Aoibhinn travels nationwide to explore the history of the 'Fill a rún ó', which is a song from Donegal and 'Mo Sheamaisín', which originates in Cork. She also meets both choirs Cór Mhaigh Eo from Castlebar and Dublin based Gospel Choir A Glór to see how they are getting on with their challenge. The choirs go head to head to sing in front of our panel of judges Rónán Ó Snodaigh, Bláthnaid Ní Dhonnchadha and John Fitzpatrick at the historic venue of Tullynally Castle in Co. Westmeath. The winner goes through to the grand final live at The Helix.
The Choir: Cór Mhaigh Eo
Cór Mhaigh Eo are based in Castlebar and have a membership drawn from across County Mayo. This mixed voice choir has a wide repertoire and an impressive track record in choral competition having won at Cork National Open Competition in 2009. For An Cór 2011 their director, Brian Lennon, will be creating his own arrangement of a piece for the very first time. The traditional song which Cór Mhaigh Eo will perform has a particularly intriguing history and a complex emotional message which will challenge even this very accomplished musical group.
The Choir: A Glór
A Glór is a female gospel group based in Dublin. This is an international sisterhood with members from France, USA, Germany, Poland, Ireland, Finland and Sweden. This choir sings inspirational music and places great value on the bonds of friendship formed through singing together. For many of the choir members taking part in An Cór will be their first time engaging with the Irish language. A Glór's Musical Director, New York native Jennifer Grundulis, is hoping that being a Speech Therapist will help her to get to grips with the Gaeilge!
Aoibhinn travels around the country to learn about the history of the songs featured in tonight's programme. During a boat trip in Fermanagh, she finds out a little more about 'Buachaill ón Éirne' and speaks to someone with some very personal memories of the song 'Maidrín Rua'. She'll also be popping into Garda Headquarters to see how the Garda Ladies Choir are getting to grips with their new tune and finding out if Irish traditional music is too much for the Africa-Irish Gospel choir! The choirs go head to head to sing in front of our panel of judges Rónán Ó Snodaigh, Bláthnaid Ní Dhonnchadha and John Fitzpatrick at the historic venue of Tullynally Castle in Co. Westmeath.
The Choir: Garda Ladies Choir
The Garda Ladies Choir, formed in 1986, brings together female members of the Garda Síochána as well as family members and friends of the force. The ladies sing in hospitals, schools and at charity events. An Cór will be there first ever foray into competitive singing. Musical director, Rodney Baldwin, relished the opportunity for the Garda Ladies to take this new challenge, confident of their passion and ability and just hoping that their nerves didn't get the better of them on the day.
The Choir: The Africa-Irish Gospel Choir
The African-Irish Gospel Choir come together each week from all over Cork to practice in their city-centre base. The choir is made up of members from Jamaica, Nigeria, The Republic of Congo, England and Ireland and are regularly sought to sing at weddings, christenings and other events around Cork. Although they choir are used to singing in French, Swahili and Congolese, how will they deal with Irish? Their musical director, King David is confident this band of international singers can perform to the highest level and add another language to the group's repertoire.
In episode 3, Aoibhinn travels around the country to learn about the history of the songs featured in tonight's programme, ''S í Do Mhaimeo í' and 'Cill Chais'. She'll also be meeting up with the choirs, the students of the UCD Choral Scholars and the members of the Cork-based Pfizerpfonics.
The Choir: UCD Choral Scholars
UCD Choral Scholars are a group of high achievers in many ways. All members are UCD students who have gone through an audition process to join the choir. The choir has performed on television and radio, at charity events and college functions. Desmond Earley has been Artistic Director with the scholars since their foundation in 1998 and has guided them in their role as cultural ambassadors for their university. This is a highly competitive group determined to win An Cór 2011 for UCD!
The Choir: Pfizerpfonics
Pfizerpfonics is a choir whose members are employees, friends and family of those who work in the Pfizer plants in Cork. The choir has nearly 50 members and come together each week in Douglas, Co. Cork to rehearse and bring a real level of professionalism to their wide range of songs. The choir travels widely together, not only by bus but also by motorbike, as Pfizerpfonics have their own motorcycle club! Not many members of the choir speak Irish, so we'll have to see their leader, Ber Ryan keeps the group in check and ensures standards remain high!
In episode 4, see Aoibhinn discovers the history behind the songs featured in tonight's Final - in Tipperary, we visit the site of Clonmel Prison, in Galway we sail around the Connemara in a little boat and we explore the history behind 'Mo Ghile Mear', a song known around the world thanks to Sting!
The Choirs: UCD Choral Scholars, A Glór and Garda Ladies Choir