IT was their first time to join such a competition and yet St. Benedict Children’s Choir brought home awards from a recently concluded international choir competition in China, beating other contingents from 62 countries.

Formed just two years ago, the choir from the St. Benedict Childhood Education Center (SBCEC) topped the 6th World Choir Games in Shaoxing, China.

They competed in three categories: contemporary songs, children’s songs, and songs of the religions. They won gold medal for the contemporary songs category and took the silver medal for the other two categories.

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The choir of 29 members, with ages 9 to 12, and conductor Dennis Gregory Sugarol flew to China on July 13 and arrived yesterday in Cebu. They were welcomed at the airport by SBCEC owner and school administrator Lydia Ibañez, the school principal, parents and friends.

SBCEC principal Mena Boltron said only choirs that have previously won in competitions were supposed to compete in the songs of the religions category. But amateur choirs were given a chance to join through qualifying rounds, which only St. Benedict Children’s Choir passed.

Sugarol, who is also the conductor of three other award-winning choirs, described their victory as “overwhelming.”

Boltron said their choir has been staging local performances and singing in churches.

“It was their very first competition and they prepared for it for two months,” she said.

There were 8,000 participants in this year’s World Choir Games, which is held once in every two years.

Boltron said the children made a side trip to Hong Kong Disneyland to celebrate their victory.