KOBE, Japan -- Home-grown chamber chorale composed of employees of the City Government of Tagum grabbed a Level III Gold Diploma during the Sing N' Pray International Chorale Competition here, besting 19 other chorale groups from Japan, Poland, Russia, Thailand, Indonesia, China, South Korea and the Philippines.

The Tagum City Chamber Chorale was formed in 2013 upon the directive of Mayor Allan L. Rellon.

The chorale's participation almost did not happen because of the delay of the release of their individual visas.

The visas arrived two hours before the last flight on the day before the competition.

John August Pamintuan, one of the members of the international jury, told the group that this victory is a giant achievement for the choral community in the Philippines especially that the group's win qualifies them to the World Choir Games.

Sanctioned by Interkultur, the world's leading organizer of international choir competitions and festivals since 1988 based in Germany, the Sing N' Pray competition highlighted the music of spirit and faith to coincide with the city's Sing from Kobe annual event which capitalized on faith and spirituality after the devastating earthquake that hit the city in 1995.

The four-song repertoire of the Chamber Chorale include "Gapas," a song talking about the Parable of the Sower and "Toki Gong," which is a song heaping praise to God through a dance dictated by the sound of a gong.

But the well-applauded pieces of the group are "Ilay Gandangan," a Maguindanaoan song asking for God's intervention to stop the heavy rain causing a massive flood, and a Muslim prayer song called "Ummah Sallih," the ending of which resonated the sound of indigenous musical instrument "kubing" in the storied main theater of Kobe's Bunka Hall.

Pamintuan said the group's victory also sets the bar higher for chorale groups in the Philippines, especially among government choirs. The same group grabbed the grand slam victory in the National Government Chorale Competition in 2017 of the Civil Service Commission.

Mayor Rellon congratulated the group for securing a spot in the elite list of world ranking for best choirs which fully cemented the city's moniker as the Music Capital of the South.

For Mario Sabello, the group's conductor, this victory will further inspire them to polish their craft especially that it has penetrated the list of admired chorale groups in the country.

Aside from Tagum, St. Scholastica College's High School Glee Club also secured a gold spot. In the adult category though, the Tagum City Chamber Chorale was the over-all winner.

Other groups received either silver or bronze diplomas, including the Ateneo de Davao University Chorale which grabbed a silver diploma. (PR)