As a way of improving the quality of musicin liturgical and social celebrations in Bigard, and with the purpose of equipping Bigard seminarians with the knowledge and values of music, the Seminary organized an occasional inter-house music competition. The thoroughly prepared singing competition of 2017/2018 academic year slated for Saturday, 24th March, 2018 commenced at exactly 9:00amat the seminary auditorium, with an opening prayer said by Rev. Fr. Dr. Basil Okeke.
In his address, the Rector of Bigard, Very Rev. Fr. Dr. Albert Ikpenwa heartily welcomed the formators and students of Bigard as well as the three “judges” (Music Experts) who were invited to render professional assessment of the competition. The Moral Theologian quoted a document of the Church, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy (Chap. IV, No. 112):“the musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art.”With this, he pointed out the necessity of upholding a proper usage of liturgical music, which the singing competition sets to achieve. The rector expressed his sentiments of gratitude to the music director, Rev. Fr. Dr. Cletus Umezinwa, and the liturgy directors:, Rev. Msgr. Donatus Ogudo and Rev. Fr. Dr. Basil Okeke, for their unalloyed sacrifices towards the preparations and anticipated success of the competition.
The music director, Rev. Fr. Dr. Cletus Umezinwa, in his address of welcome underlined the aim of the competition as a medium to improve the quality of singing during liturgical and social celebrations, bearing in mind the directives of the Vatican Church Fathers on teaching and practicing music in the seminaries. He introduced the judges as follows: Prof. Richard Okafor (Professor of Music Education and Ethnomusicology, Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu), Sr. Prof. Cordis Mariae Achikeh (Professor of Music, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka), and Rev. Fr. Dr. Emmanuel Umezinwa (Senior Lecturer of Music and Ethnomusicology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka).
Before the commencement of the competition proper, the chief judge, Prof Richard Okafor urged the students to exhibit the spirit of sportsmanship during the competition; he also encouraged them to compete not only for the immediate award/price but for the knowledge and value of music.
The fifteen houses into which all resident Bigard seminarians are allotted, participated according to the number they picked. Each of them rendered the selected songs for competition namely:
• The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ According to John in Igbo, by Stanley Orazulike,
• Praise Ye the Father (Papal Anthem), by Charles Gounod,
• Oh Hail Bigard (Bigard Anthem), by Justin Nzekwe and Daniel Eduzor,
• Saviour Blessed Saviour, by Godfrey Thring and Herbert Oakeley,
• Blessed be the Lord our God, by George J. Elvey
• Praise to the Holiest in the height, by Cardinal John H. Newman.
At the end of the presentations by all the 15 houses, while the judges summarized their results, the audience was entertained by Ay and his Colleague, after which came a choral presentation by the Bigard Main Choir.
Before disclosing the results, the judges commended the different choirs and made few general remarks on the choirs, namely: facial expression, inaccurate note rendition, swallowing of the last consonants, wrong pronunciation of some words, and neglect of the chromatic notes. However, they commended the houses that observed the rules set in place for the competition, and also lauded all 15 houses for the efforts put in preparations, and the courageous manner with which every house performed.
According to the result, St Gregory’s house emerged as the overall winner with 478 points followed by St Stephen’s house with 474 points and St. Albert’s house with 462 points.
For the best conductor, Mr. Clement Muogbo of St Gregory’s House was rated the best with 75%, followed by Mr. Aloysius Okoye of St Albert’s house with 72%, and Mr. Lawrence Ugwu of St Stephen’s house with 70%.
In appreciation, the Rector presented awards of excellence to the best three choirs and encouraged others to work harder to be the best in the next edition of the competition.
The event was brought to a happy end with a closing prayer said by Rev. Fr. Dr. Blaise Emebo, a formator in Bigard, after which the victorious houses happily celebrated their trophies.