By Gid Ahanonu
For the first time in 10 years, the Owerri Diocesan Music Festival was penultimate Saturday held at the Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord, CATOL, Owerri.
In his charge, the Anglican Bishop of Owerri, Rt. Rev. Cyril Okorocha, PhD, urged members of the participating choirs to be peaceful and joyful while singing in the presence of Christ, noting that the sole duty of those in heaven is to sing praises to God uninterrupted.
He admonished the participants not to be worried should they fail to win prizes adding that the important thing is to take part in praising God.
The bishop then warned against the hiring of mercenaries by some choirs to sing for them which he said led to fighting and other anti-social activities that defeated the essence of the programme, in the past.
The prelate profusely lauded the chairman of the Music Directorate, Ven. Ben Nwaneri and the director, Rev. Emma Okorafor for working hard in organizing the festival.
Seventeen church choirs participated in the festival and were classed into categories of Grades 1,2,3.
The Cathedral Church of the Transfiguration of Our Lord (CATOL), Owerri conducted by Chris Obiji, bagged the first position in grade one scoring 521 points, beating Holy Trinity Church, Uratta to the second position with a score 519 while St. Mark’s Amakohia came third with 467 points out of the five choirs that competed in this category.
In the second category, Holy Spirit-in-control came tops with 457 marks, St. John the Evangelist Choir, Akwakuma second with 433 and in third position was the church of Healing Cross, Oparanozie street with 415 points among a total of four choirs in this grade.
Grade 3 comprised eight choirs and St. John’s Church, Okuku was first with 417 marks, St. Cyprian’s Federal Housing Estate, Owerri was second with 390 points while Emmanuel Church, Ogbaku came third having scored 385 points.
The two judges from outside the state were Dr. Ade and Mr Ugochukwu Onwuka from College of Education, Nsugbe, Anambra State.
The highlight of the programme was the presentation of trophies to each of the choirs that took the first position in each category by the bishop who also donated N10,000 to each of the participating choirs.
In his vote of thanks the chairman of the Diocesan Music Directorate, Ven. Ben Nwaneri commended the bishop for his support to the ministry as well as the participants for conducting themselves honorably.
However, he lamented the failure of members of the congregations to be present at the occasion and reminded the churches which choirs did not participate to pay the appropriate fines to the secretariat.