World Choir Games to Open up Hearts and Souls

World Choir Games to Open up Hearts and Souls
Kaspars Garda, Riga 2014 . Romāns Vanags, Diāna Čivle and Ralf Eisenbeiß with the World Choir Games Award statuette
This summer from the 9th to the 19th of July, Riga will host one of the greatest choir music events of the year – the World Choir Games, the programme of which includes over a hundred choir music events of various kinds. At a press conference in Riga, the World Choir Games organisers gave the public an insight into what they should be looking forward to in three months’ time. The World Choir Games Award, created by sculptor Olga Šilova, which will be presented to the games’ winners in all 29 categories, was also presented at the press conference.

Diāna Čivle, the Head of the “Riga 2014” foundation, said: “Of course, the first comparison that comes to mind is the Song Festival, but we have to realise that the World Choir Games are a very diverse and multifaceted event. Choirs come to the Games to compete in 29 categories, and that characterises and shows the versatility of the choir singing tradition all over the world.” The World Choir Games is not just one major concert, but a whole two weeks filled with bustling activity, which will feature at least a hundred events associated with choir singing that will take place outdoors and in concert halls, in Riga and beyond, and events free of charge and events where admission will be charged, she said. “This is a complex programme where friendly competition among choirs plays a very important role. I believe that this is also the main motif for both components of the World Choir Games – ten different venues where the competitions will be held, and the spirit of sportsmanship that is characteristic of such events which will make the Games very inspiring and interesting to all.”

 

Diāna Čivle also said that tickets to the approximately forty World Choir Games events where admission will be charged – the opening concert at the “Arena Riga”, the choral gala concert in Mežaparks and others – are available from “Biļešu paradise” outlets from April 15. The entire programme of the World Choir Games is available on the Games’ website.

“The World Choir Games have been in my heart, my mind and my thoughts for two years already,” said the World Choir Games’ Artistic Director, Conductor Romāns Vanags, reminding us that Maestro Imants Kokars had once said that such an event should definitely take place in Latvia.

“The World Choir Games in Riga will be organised on an unprecedented scale – they will be attended by almost 500 choirs, a record-breaking number for the Games.”

Romāns Vanags went on to say that choirs would come to Riga to compete in two major classes: the Champions Class, featuring choirs of the highest quality, and the so-called Open Class, in which most Latvian choirs will participate. “Many of the choirs that will compete in this class will be participating in such a major international event for the first time,” added Vanags. He also said that, regardless of how the international competition goes, the event’s contribution to Latvia and the culture of Latvia was a matter of great importance.

 

“Master classes will be a major attraction for choir singers, professionals and conductors alike, who could be very interested in meeting music personalities the names of which we read in newspapers or the works of which we hear performed by internationally acclaimed artists. This will be an opportunity to meet them.” Romāns Vanags reminded us that these music stars would not only host master classes but also give concerts. For example, the World Stars’ Concert will feature the world-famous “The King’s Singers” from Great Britain and “The Real Group” from Sweden. Also, an interpretation of Morten Lauridsen’s (the Honorary Artistic Director of the World Choir Games) “Lux Aeterna” by the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra and the Baltic boys’ choirs will have its premiere at the Great Guild Hall on the 14th of July.

“One of the concerts will feature Intars Busulis and his band. He, too, is closely associated with the World Choir Games – it was Intars who sang the Games’ anthem “My Song”, composed by Ēriks Ešenvalds. Whereas the “Instrumenti” group is arranging music for a concert they will perform individually and together with the choir “Sōla”.

One of the concerts will also see the Riga Dom Girls’ Choir, the Latvian National Symphony Orchestra and the dance ensemble “Dzirnas” perform the world-famous composition “Adiemus”,” said Romāns Vanags, adding that these two weeks would be saturated with choir music. “I know, everyone will be tired out, but I also know that we will be very happy to have the World Choir Games take place in Riga, the European Capital of Culture 2014. And I believe this will demonstrate that the meaning of the word “to sing” is much broader than the Song Festival we have come to associate it with. “To sing” means very much everywhere in the world, it opens up the hearts and souls of each and every one of us. And the most important things we can give each other during these days are – emotions, kindness, and selflessness.”

 

Romāns Vanags also outlined the programme of the gala concert in Mežaparks, emphasising that the concert had been proposed by Latvia as previously, the World Choir Games had never included such concerts.

“We wanted to produce such a concert so that our guests, participating in the concert could feel the unique atmosphere which, to them, is something they would never have experienced previously.”

The two-hour concert will be divided into three parts: the first part will present sample Latvian music – classical Latvian choir songs, like Uģis Prauliņš “Visi ceļi guņiem pilni” (All the Roads are Full of Light).The programme also includes Latvian folksongs, such as “Mēness starus stīgo” (Moon Ray Strings), “Rozēm kaisu istabiņu” (Scattering Roses in the Room), “Mūžu mūžos būs dziesma” (Songs will Endure Forever), “Līgovakars” (Midsummer Night), “Gaismas pils” (Palace of Light), but closing the programme will be a song that has caused  fierce debate – Raimonds Pauls’ “Manai Dzimtenei” (To My Homeland), which will be conducted by Ints Teterovskis. “The second part will begin with a performance by Japanese drummers’, after which world choirs will take the stage, each with their own piece of music that is currently being arranged by Kristaps Krievkalns. The entire programme, however, is impossible to predict,” said Romāns Vanags, reminding us that the concert will also include several joint songs. Mārtiņš Brauns’ “Saule, Pērkons, Daugava” (Sun, Thunder, Daugava) being one of them, which he will conduct himself, will be performed by all the choirs  – 17,000 to 18,000 singers in total. The third part of the concert will be dedicated to world classical music. “The director of the concert is Juris Jonelis, for whom it will be the first opportunity to work within such enormous dimensions,” summed up Romāns Vanags.

On behalf of the German Cultural Foundation “Interkultur” and the World Choir Games’ organisers, Ralf Eisenbeiß said that an event where about 20,000 singers from all over the world converge was bound to raise questions and cause problems, but it would also bring great joy. “The “Interkultur” foundation is the organiser of the largest choir competition in the world, we have been working for 25 years and organising the World Choir Games since 2000.

I wish to emphasise that the World Choir Games in Riga will be the largest Games in history, and that our motto is “Singing Together Brings Nations Together”.”

Ralf Eisenbeiß said that the World Choir Games’ organisers had a high opinion of Latvia’s achievements in music – Latvia and the Baltics have proved that many people can sing together and that music can unite people. “This year you will witness the entire world arrive here – just try to imagine how much people expect from the event, furthermore, to many of them this will be the greatest event in their lives. The national aspect will be joined by the international, and this is where it will become obvious that everything is possible – the World Choir Games will include about 800 performances altogether, which is about the same as to sing non-stop for eight days and nights.” He also stressed that he would like to invite everyone to attend the award ceremony – a place of indescribable emotions where nations are brought together.

“I’m proud to announce that we have commissioned new World Choir Games and ceremony music, composed by your outstanding composer Zigmars Liepiņš. We did not choose him by chance because, as we all well know, Latvia is a land of composers, thus we are very happy that it is Zigmars Liepiņš who will compose the new World Choir Games music.”

During the press conference, the World Choir Games Award statuette was presented to the media. The award will be given to winners in all 29 categories of the competition.

 

“I’d like to say that the award, sculpted by Olga, is also a small part of Latvia that the choirs will take to their home countries,” said Diāna Čivle. The artist herself commented: “The mountain motif and the rhythmic lines of the bridge prompt us to imagine the positive power of music, which overcomes borders between nations and cultures, whereas the piece of amber incorporated into the award takes our thoughts to Latvia – a drop of amber on the shores of the Baltic Sea, the host of the eighth World Choir Games.”

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