The Eighth World Choir Games Get Under Way

The Eighth World Choir Games Get Under Way
Kaspars Garda, Riga 2014
The largest “Riga 2014” event begins in Riga this week – the World Choir Games that will become the greatest cultural event hosted by Latvia and a remarkable example of international co-operation.

The World Choir Games in Riga will continue from the 9th to the 19th of July, bringing together 27,000 singers from 73 countries.

“This is the largest event to take place in Riga since the restoration of independence,” Riga Mayor Nils Ušakovs told a press conference a day before the opening of the World Choir games. It is also the largest choir singing competition in the history of the World Choir Games, with the number of participants far exceeding that at the previous World Choir Games in the United States, China, Germany and other countries.

“The European Capital of Culture status is opening Riga to the world this year, and the world will be singing in Riga for the next ten days.

In the context of the European Capital of Culture Programme, the World Choir Games symbolise what we here, in Riga, hold in very high regard – our choir singing traditions, events that bring together friends from different countries of the world. Riga will witness great cultural diversity, various singing traditions, and every person who loves choir music will find something to see and hear here,” said Diāna Čivle, the Head of the “Riga 2014” foundation.

The World Choir Games also represent the very successful international co-operation and partnership between the “Riga 2014” foundation and the German cultural organisation “Interkultur”, said Diāna Čivle, adding that she was grateful to the German partners for their decision to organise the eighth World Choir Games in Riga:

“The dream of conductor Imants Kokars to bring the event to Riga, which he was hoping to witness when he was a member of the World Choir Council, has come true. The status of the European Capital of Culture dotted the i's and crossed the t’s for the idea to come to fruition.”

Diāna Čivle also thanked all volunteers who had signed up to help the organisation of the World Choir Games, as well as “Riga 2014” co-operation partners and supporters: “Lattelecom”, ERGO, “Sixt”, “Laima”, “Aqua Riga” and others.

The German cultural organisation “Interkultur” President Günter Titsch also participated in the press conference. He confirmed that the status of the European Capital of Culture was one of the reasons for the organisation to confirm Riga as the host city for the eighth World Choir Games, and the lasting choir singing traditions of Latvia was also an important contributing factor. Passing choir singing traditions on from one generation to the next is highly important, emphasised Günter Titsch. The World Choir Games attest to this as most participants are 25 to 27 years old.

The World Choir Games in Riga also introduce a new tradition – the World Choir Peace Prize will be bestowed during the 2014 World Choir Games for the first time to acknowledge the recipient’s contribution to peace through choral music.

Pursuant to the World Choir Council’s decision, the first World Choir Peace Prize will be presented to all three Baltic countries during the Celebration Concert in Mežaparks on the 13th of July.

The World Choir Games’ Artistic Directors Christian Ljunggren and Romāns Vanags emphasised the great versatility of music to be performed at the Games, as well as the World Choir Games’ artistic quality and educational importance, as the World Choir Games will include several prominent artists’ master classes in Riga.

“There are few events in the world that bring together so many and so different nations. We demonstrate the cultural diversity of the world through singing. These World Choir Games will have a special flavour as they will be held in a country with prominent choir singing traditions, where choir music means very much. It will be one of the strengths of the event – the spirit of Latvian choir singing and traditions of the nations of the world, and I am looking forward to the Celebration Concert in Mežaparks,” said Christian Ljunggren. He urged the public to enjoy the World Choir Games’ award ceremonies and appreciate the fact that the jury would include best choir music experts from around the world.

“The Jury will include conductors of various world choirs and choir music professors from a number of universities. They will also give seminars and master classes during the World Choir Games. The educational factor of the event should not be overlooked,” said Christian Ljunggren.

The World Choir Games in Riga will also include an international conference on the various choir music traditions and diversity in the world.

“We are so different, we speak different languages, have different skin colours and traditions, but we all have a voice, and in this unity of humans lies the actual message of the World Choir Games,” added the World Choir Games’ Artistic Director.

From the Latvian side, conductor Romāns Vanags is in charge of the World Choir Games’ artistic programme. He believes that the people should realise during the next ten days that not only are the notions of Latvia and choir singing inseparable – so are choir singing and the world.

“The events during the next ten days will make us experience such powerful emotions that we will not be able to forget it for a long time,” said Romāns Vanags, recommending the public to carefully follow the programme of the World Choir Games – there will be so many different concerts, master classes and other events that it will not be possible to attend all of them, but people should try to see a little of everything.

The World Choir Games is the largest choir music festival in the world. From the 9th to the 19th of July, 460 choirs from 73 countries on five continents, or a total of 27,000 choir singers, will be participating in friendly competition to acknowledge the importance of singing together. For ten days, competitions in 29 categories will be held in Riga, as well as master classes and seminars, special concerts and friendship concerts, the Parade of Nations and much, much more. The biennial World Choir Games have been organised since 2000.

The World Choir Games will include competitions at eight Riga concert halls, concerts by the special guests – the vocal ensembles “The Real Group” and “The King’s Singers”, star concerts featuring popular Latvian and foreign artists. The World Choir Games’ main event will be at the “Arena Riga” in the evening of the 9th of July where the World Choir Games’ Flag will be raised and the Peace Bell will be rung to officially open the World Choir Games, whereas the closing ceremony will be on the 19th of July. The “Arena Riga” will also be the venue where the results of competitions will be announced in four ceremonies, and the winners of the World Choir Games will be presented.

The unique Great Celebration Concert in Mežaparks on the 13th of July will, for the first time in the history of the Games, unite all festival participants in a joint choir. On the Latvian Song Festival Stage, choir singers from Latvia and other countries will jointly perform songs from the classical Song Festival repertoire as well as choir music from around the world.

Besides the competitions on four open-air stages in Riga, there will be over thirty Friendship Concerts. There will also be concerts in the regions of Latvia – in Pūre, Dobele, Salaspils, Sigulda and Jūrmala.

A full programme of the World Choir Games is available on the website www.singriga.lv.

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