After a year’s postponement, from 30 October to 7 November, choirs from around the world will be converging on Flanders, Belgium for the 11th World Choir Games in Antwerp and Ghent.
Based on Olympic ideals (it even has its own flame), the bi-annual games aim to unify people and nations connected by song in a fair competition. Produced by Interkultur, the games are far more than a competition, and many participating choirs choose not to compete.
The week includes workshops and training sessions, concerts in a range of venues, schools and out on the streets of the two cities. True to the spirit of the games, choirs will join together in a series of free ‘Friendship Concerts’ to showcase their musical traditions and costumes in and around Antwerp and Ghent. This spirit of cooperation continues beyond the games through the games’ choir twinning programme.
All choirs, whether competing or not, get to sing a 15-minute programme of three pieces in front of an international panel of experts, offering a rare opportunity for friendly evaluation and all participants will have the opportunity to work on a choral composition of their choice with a noted international choir director.
With the pandemic still hampering travel for many nations, those choirs not able to attend will be judged in a virtual competition with categories for children, adults, pop, jazz, gospel, spiritual, folklore, a cappella and with accompaniment. There will also be a Virtual Village.
‘The unique concept offers the choirs, who in the current context cannot travel to Flanders, the chance to compete for eternal glory in the Virtual Games,’ said Sophie Detremmerie, COO of the World Choir Games 2021 Flanders. ‘But also, the visitors will be able to enjoy the unique atmosphere of this event via the daily live streams in the digital Music Hall at home.’
The Virtual Village aims to provide an online festival atmosphere. ‘There is something for everyone,’ Detremmerie continues. ‘The host cities have worked out tourist content in 2D and 3D for the international singers in the digital Tourist Office, unique blogs and vlogs will appear, choirs can meet colleagues from all over the world in a virtual café.’
The digital aspect has benefits for audiences, too, with recitals being screened in care homes across Flanders.
Flanders was chosen for the 2021 World Choir Games for its long-established choral heritage. Within its small area, Flanders has over 1000 choirs and 35,000 singers. Flemish Minister-President and Minister of Culture, Jan Jambon said, ‘Flanders has a rich tradition in the field of vocal culture. We are therefore very proud to be able to organise the World Choir Games this year. The Games allow the many participating Flemish choirs to meet their international colleagues in a creative and inspiring way. Moreover, in this way, Flanders gets the chance to show itself from its best side with our heritage and our gastronomy.’
For further details, visit the INTERKULTUR website.
Photo: International Singers at a previous edition of the World Choir Games © Studi43