When Choral Gets Competitive

Choir Games Comes to Dayton

By Tim Anderl

In July, several hundred choirs from around the globe will converge on Cincinnati for the 7th World Choir Games.  Offering 200 public events, including competitions, concerts, workshops and free public performances, the games take place from July 4 to 14. The Cincinnati organizing committee and INTERKULTUR, the International Organizing Committee, are expecting 15,000 participants from 64 countries and 22 U.S. states, including 362 choirs.

Inspired by the Olympic ideal, which aims to peacefully unify singing people and nations by song in a fair competition, the World Choir Games is one of the largest choral music competitions in the world.  It’s basically the Olympics of choral music – the largest international choral competition in the world — and is held every two years. Previous games have been in Austria, China, Germany and South Korea. Amateur choirs of all experience levels are welcome. Choirs can participate in The Champions Competition, The Open Competition or as a festival participant.

In conjunction with the 2012 World Choir Games, Grace United Methodist Church will host a Friendship Concert on Sunday, July 8 at 3 p.m. The concert will include two choirs who are official participants in the Choir Games.  The two choirs visiting for the event are Croatia’s Čarobna frula and Venezuela’s Rapsodia Coro de Cámara.

“These two groups have very diverse musical styles.  Čarobna frula has been to every one of the World Choir Games, and Rapsodia has been a past champion,” said Dr. Robert Jones, the minister of music at Grace Church. Dr. Jones will co-host the event with Pastor Sherry Gale.  Dr. Jones has served as an adjudicator, guest conductor, clinician, and baritone soloist in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest regions of the country.   For eleven years, he served as artistic director of MUSICA!, a professional chamber ensemble that  recorded two CDs, Great Day and Reflections on American Spirituals.

“The choir at Grace Church performs traditional choral music, as well as gospel and world music selections, and we have a jazz pianist on staff,” Dr. Jones added.  “So we have a receptive and appreciative audience here, and judging from the calls the church has received about the event, the city is responding similarly.  Everyone is really excited about the camaraderie, and peace and goodwill that these games and this event stand for.”

Croatian Music Society’s Čarobna frula (which translates to “magic flute”) was founded in 1992, in Zagreb, Croatia. Čarobna frula is a children’s choir called Vrapčići (which means Little Sparrows). The best singers from Vrapčići, formed the vocal ensemble Čarobna frula in 1999.  From 2000 to 2011 Vrapčići and Čarobna frula won 29 prizes at international choir competitions.

The artistic director of Čarobna frula is musicologist and music teacher Marijan Milić. The accompanists are composer and arranger Vladimir Bednjanec (guitar) and Hrvoje Žagmeštar (piano/organ).

Rapsodia is a venezuelan polyphonic choral group that belongs to the National System of Orchestras and Choirs from Venezuela and is conducted by Guillermo Brazón.  Founded in 1995, the choir participated in national and international events, such as the Second National Competition of Choirs of Mérida, Julio Villarroel festival in Margarita Island, Cantapueblo Festival in Argentina and in Chile, and the Tenth Academic Choirs Festival of Czech Republic. Rapsodia has also performed in Belgium, Holland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, France and Argentina.

According to their charter, the main purpose of Rapsodia’s work is showcasing the children and young people of the Monagas state.  The choir is used as a tool to encourage the development of creativity and strong critical thinking.

Since 2002, Rapsodia has participated in World Choir Games in South Korea, Germany, China, Austria and China (Shaoxing). This group also collaborated with Ilan Chester on his album Tesoros de la Música Venezolana, which earned the Latin Grammy for Best Folk Album.

The beautiful sanctuary of Grace Church is an appropriate setting for the free, all-ages concert.  The church’s new performance platform, 36-rank Cassavante organ, and grand piano couple with the building’s pristine acoustics

“Grace Church has a diverse congregation and with these events we hope that we can expand that,” Dr. Jones said.  “With these kinds of events we also hope to let people know that for a mid-sized city, Dayton is one of the most diverse, art appreciating communities in the country.  This is just our way of spotlighting the positive, personal experiences that the arts offer here.”

(The Friendship Concert is a free, all-ages event that takes place at Grace United Methodist Church on Sunday, July 8 at 3 p.m.  For more information, visit: http://www.graceumc.com/specialevents.html.  Tickets to all events are available at www.2012worldchoirgames.com/tickets or by calling (513)977-6363.)

Reach DCP freelance writer Tim Anderl at TimAnderl@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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