July 2012 Issue
A Song Shall Rise
The World Choir Games make their American debut in Cincinnati.
A global summit of song convenes in Cincinnati this month when the World Choir Games take center stage in the Queen City July 4–14. The international competition features 360 ensembles from 60 countries, each presenting magnificent aural — and visual — pageantry in concert halls and cathedrals throughout the downtown district.
Dubbed “the Olympics of choral music,” the festival fosters peaceful co-existence through singing. Participants are judged on vocal prowess in 23 categories of music, including pop, jazz, barbershop and folkloric. And, like the storied athletic event it’s modeled after, winners take home gold, silver and bronze medals for their talents.
But the competition is far from fierce.
“The motto of the World Choir Games is ‘Singing together brings nations together,’ ” says Lori Lobsiger, director of North American Markets for Interkultur, the Pohlheim, Germany-based organization that launched the event a dozen years ago. “When people sing together, it’s joyous and all about the music.”
Over the past decade, the contest has been held biennially in Austria, Korea, Germany and China. This year marks the first time it’s taking place in the United States. And, Lobsiger explains, Cincinnati is clearly the natural choice for the American debut.
“The city has so many tremendous venues with great beauty and wonderful acoustics for the Games,” the Mariemont resident says. “Now, we’ll be able to share Music Hall, Aronoff Center for the Arts, the School for Creative & Performing Arts and the Masonic Center with the world.
“Not to mention,” she adds, “all the great churches where the [performances] will be held that are within easy walking distance of each other.”
Cincinnati’s picture-perfect vistas also proved to be irresistible to the representatives who visited before making the decision to hold the songfest there.
“The city’s German heritage and architecture really captured the hearts of Interkultur’s countrymen,” Lobsiger explains.
Over the two-week period in which the Games take place, 90,000 tourists and 18,000 choral participants will be coming to Cincinnati. Clearly, the red carpet has been rolled out with aplomb: More than 4,000 volunteers have signed up to serve in a variety of roles, from being good-will ambassadors to
“The fact that we’ve been chosen as the first American site for the Games has really galvanized the community,” says Julie Calvert, vice president of communications and strategic development for Cincinnati USA Convention & Visitors Bureau. “When we look at the legacy of this event, it’s really going to lie in the spirit of the people and the way everyone has come together to show the best of our city to guests from around the world.
“And that’s something,” she adds, “you just can’t script.”
For information about performances and tickets, visit 2012worldchoirgames.com