World Choir Games in Flanders for the first time: singing is… (Antwerp)
The World Choir Games are being organized in Flanders for the first time. “That’s probably also the only time they want to find in all corners of the globe. For example, the Games will go to South Korea in 2023,” says Jeroen Keymeulen (38). He is the director of Koor&Stem, which is co-organizing this edition.
No neck-and-neck race
Among the 307 choirs (of which 107 are on stage, the rest participate online) there are 55 from Flanders. “In view of the circumstances, that is certainly okay, but 135 had registered before the arrival of corona.” About a thousand amateur choirs are affiliated with Koor&Stem.
At the World Choir Games, with a mix of classical religious music, gospel and pop, the Olympic idea ‘participation is more important than winning’ is central. “Of course there are championships where it is a bit about honor and competition. But the important part consists of open competitions, where people mainly listen to each other. Medals are also awarded, but they are rather symbolic. It’s not a neck-and-neck race.”
That being said: do the Flemish choirs have a chance to win a gold medal? “I won’t name names because that would be dangerous. But there are a few, also from Antwerp, who sing at a high level and certainly come in.”
In the Elisabeth Hall took Sunday in the category gospel & spiritual two choirs compete against each other. Celina Orths and Marie Wilmers (both 19) have been singing together since childhood and three years ago a member of Gospelchor Rejoice from Germany. “It’s nice to sing in a choir because you’re not alone. You are part of a larger group. It is our second home, a place where we can express our feelings in a unique way.”
About the World Choir Games: “This is very special because here we sing together, not against each other. That friendly atmosphere is beautiful, a really special experience. We are still a bit nervous, but on stage we let that go to give the best of ourselves.”
Choir with a mission
Gergó Lajos (64) is the conductor of the Lumen Christi Gospel Choir from the Hungarian capital Budapest, which he founded himself in 1998. “On choir has 40 members, but unfortunately, thanks to corona, 33 can be present.”
“After the Cold War, church choirs in Hungary became popular again, but gospel is still an outlier. Not so surprising because it is a Catholic country and gospel originally comes from the Protestant ‘other side’. But that hasn’t stopped the church we belong to,” he laughs.
Gergó concludes: “We have already participated in several competitions and achieved good results. But that’s not what counts. We are here with a mission: to spread the joy of our faith, interpreted in beautiful music.” (mibl)