20,000 singers from 93 nations
For all of you who love singing, I wish you could be here in Graz, Austria. I'm here for the International Choir Games, the largest choral competition in the world. There are 441 participating choirs from 93 nations - 43 choirs from China alone! There are 41 choirs from Germany, and Russia has sent 40 choirs.
Graz, a UNESCO world heritage site, is a lovely ancient Austrian city. The sound of music is all over the city. I'm here as the Canadian member of the international jury. During the competition I have the privilege of judging choirs, and in the process hearing choir music from many countries, in many languages, in many styles. It's highly enriching and very interesting.
The press release of the organization describes the jury as follows: "The international jury consists of 71 highly qualified experts of choral music recognized worldwide. They come from 34 nations and work in teams of five (in the first round) and teams of seven (in the second round) evaluating the choir's performances in a professional way."
Each morning, I share informal buffet breakfast with other jury members, deepening old friendships, and make new friends. I've been discussing with several jury colleagues ideas for our next Trinity Western University Choir tours! Interested? Stay tuned!
Then after breakfast we work hard. The hours are sometimes long. The competition is in categories; children's choirs, youth choirs, male choirs, women's choirs, mixed choirs, chamber choirs, contemporary music, sacred music, music of the religious, vocal jazz, gospel and spiritual, popular music etc.
What am I learning? I'm learning that choral singing is alive and well around the world. Students from all around the world are participating, and are enjoying rich experiences.
I was moved to tears a few days ago. During a parade event, when all of the choirs were part of an outdoor opening ceremony, I noticed the South African choirs begin to sing, spontaneously, all together. One singer started - then they all joined in a song of freedom. There were blacks and whites. The choirs were from (I found out later) different cities. But what joined them together was their singing. Not many years ago, apartheid in South Africa separated races. It was deeply moving to see these different South African choirs singing together, spontaneously, as with one voice, and most of the South African choirs now have mixed races.
So it's a great pleasure to be among the 20,000 people who are, for these two weeks, united in singing.
Did you know that our choirs at TWU are also a miniature united nations? We have had singers from Korea, Indonesia, China, USA, Canada, South Africa, Taiwan, Iran, and Germany in recent years. If you come from another country, we say a special welcome to you! And if you come to audition in September, you can sing "Silent Night, Holy Night" in any language that you choose!
If you're interested in singing at TWU in the fall and you have any questions, please feel free to email me. I check email even here in Graz, every day.