Chapel of Boys and Young Men of the Sverdlovsk State Children Philharmonic, Russia © Studi43

Boys' choirs and (virtual) choir competitions

HELLO COUNCIL gives insights into the everyday life of boys' choirs and the Flemish choral scene

World Choir Council

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How can boys' choirs be motivated in rehearsals and better prepare for competitions? What distinguishes the Flemish choir scene? And what opportunities are there for choirs from all over the world to participate in the 11th World Choir Games 2021 in November in Flanders, Belgium?

The latest edition of the live talk series HELLO COUNCIL, on April 23, 2021, featured Lieselotte Goessens, musicologist from Belgium and cultural director of WCG2021, and Ronnie Kay Yen Cheng, WCG Champion Choir Conductor from China Hong Kong.

Choir rehearsals and competition preparation in boys' choirs

In the interesting roundtable discussion, Mr. Ronnie Cheng gave exciting insights into the daily rehearsal routine and the special challenges with boys' choirs and shared valuable tips for choir conductors for their daily rehearsal routine, but especially for competition preparation.

He made it clear that singers are not just instruments, but also individual people, with different needs, challenges and learning requirements. "Before you can dedicate yourself to the music, you have to take care of the singers - each individual, but also the group structure. They need to know what their role is, how they can contribute to the choir, and how they can improve." Identifying the individual needs of the singers is the responsibility of the choir director - some singers understand the music better when they count along with the beat, others when they feel the beat, and still others, learn best visually.

Especially with boys' choirs, he says, the problem is often that they can't express their feelings properly. Different pieces of music can help them with that, Cheng said.

Choir life in Flanders, Belgium, and the World Choir Games 2021

Lieselotte Goessens, Cultural Involvement Director WCG2021, informed the attendees about the special features of the Flemish choir scene and went into detail about the different participation possibilities - both live and virtual - for the World Choir Games in Flanders.

She invited the choirs of the world to already get to know Flanders and its choral music even better via the platform and to participate in the 11th World Choir Games from October 30 to November 7, 2021. In addition to numerous live events on site, there would be the possibility for international choirs to participate virtually in the Games in a Virtual Village. More detailed information on this will follow shortly at

Goessens also gave an interesting insight into the Flemish choir scene. In Flanders, she said, the choir is above all a place for social encounters. Music and singing enable them to reach people, including people in difficult health or social situations. "In Flanders, choirs can be very artistic and professional on the one hand, but on the other hand they can be groups with a very important social function within society. Most choirs in Flanders, regardless of the artistic level, are a place where you meet people with the same passion and where you share the love of singing together."

The discussion round was moderated by Johan Rooze, Artistic Director of INTERKULTUR, and Iris Huting Byrd, Project Director INTERKULTUR China.

Current challenges of the choral world

At the beginning of the live talk, the guests spoke together with host Johan Rooze about different statements on the current challenges of the choral world and gave their different perspectives on the statements.

On the statement that a virtual festival can never be the same as a live competition, Lieselotte Goessens indicated that the virtual can bring completely new challenges for choirs. "It offers them completely new opportunities to express themselves artistically."

When asked whether a choir should enter an international competition if it doubts whether it is "good enough," both guests answered unanimously: No, by all means do it! "Win or lose, your choir will gain something either way," said Cheng. And Goessens added: "There is so much to do, see and experience during the World Choir Games. That's what you should get involved in. There is so much for your choir to learn and it will be an unforgettable experience - and winning won't be what you remember most!"

HELLO COUNCIL is a series of live talks and online educational workshops under the umbrella of the MUSICA MUNDI ® Academy organized by INTERKULTUR China with the support of INTERKULTUR and the World Choir Council. The HELLO COUNCIL series will constantly bring new information and perspectives to the choral community and try its best to connect them. The next HELLO COUNCIL Talk is scheduled for May 28, 2021. For more details, feel free to contact: iris.huting(at) directly.