General Conference of the World Choir Council 2021
Representatives from 93 countries and regions meet live and virtually in Flanders
During the World Choir Games 2021, the World Choir Council introduced some new innovations and developments at its traditional General Conference: The show "Greetings to Flanders", the World Choir Council Prize and the composition competition for an Official Song of the World Choir Peace Prize has officially started.
Special Show „GREETINGS TO FLANDERS“
Since the global breakout of the COVID in 2020, INTERKULTUR and the World Choir Council have been releasing a series of the international “Revival of the Choral World” Initiative aiming to unite the choral community and overcome this big new challenge. A special show “GREETINGS TO FLANDERS” featured statements from some distinguished conductors of the World Choir Council and their choirs from all over the world who share their positive thinking and update on the current situation about the part of the world they are living and working in, hoping to bring positive energy into the choral community.
The full GREETINGS TO FLANDERS video show can be watched from Nov 3-30, 2021 in the Virtual Village of the World Choir Games 2021.
World Choir Council Prize: a new project of the World Choir Council 2021
For the first time in the history of the World Choir Games, Virtual Competitions take place for choirs who cannot travel to Flanders due to COVID. This gives the opportunity to stay true to the motto of INTERKULTUR and the World Choir Games: “Participation is the highest honor. Singing Together Brings Nations Together”.
The World Choir Council Prize in the Video Clip Category of the Virtual Competition aims to express appreciation towards choirs for their enthusiasm and to reward their hard work. The choir that gets the most points will receive the World Choir Council Prize. The winning choirs will be announced during the Virtual Awards Ceremony in the Virtual Village on November 7, 2021.
“Composers Competition of the Official Song for the World Choir Peace Prize”
As a further project a “Composers Competition of the Official Song for the World Choir Peace Prize” was introduced and officially announced during the General Conference of the World Choir Council 2021. The World Choir Peace Prize acknowledges individuals or organizations that have made an outstanding contribution to world peace through choral music. INTERKULTUR and the World Choir Council aim to showcase examples of how choral music can positively influence love and peace in our world.
Composers around the world are called to participate in this special Peace Song competition. The winning song will be announced in spring 2022 and the composer will be invited as an Honorary Guest to participate in the world premiere held during the World Choir Games in the Republic of Korea in July 2022.
General Conference of the World Choir Council with a special honor
Representatives from 93 countries and regions meet live and virtually in Flanders for the General Conference of the World Choir Council. This event is one of the essential parts of each edition of the World Choir Games. At its 11th edition in Flanders the conference took place as a hybrid event for the first time in its history.
This year’s General Conference of the World Choir Council was highly innovative and introduced new activities and ideas, which emerged in the past month. The COVID pandemic did not only cause lockdown and silence, but aroused much of creativity throughout the choral world.
But the members on site and virtually also commemorated its members and Honorary Presidents which passed away since the last General Conference in 2018: Guntars Gedulis (Venezuela, † 2019), Prof. Yang Hongnian (China, † 2020) and Mikis Theodorakis (Greece, † 2021). To them and to the all victims of the corona pandemic around the world, those present live and virtually dedicated a minute of silent prayer.
Learning about choral culture
As always, the World Choir Games are also a fantastic place to get to know the variety of choral culture around the world. All participants are able to learn a lot, whether in the competitions, in workshops or the main events. This year’s hosting region Flanders was a perfect showcase of the history of Flemish music culture – from classical and contemporary choral music to its music history in jazz and pop.
Even in the meeting of the World Choir Council the region of Flanders with the cities of Antwerp and Ghent took the opportunity of presenting its creative thinking and ideas of Flemish choral culture to the international Council Members, who will act as ambassadors in their own countries spreading all these ideas now and also in the future.
The next opportunity for the members of the World Choir Council to come together again will not be in two years as usual, but already next year, when the World Choir Games 2022 take place in Gangneung, South Korea in July.
And so, all participants were glad to get already an outlook to the next World Choir Games and to learn what to expect from the next host country in 2022. Due to the pandemic, it was not possible for Korea to send a delegation on site, but nevertheless they sent their invitation video which will once again be presented at the Closing Ceremony of the World Choir Games 2021 on November 7: It started with some world-famous K-Pop, followed by the presentation of the Official Song of the World Choir Games 2022 and ended with a warm invitation by Hwang Hee, Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Republic of Korea.
Honors and Distinctions
There further was a special moment in the General Conference to pay tribute to Prof. Dr. Ralf Eisenbeiß, who acted as INTERKULTUR Artistic Director for almost 30 years and had been appointed Honorary Artistic President of INTERKULTUR, the World Choir Games & World Choir Council in January 2021. A touching video summed up his commitment, ideas and successes over the past decades.
Further, more than 30 members of the World Choir Council were appointed to the Honorary Board this year: Prof. Alejandro Daniel Garavano (Argentina),Prof. Tigran Hekekyan(Armenia), David Slater (Australia),Felix Nassi (Benin),Prof. Theodora Pavlovitch (Bulgaria), Don James (Canada),Prof. Lingfen Wu (China), Raymond Fu (China/Hongkong SAR ),Branko Stark (Croatia),María Felicia Pérez (Cuba), Aarne Saluveer (Estonia), Prof. Jürgen Budday (Germany),Jürgen Faßbender (Germany), Katalin Kiss (Hungary),Thorgerdur Ingólfsdottir (Iceland), Prof. Giovanni Acciai (Italy), Vytautas Miškinis (Lithuania), John Galea (Malta), Christopher Muscat (Malta),Gerardo Rábago Palafox (Mexico),Karen L. Grylls (New Zealand), Tove Ramlo-Ystad (Norway), Kinga Litowska (Poland),Jonathan Velasco (Philippines),Luis A. Olivieri (Commonwealth of Puerto Rico),Pro. Alexander Solovyev (Russia), Soundarie David (Sri Lanka), Karmina Šilec (Slovenia), Oscar Boada (Spain), André van der Merwe (South Africa), Khunying Malaival Boonyaratavej (Thailand), John Haberlen (USA), Dr.Timothy W. Sharp (USA).
These internationally recognized experts have supported the development of INTERKULTUR and the World Choir Events for more than 10 years by actively contributing to the promotion of choral culture in the world and a peaceful coexistence of all nations.
The presentation of this hybrid Council Day at the World Choir Games 2021 closed with the presentation of a certificate of honor to the Local Organizing Committee, Koor & Stem vzw, of this year’s event, presented by INTERKULTUR & World Choir Council President Günter Titsch and First Vice President Wang Qin to Mr. Koenraad de Meulder, Director of LOC World Choir Games 2021 and Ms. Sophie Detremmerie, Chief Operating Officer of the LOC World Choir Games 2021 as its representatives.
As Günter Titsch mentioned on this occasion, the collaboration with the Local Organizing Committee of the World Choir Games 2021 has even overcome the most difficult situations:
“In the difficult Corona period, Koor&Stem vzw has shown the greatest flexibility and openness, allowing choirs from all over the world to participate in the postponed World Choir Games not only on site but also digitally - a premiere for the World Choir Games! With this, Koor&Stem vzw has set a special example for the peaceful gathering of singers, both live and digitally despite the worldwide challenging pandemic situation.”
As INTERKULTUR President Günter Titsch mentioned in his welcome speech, the last General Conference of the World Choir Council took place in 2018, more than three years ago. He was happy that in the meantime there were taking place many Regional and General meetings online but also mentioned that there are some new members on site, which have never taken part in a live meeting of the World Choir Council before.
“I highly appreciate all the digital activities, but at the same time we are human beings, no robots. We want to meet and socialize. Therefore, I really hope that we will be able to come together in person very soon and see all these people which are now on the screen sitting next to us again.”
With all this in mind there was one main thing remaining from this event; a hopeful:
SEE YOU IN KOREA 2022!