Choir cheering at Awards Ceremony © Jonas Persson

Sing for Gold and Compete: 10 years of Choral Singing in Catalonia

A decade of choir competitions in Barcelona and Calella


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For ten years Canta al mar - Festival Coral Internacional has brought together the Mediterranean Sea, sun and Catalonian culture in a celebration of song. As one of the most successful INTERKULTUR Events, Canta al mar stands alongside major events such as the World Choir Games, and shining the spotlight on the beauties and charms of the Spanish soil every year.

Bringing a brand-new event format to Calella and Barcelona after 10 years, SING FOR GOLD – The World Choral Cup will invite choirs from all over the world to come to the Spanish coast and do what they’ve missed so much in the past 1,5 years: Singing, having fun at the beach and meeting new friends from all over the world!

The tradition of Choral Singing in Catalonia

The choice of Calella and Barcelona as new destination for an international choir festival was not by chance, back in 2012. Spain is a sought-after destination for people from all over the world, and Catalonia is one of the two regions in the country that are characterized by a rich choral culture. 

Along with Catalonia, the Basque country is the second region where choral singing is deeply rooted in the country’s cultural identity and promoted through famous singing groups like the Odarra Men’s Choir or Leioa Kantika Korala. However, the sound of choral music in Catalonia is very different from choral singing in the Basque country, as Òscar Boada, Artistic Director of Canta al mar since 2017 explains:  

“While Basque choral singing has been nurtured by their wish of singing after a good and often overabundant meal, Choral Singing in Catalonia was born as a way to bring the workers to great music, and avoid them singing songs of dubious taste, like ones they used to sing in their taverns. This has, believe it or not, affected our way to choral singing and while Basque choirs tend to be more expansive in sound and expression, the Catalan choirs have enjoyed a more ‘relaxed’ or still way to choral music.”

A famous example of choirs from the region of Catalonia is the Escolania de Montserrat, one of the oldest boys’ choirs in Europe. It is based near Barcelona in the abbey Santa Maria de Montserrat, one of the most famous places to visit in Catalonia!

A success from the very first day

It turned out right from the start that Catalonia was a destination the choral world had been waiting for. With 80 choirs from 30 nations and 2,600 singers competing in 13 categories, the birth of the new choir competition on the Spanish coast in 2012 experienced an enormous response from the international choral community from the very first day, which continues unabated to this day – its 10th anniversary celebration in 2022!

One of the choirs from the region of Catalonia that participated in INTERKULTUR’s choir competition in Barcelona and Calella is the Coral Juvenil Santa Maria Pineda de Mar. The young children haven’t missed a Canta al mar event since 2013 and thus brought the tradition of choral singing in Catalonia to a wide audience. Moreover, they are aware of the rare opportunity that these kind of events – the World Choir Games and all other international choral competitions – have to offer: a once-in-a-lifetime experience; the feeling of meeting the whole world at one place and to understand each other only through the language of music.

Since then, the annual event has become a set date in the calendar of many choir singers and choir conductors due to outstanding choir concerts and competitions, musical celebrations and a memorable festival flair.

Sing for Gold and win the World Choral Cup

In 2022 INTERKULTUR will be opening a new chapter about choral events in Spain on the 10th anniversary of choral singing in Catalonia. What began with Canta al Mar 2012 will then be complemented by a completely new event format: SING FOR GOLD takes place from May 14-22 in 2022. Choirs from all over the world are invited to compete for medals, a place in the INTERKULTUR World Rankings and especially for the World Choral Cup, the first-ever World Cup of Choirs.

After the World Choir Games awards, the World Choral Cup is going to be one of the most prestigious awards of INTERKULTUR Events. A great opportunity for a new choral celebration after ten years of choral singing at the Costa de Barcelona!  

Choir competitions as a way back to previous standards

And there is another aspect to underline the importance of this festival for the international choral scene: the preparation for the competition will give them new motivation, a goal to practice and help them to get back to their normal, pre-pandemic standard. A competition will support choirs in their individual growth, as Òscar Boada once stated:  

“The preparation for the competition is, in itself, a complete path to improve the level of the choir, without minding the actual level of the ensemble. If properly prepared, a competition will always lead the choir to a higher development.”

The choir competition and festival in Barcelona and Calella will consist of a general competition inviting all non-professional choirs and singers to compete in 10 categories, and of an elite competition bringing again on stage the best choirs for the World Choral Cup. In addition, the event will offer non-competitive evaluation possibilities and coaching as well as Friendship Concerts.

Taking place at Calella’s and Barcelona’s popular stages, SING FOR GOLD represents the competitive choral approach for singers throughout the world. Get more information here!