Flag Drops on World Choir Games Preparation

Cincinnati officials host WCG leaders to start official march to 2012 event

The 2012 World Choir Games are officially Cincinnati’s, as Interkultur President Gunther Titsch presented the event’s flag to Mayor Mark Mallory at the Oct. 20 City Council meeting. But Titsch and WCG Artistic Director Gábor Hollerung had more on their agenda than flag exchanges.

Speaking through an interpreter, Titsch emphasized that they were here to meet with the organizing committee, the Visitors and Convention Bureau and city and county officials to begin planning for what will be the largest international arts event in Cincinnati history. The city’s seven hills will indeed be alive with the sound of music.

A former choral singer himself (“I don’t have time for it any more”), Titsch founded Interkultur in 1988 as an international non-profit organization based in Germany dedicated to producing musical competitions. The World Choir Games were first held in 2000 and are now a biennial event, drawing thousands of choral singers from across the globe.

With less than two years until the opening ceremonies on July 4, 2012, the logistics are daunting: arranging housing and transportation for the estimated 20,000 participants from all over the world, hiring dozens of interpreters in languages ranging from French to Korean and securing venues for 10 days of competitions and performances — not to mention securing sponsorships to support this mammoth undertaking.

“This is a really complicated event,” Hollerung said. “There are large-scale programs like the opening and closing concerts, plus several community concerts. We have a lot of experience producing these events, but the input from the team in Cincinnati has been very imaginative. Considering that Cincinnati has never staged an event like this, the preparation for our discussion is very impressive.”

Titsch is unfazed by the magnitude of details. Since the first WGC in 2000, Interkultur has produced the event in Europe and Asia, most recently in Shaoxing, China. He said Cincinnati’s biggest challenge will be “to welcome the foreign participants — not only to welcome them but to guide them through the event, to care for them and to make sure that this is the best experience for everyone.” He said he’s confident this will be the case, based on the organizing committee’s attention to details and “their impressive professionalism.”

As an international competition, the World Choir Games recognizes that there are choral forms unique to the host country, and the 2012 competition will include two new categories: Barbershop Quartet and Show Choir.

A top priority for this visit is confirming performance spaces, ranging from intimate to outsize. The prospect of US Bank Arena for the opening ceremony is mind-boggling, Hollerung said. “We had exhibition halls in China and in Germany that seated 7 or 8 thousand but nothing like the arena, where people can really have a sense of being all together. ... We are very impressed by the venues, the number and qualities of halls.”

The visitors were scheduled to visit nearby Plum Street Temple after their session at City Hall.

Titsch once again emphasized how professional the Cincinnati committee’s efforts have been.

“With the goal to create an event not only for the audience but for the participants and the world to watch and to portray Cincinnati in the best light possible light,” he said, “you can only accomplish that if you have a professional organization team to manage the details that will create an impression that people will carry with them.”

For more info on the WORLD CHOIR GAMES, check out my feature story on the SingCinnati group that won a silver medal in Shaoxing, China. Find the Cincinnati 2012 WCG web site here.

Anne Arenstein

Anne Arenstein is a frequent contributor to CityBeat, focusing on the performing arts. She has written for the Enquirer, the Cincinnati Symphony, Santa Fe Opera and Cincinnati Opera, and conducted interviews for WVXU's Around Cincinnati. In 2009, Anne was named an NEA Fellow in Classical Music and Opera Journalism...
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