« New Barbershop Champs Vocal Spectrum | Main | M-Pact in L.A »

July 10, 2006

Choir to compete in world games

Deseret Morning News (UT):

Of all the choirs of all ages and types selected to compete in the World Choir Games (formerly known as the World Choir Olympics), only one was chosen to represent the American continent in the opening ceremony, the International Children's Choir. "They gather all the nations of the world, and they compete, like in an Olympic setting," said Sheri Stettler, choir manager. "So it is a big deal."

The International Children's Choir (and accompanying family members) are leaving today for Xiamen, China, to participate in the largest choir competition in the world several hundred choirs competing from 45 countries. The Choir will compete in two divisions: "Music of the Religions" and "Children's Choir." For the "Music of the Religions," director Dr. Kathy Sorensen has selected music from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Arrangements of "The Spirit of God" and "Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise," by Mack Wilberg; a companion arrangement of two LDS hymns by Sue Neimoyer, and Janice Kapp Perry's "A Child's Prayer" (sung in several different languages) will be presented.

"That's my favorite (category) because nobody else will even be touching that at all," said Sorensen. "My favorite is 'Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise,' period. We are doing it at the opening ceremony." When asked why the LDS focus, Sorensen said, "It would be like if we were from Rome, we would have chosen the Catholic music. Since we're in Utah and it's the headquarters of the LDS church, it kind of seems obvious that we would do that." Besides, she added, the instructions specify that music must be distinctive of the religion in the competitor's area. "Otherwise we would get into what we normally do, which is all the music of everybody of the world."

For the children's choir division, she said, selections are more typical of what the choir normally sings, which means music from different cultures, languages and religions including a Mexican dance to represent the Hispanic population in Utah and a gospel song to represent Utah's African-American population.One thing that's not typical, however, is that the choir is incomplete. Only 60 of the 110-voice choir will be traveling to China for the competition, as the costs are borne by the individual families of choir members. That makes it a more challenging task from a musical standpoint, it's tricky to achieve a proper balance between the various choral parts with an imbalanced self-selection process, and they'll be competing against other groups from places like China, where having a full choir represented is much easier.

One of the pieces, "Ave Maria" by Holst, is for double choir, which means the choir will be split in half, with each half singing four different parts. "There are only 60 kids, and they're split eight ways," said Sorensen, "and some of them are really little." What's more, for the "Music of the Religions" category there is no age qualification, so the children will be competing against older and more mature choirs.

Nonetheless, Sorensen feels optimistic. After all, the choir has already been honored in representing the American continent, and in being chosen as a select choir to perform in a gala event. "The main thing is that we get to go to China and do something worthwhile. I don't care if we come back with any awards or anything. I think it's fabulous that we get to sing for the opening ceremonies."

Posted by acapnews at July 10, 2006 11:02 PM