Reflections on the World Choir Games, 2012


This summer, thirty members of the Cantabella Honors Choir, part of the Tri ValleyÕs own Cantabella ChildrenÕs Chorus, packed their bags and headed to Cincinnati, Ohio for the 7th World Choir Games. Starting on July 4, 2012 with the ringing of the Peace Bell at the Opening Ceremony, this international competition features choirs of all categories from countries around the world. Cincinnati, the first U.S. city to host the World Choir Games, welcomed all of these newcomers with open arms, mustering up thousands of smiling volunteers, banners, and the use of the many performance venues, halls, and hotels. Competitions progressed throughout the two-week duration of the Games, some choirs competing in the Open Competition and others in the Champions Competition. Amidst the competitions, the choirs performed with other choirs in Friendship Concerts held throughout the Cincinnati area. The last day of the Games, July 14th, included the Award Ceremony, the Champions Concert, and the Closing Ceremony, at which the Peace Bell tolled again to signal the end of the 7th World Choir Games and the anticipation for the 8th World Choir Games, to be held in Riga, Latvia in 2014.

         After a year of preparation and several more summer rehearsals, the Cantabella Honors Choir left the morning of July 10, 2012 from San Francisco International Airport for Cincinnati, Ohio. Upon arrival, the choir knew that the trip was going to be memorable. As the bus drove the preteens and teens, along with parent chaperones, director Eileen Chang, and CantabellaÕs artistic director Bee Chow, to their hotel, the choristers marveled at the murals on the buildings, the banners and posters advertising the World Choir Games, and of course, the countless themed statues of pigs that lined the sidewalks.

         The next morning, the choir was led to the Duke Energy Center, in which all the meals were served buffet-style and where Cantabella singers could mingle with students from other choirs and other countries. Language barriers proved to be no issue as Cantabella members bonded with members of a Chinese childrenÕs choir.

         The next few days were occupied with rehearsals for the competition performances. Cantabella also was able to see some of the other choirs compete. On Wednesday night, Cantabella was bused to the nearby Kenton County Public Library in Kentucky to sing at a friendship concert.

         When Friday came, the day of competition, Cantabella arrived at CincinnatiÕs School for the Creative and Performing Arts, where they performed in the Champions Competition in the ChildrenÕs Choir category. Later that day, the choir walked to the Cincinnati Masonic Center to compete in the Champions Competition in the Musica Contemporanea category.

         On Saturday, the last day of the 2012 World Choir Games, Cantabella attended the Award Ceremony at the U.S. Bank Arena. The anticipation grew as the choirs were listed off and their scores revealed, from lowest to highest scores, and the Cantabella choristers held hands as they waited for their choir to be called. Finally their scores were revealed, and they all stood up and cheered. Cantabella ChildrenÕs Choir received silver medals in both categories, with a score of 73.38 out of 100 in the ChildrenÕs Choir category and 66.13 in the Musica Contemporanea category. Cantabella proudly walked away with two commemorative silver medals, and then headed to the Champions Concert at CincinnatiÕs Music Hall. The winning choirs in each category were impressive and deserving of their titles. The favorite champion of many Cantabella members was the Kearsney College Choir from South Africa, champion in the Scenic Folklore category, which performed traditional African songs, including one featured in DisneyÕs The Lion King.

         Later that night, Cantabella attended the Closing Ceremony at the U.S. Bank Arena. The Peace Bell tolled to end the Games, and representatives from Latvia introduced the upcoming 2014 World Choir Games to be held in Riga, Latvia. GŸnter Titsch, the founder of the nonprofit international organization INTERKULTUR, spoke about the success of the 2012 World Choir Games. The choirs were then treated to performances by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra and the World Choir Games mass choir, Grammy Award winner Marvin Winans, and Tony Award winner Idina Menzel.

         After this fun-filled and dramatic ending to nearly a week of singing, Cantabella ChildrenÕs Chorus arrived home in California on Sunday, July 15th, with two more awards under their belts and memories to last a lifetime.



~ Kathleen Hornbacker, Cantabella Honors Choir Student