World’s largest choir competition to kick off in Gangneung

July 3, 2023

The 2023 World Choir Games (WCG) Gangneung will open in South Korea’s east coast city of Gangneung on Monday, hoping to peacefully unify people and nations around the world through song.

Founded in 2000, the WCG is the world’s largest choir competition, taking place once every two years on different continents and organized by Interkultur, a German-based foundation.

This year’s edition will run for 11 days until July 13, hosting 323 choirs from 34 countries around the world. The event was last held in South Korea in 2002 in the southeastern port city of Busan.

Among the participants in this year’s competition are some 40 members of the Ukrainian girls’ choir Vognyk.

The choir will perform at the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies on Monday and July 13, respectively, as well as the congratulatory concert Wednesday and the friendship concert Thursday.

“My homeland Ukraine is in an extremely difficult situation due to the war,” Olena Solovei, the choir’s conductor, said in a press statement. “But I want to sing a song of peace that will touch the hearts of people all over the world in Korea, which is … a nation that has overcome the difficulties of war.”

Germany’s Sangerkreis Hildburghausen choir, which is coming to Gangeung, holds the record for the longest participation streak in the international choir competition.

Since its establishment and initial participation in the Cincinnati competition in the United States in 2012, the team will be participating in the WCG for the sixth consecutive time.

Also participating in this year’s event are Amaranthe from Belgium, the highest scoring group from last year’s competition held in the country, and the Diocesan Boys School Choir from Hong Kong that achieved the gold medal and the title of world champion in the Riga competition in 2014.

Some 229 local chairs will also take part in this year’s competition.

“Music is the universal language of the world and the best means to connect cultures and nations,” Huh Yong-soo, the chief organizer of the 2023 World Choir Games Gangneung, said in a press statement. “We hope this event will not only serve to develop Korean choral music but also become a festival that brings together the voices of humanity.”