Record numbers sign up for World Choir Games in Antwerp and Ghent


The ‘Olympics of Choir Competition’ will see a record number of participants coming to Flanders next year

542 choirs from 69 countries

A record number of choirs have signed up to compete in next year’s World Choir Games, which is being held in Flanders for the first time. The largest choir competition in the world will be staged in Antwerp and Ghent, bringing more than 30,000 people to the region.

The World Choir Games has been staged every two years since 2000 and is the largest choir event in the world. Any choir considered non-professional can take part in one of nearly 30 categories. There is a special Champions category for the most experienced choirs.

A total of 542 choirs have registered for next year, a record in the history of the event. The choirs come from 69 different countries. Registration for the event closed last week.

The record number has everything to do with the enthusiasm of local choirs: A total of 133 from Belgium have signed up. Still, the event has been held in much larger countries – such as Russia and the United States – with fewer total choirs turning up.

Other countries with a large number of participants in 2020 include China with 82, Russia with 52, and South Africa with 39.

Choral music is in fact extremely diverse and much more accessible that most people realise

- Koenraad De Meulder of Koor&Stem

“Some people think of choral music as a bit stuffy,” says Koenraad De Meulder, director of Koor&Stem, the Antwerp-based choir umbrella organisation co-ordinating the event in Flanders. “Choral music is in fact extremely diverse and much more accessible that most people realise. Scientific studies have also shown that singing together makes people happy and relieves stress. We want to open up the joys of singing to everyone.”

The event runs from 5-15 July and is being split up between Flanders’ biggest cities. An opening ceremony takes place in Antwerp’s Sportpaleis, which will be followed by four days of competition.

On 11 July, there will be a Parade of Nations in Antwerp and then the event moves to Ghent for another four days of competition. The final day sees the closing ceremony taking place back at the Sportpaleis. Singers will also get coaching and evaluations as well as take part in workshops during the entire period.

The opening ceremony, closing ceremony and gala concerts are open to the public as are all of the competitions. Tickets for the opening ceremony are already on sale. Visitors have a wealth of options as competitions take place in 27 categories, such as pop, gospel, jazz, senior choirs and university choirs.

The World Choir Games was founded in the spirit of the Olympics “to peacefully unify people and nations connected by song in a fair competition”.

Photo courtesy EMJ Neerpelt