Courtesy of Unity Performing Arts Foundation
FORT WAYNE—The Voices of Unity Youth Choir (VOUYC) returned from their journey to the 8th World Choir Games in Riga, Latvia early on Wednesday morning, July 23. They brought home with them their fifth gold medal and first silver medal since first participating in the bi-annual competition in 2010.
Every two years, thousands of singers from across the globe gather in a different city to celebrate music and engage in friendly competition in what has become the largest choral competition in the world. This year, more than 27,000 singers participated, making this year’s event the largest competition since it started in 2000. VOUYC has participated in this event since 2010.
VOUYC took 53 travelers to Riga, including 30 youth singers between the ages of 9 and 18, as well as four alumni members, staff, mentors, chaperones and a nurse. This trip followed their historic trip to Carnegie Hall in New York for the Choirs of America Nationals, just three weeks prior to leaving for Riga.
The choir participated in several events while in Riga, including the Parade of Nations, featuring the over 70 countries represented in this global event. They also performed in the Stars of the World Choir Games Concert which featured performances by the world-renowned The King Singers, as well as other, select choirs who have also been deemed the best of the World Choir Games. During the concert, the choir sang in front of a live audience of more than 10,000 people in the large Arena Riga. The concert was also televised on Latvian National television to thousands more across Latvia.
Voices of Unity participated in two competition categories this year: Gospel and Pop Music Categories. The Gospel competition took place on Thursday July 17 and the Pop Music competition took place on Friday July 18, both at the Riga Congress Centre.
In the Gospel competition, the choir competed against choirs that included the Riga Gospel Choir, The Mosaic Singers from Detroit and other choirs from Germany and Gibraltar. VOUYC performed music by Kirk Franklin (with whom they performed during the 7th World Choir Games in Cincinnati in 2012), as well as a version of Mozart’s “Joyful, Joyful” made popular by the movie “Sister Act II.” In the Gospel category, VOUYC earned their fifth gold medal with 88.50 points.
In the Pop Music competition, the choir competed against 15 other choirs. They performed music by Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Louis Armstrong. In this category, the choir earned a silver medal with 79.50 points.
Although their trip was full of hectic daily schedules, the group was able to enjoy their last two days in Riga touring the historic city, shopping and relaxing on the beach. The entire trip was a great cultural experience for several of the young travelers. For many of the choir members, it was their first time out of the country and outside of the state of Indiana. There were several opportunities for the choir to engage in a cultural exchange with other singers from around the world. The choirs dined together in Riga’s Olympic Sports Center, and there were several Friendship Concerts held throughout the week, highlighting the different choirs.
The VOUYC students were international ambassadors representing Fort Wayne and the USA. Many of the international choirs at the games knew and followed the Voices of Unity.
For more information about the choir’s trip to Riga, and more information about Unity Performing Arts Foundation, visit their website at www.upaf.com, follow the organization on Facebook at facebook.com/voicesofunity, on Twitter @VoicesOfUnity and on Instagram @thevoicesofunity.