Summer is the season for competition. Every four years, we watch, support and cheer for our favorite countries in the Summer Olympics. From July 4–14, the World Choir Games—the Olympics of choral music—will let us do the same, in our own backyard. The biennial Games will make their United States debut this year, in venues throughout downtown Cincinnati.
Over 350 choirs, representing more than 48 countries (including 22 of the 50 United States), will compete for a gold medal and the title of Champion of the World Choir Games. Thanks to the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, funded by The Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati and with additional support from Susan Brenner and Steven Mombach and Harry and April Davidow, Israel is one of those 48 countries.
The Ankor Choir will compete during the first week of the Games (specific dates and times have not yet been released) and then spend the second week touring the Cincinnati area and specifically the Jewish community, including visits to the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education, Hillel Cincinnati, Hebrew Union College and the American Jewish Archives. They will lead an interactive song activity at the Mayerson JCC’s Camp at the J and perform at Cedar Village retirement community, Heritage Baptist Church and Wise Temple and other congregations.
Their largest non-competition performance will be a free concert at the Mayerson JCC on Monday, July 9, at 7 p.m. They will sing alongside choirs from Poland and the United States at one of 58 Friendship Concerts being held throughout the greater Cincinnati area. Those interested in attending the July 9 performance should RSVP to the JCC. The Friendship Concert is funded by the Wolf Center for Arts & Ideas at the JCC.
The Ankor Choir—made up of 25 female students of the Jerusalem Academy High School of Music and Dance—is best known for its partnership with Yad VaShem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial Museum. They participate in the annual Yom HaShoah ceremony and put on a special performance for each foreign head of state who visits Israel. Most notably, they have sung for President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II. Zubin Mehta, conductor of the Israeli Philharmonic Orchestra, has said that the choir has "…the pure sound of angels."
Choir Director Dafna Ben-Yohana is excited for the opportunity to participate in the Games. "We are looking forward to making music and giving the audience a taste of a different kind of Israel." She says the entire choir is motivated to win first place, but their main goal is to give the audience an emotional experience. "They are anxious to show both Jews and non-Jews that Israel is filled with lovely young people who are both talented and dedicated to culture and music."
During their two weeks in Cincinnati, the choir will be escorted by over 20 Jewish community volunteers, whose role is to create a meaningful experience and a positive impression of Cincinnati for the choir members. Volunteer Leon Spitz says, "I am glad to be part of this exciting time for Cincinnati…and to show support for Israel and interact with the choir."
A three-day pass for the Games can be purchased for $40. For more information, visit jewishcincinnati.org/wcg or contact Yair Cohen at 513-985-1535 or email@example.com.