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Choirs of angels soar in Choral Games

MORE than 20,000 singers are taking part in the 6th World Choir Games underway through next Monday in Shaoxing, a famous watertown near Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province.

The games that opened on July 15 launched the 2,500th anniversary celebration of the city.

The competition has attracted 472 choir teams from 83 countries and regions.

Through the event the local government aims to show a brand-new Shaoxing City with a 2,500-year history. Local people and foreign friends share the joy of choral singing.

"Before I came here I was worried whether Shaoxing could handle this very significant event, but now I want to say Shaoxing has really done it very well," says Professor Eisenbeiss, director of the World Choir Games.

He has visited China many times and remembers his first trip to Shaoxing 20 years ago when he was enchanted by its scenic attractions, history and culture.

"I appreciate the workers and volunteers who make efforts for the 2010 World Choir Games, and it was a great opening ceremony that exceeded my expectations," Eisenbeiss says of the July 15 opening. "It highlighted the water city with its rich history and culture."

Although more than 260 Chinese choir teams are competing, choral singing is not a traditional form of Chinese entertainment and has only been around for 100 years.

One of the notable entries is Croatia's Magic Flute Team that performed in its first match on July 19, all singers wearing white national dress with a vivid red "Heart of Croatia" patch.

"We would like to give the heart to friends we met at the 6th World Choir Games," says one member of the Magic Flute Team, which has more than 20 years' experience and has won 24 international awards.

"The next World Choir Games will be held in Cincinnati, Ohio, the United States, and I am very glad I could come to Shaoxing," says Michael Perry who works for the Cincinnati USA WCG Committee. Without the competition, he would not have been able to visit the beautiful city with such delicious food, he says.

The Women of Banja Luka (Bosnia-Herzegovina) Choir has 33 years of experience and has attended several world-class competitions.

"We have fully prepared for this competition and we hope we can excel," says Matovic, the conductor.

To the foreign competitors, Shaoxing is an attractive and exotic city.

"This is our first time to China and we have spent one year practicing and preparing for this event," says Tarida Christ Natalia, manager and leader of Elshaddai USU Choir from Indonesia. "I hope we can win and can hang out in this beautiful city.

"The main problem is the language because competitors come from so many different countries that communication is a big challenge. Most foreign singers cannot speak Chinese and only half can speak English."

"We can speak five languages - Mandarin, Cantonese, Malay and English," says Chen Yongan, 13, from the Tarrega team of Malaysia.

The Shaoxing government has prepared carefully for the choir games, ensured the best conditions for competitors and even invited special dieticians to prepare food for foreign singers.


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