Choral music has become a great tool in bringing people together,” Colombo Cultural Hub Trust Director of Programmes, Soundarie David Rodrigo declared at the second media briefing of the 4th Asia Pacific Choir Games and Grand Prix of Nations, held at the Hilton Colombo Residencies last week.

Taking place from October 21 to October 28 with over 3500 international participants, the organisers at Colombo Cultural Hub Trust in collaboration with the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, German based INTERKULTUR and Dilmah Tea are working hard to ensure the success of the Choir Games.

The event will mark the first time an INTERKULTUR choir event is held in South Asia. Present at the press conference were Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, Udaya Nanayakkara, Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau, Sutheash Balasubramaniam, Director MJF Holdings, Malik Fernando on behalf of Team Dilmah and the executive committee of the Colombo Cultural Hub Trust – Chairman, Mano Chanmugam, Director Operations, Neomal De Alwis and Director Programmes, Soundarie David Rodrigo.

With their mission of establishing Colombo as the cultural centre of South Asia, the Colombo Cultural Hub Trust (CCHT) is presenting this week-long festival of choral competitions, friendship concerts and gala celebration concerts to promote musical education and cultural tourism into Sri Lanka.

This will be a first for not only Sri Lanka but South Asia to witness the “coming together of so many international participants under the banner of ‘singing together, bringing nations together’,” said CCHT Chairman, Mano Chanmugam. Sri Lanka will be welcoming participants and jurors from 17 nations, allowing local audiences to enjoy new music and cultures. The CCHT under the patronage of Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will assist in facilitating the Prime Minister’s vision for the development of music and youth and the vast opportunities the country will receive from an event of this magnitude.

The festival will feature three competitions, each of which will have 10 categories that participants will compete under. Choirs from all over the Asia Pacific region, regardless of their present level of achievement, will participate in the Open Competition. Choirs with international competitive experience will take part in the Asia Pacific Champions Competition and choirs with competitive experience in international choral competitions will compete at the Grand Prix of Nations.

Some of the categories that these professional and amateur choirs will compete in, include Gospel, Spiritual, Jazz, Pop, Folklore, Acappella to name a few.

All the competitions are open and free of charge to public audiences and will be held at the Nelum Pokuna Theatre (October 22,23,24,26 and 27) and the Lionel Wendt Theatre ( October 23, 24,26, 27and 28) from 9 a.m.to 9 p.m. Two special celebration concerts featuring international choirs will take place on October 22 and 26 at 7 p.m.at Temple Trees and Nelum Pokuna respectively. The opening ceremony features a great selection of local talent including RavibanduVidyapathi, the Symphony Orchestra of Sri Lanka, Juilliard trained soprano Tharanga Goonetilleke and the Soul Sounds choir. The limited tickets for these shows are available on tickets.lk

On October 25 at 5 p.m. all participating choirs, most in their colourful national costumes, will join a street parade starting from Nelum Pokuna, winding its way around the Viharamahadevi Park and back again. This event in a fun- filled carnival-like atmosphere is to celebrate the uniqueness of each culture.

Friendship concerts will also be held daily at 5 p.m at the Fairway Center Stage at the Nelum Pokuna premises. On October 23 and 26, it will be a feast of sacred music at the St. Mary’s Church, Bambalapitiya at 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. These concerts are also open to the public free of charge and organisers promise it will be a rare treat to see participating choirs sharing musical traditions and customs of their native lands. On select days the members of the international jury will conduct closed door workshops at the Indian Cultural Centre.

With around 38 international choirs from countries such as China, India, Korea and Croatia (to name a few) taking part, the Chairman of the CCHT is excited, anticipating the stimulating musical experience the week-long event will offer.

A music enthusiast himself, Director of MJF Holdings Malik Fernando sppeaking on behalf of his father Merrill, brother Dilhan and Team Dilmah said the brand’s decision to join in this event was for an “altruistic reason.” Tea and music have much in common Malik stated confirming that “what tea is for the body, music is for the soul.” Team Dilmah is excited to join hands with the organizers for a wonderful week of musical celebration in Colombo, what to date will be the “largest choral music event held in Sri Lanka.”

Chairman of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotions Bureau, Udaya Nanayakkara said Sri Lanka Tourism welcomed these mass scale events adding that the Bureau is also partnering with events like the “Colombo Marathon”, “Fairway Galle Literary Festival” and “Colombo Shopping Festival” as they are “part and parcel of tourism development” and with the assistance of the Bureau, can be done in a bigger way.

The 4th South Asia Pacific Choir Games will “help to position the country as a hub for music and culture,” Managing Director of the Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Sutheash Balasubramaniam said adding that the success of this event will “change and enhance the reputation of Sri Lanka as a preferred destination and help to promote the country” allowing Sri Lanka Tourism to reap the benefits sowed by the mass-scale event.

With some 36 local choirs and over 3500 international and local competitors facing off in the musical arena, the Choir Games will kick off on October 22 at the Nelum Pokuna. For more details of the 4th South Asia Pacific Choir Games programme check out their event page on Facebook.

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