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Nigeria shines at World Choir Olympics in Russia


Nwokedi, conductor of the choir.

Nwokedi, conductor of the choir.

No matter what happens in the on-going Rio Olympics in Brazil, Nigerians have every reason to celebrate, as the country has again received international acclaim and accolades in the choral music Art. Two of the country’s choirs, The Lagos City Chorale (LCC) and Mountain Top Chorale, are back in the country with gold medals from the just concluded World Choir Olympic held in Sochi, Russia.

Earlier in May, Lagos City Chorale had an 11-day tour of Germany at the invitation of the Confederation of German Choral Association. The group was invited to present African/Nigerian sacred music at Musica Sacra International (International Festival of Sacred Music) in Marktoberdorf, Germany, where they gave a total of 11 concerts of exclusively Nigerian Sacred choral music.

For the LCC, going for its third World Choir Olympics in six years was a big challenge, especially with the dwindling economy our country is experiencing at the moment. However, they mustered last minute courage to attend the world’s largest choral festival and won Gold with a tiny contingent of 10 singers, about 10 per cent of the numerical strength of some other choirs in attendance.

Despite their tiny numerical strength and other challenges, the group still pulled their weight to win gold medal in the champions category, the highest category of the competition.

Also, one of the choirs from Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries, The Mountain Top Chorale, fully sponsored by Dr. D.K. Olukoya, the General Overseer, participated in the global festival and gave an outstanding performance, which also earned them Gold from the champions competition.

The 10-days festival featured 260 choirs from 75 countries, each presenting brand of their country’s choral music. Different types of choir that featured are young children’s choirs, youth choir of equal voices, vocal ensembles, senior choirs, jazz and gospel choirs, male choirs, female choirs, mixed chamber choirs and full mixed choirs. The choirs contested in Mixed Choir, Musica Sacra (Sacred Music) Musica Contemporanea, Music of Spirit and Faith, Gospel, Pop, Folklore, Scenic Folklore and Negro Spiritual categories.

For 10 days, Sochi was the world’s cultural capital and a melting pot for different cultures of the world. Each country proudly displayed her culture embedded in indigenous choral music, traditional musical instruments, costumes and choreography. The Nigerian contingents were not left out, as they delightfully presented Nigerian indigenous choral music with traditional music instruments, adorning different attractive fabrics in National colours.

The opening and closing ceremonies were most colourful and unreservedly attracted felicitations from the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Puttin; the attendance of the Deputy Chair of the Russian Federation, Olga Golodets, who is also the chairman of the organising committee of the 9th World Choir Games, Sochi.

Other top government officials in attendance include the Minister of Culture of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Medinsky, who is the Co-Chairman of the Organising Committee; the Governor of Krasnodar Region, Veniamin Kondratiev and the Mayor of Sochi, Anatoly Pakhonov. The Interkultur team led by its President Gunter Tistch were on ground to co-ordinate events, while the Russian Choral Society with its Director gave tremendous support for the smooth running of the events.

“Of great significance is the total commitment and support given by all levels of government of the Russian Federation to the choral music art, which may be wrongly perceived as unserious by societies without good understanding of the impact of choral arts in the society,” leader of the LCC Emeka Nwokedi said.

The Olympic facilities used for winter Olympics in 2014 and being upgraded for 2018 FIFA World Cup were readily made available for the World Choir Olympics, thus underscoring the equal importance the Russian Federation has attached to sports and music. The Russian Federation, the Regional Government and the Administration of City of Sochi contributed significantly to the successful hosting of the world’s largest choral festival.

“Societies still with prejudice for organised choral music may borrow a leaf from the Russian experience where both sports and choral art were given balanced support and attention,” Nwokedi noted.

Choral music tradition is the soul of every culture, verbalised and heightened through the art of singing. The recent universal choral movement such as the world choir Olympics creates friendly bridge of communication amongst various cultures. It fosters international cultural co-operation and above all an instrument for peace and unity of the world. Choral music helps the preservation of rich cultural and historical heritage of any society. It brings acculturation to an unimaginable height with borrowing, adaptation and integration of different cultures.

The Lagos City Chorale has in the past six years represented Nigeria and won laurels and accolades at different world’s choral festivals in China, USA, Austria, Latvia, Germany and Russia. At the 2nd European Choir Olympics in Magdeburg, Germany in 2015, the group had a Special Award of Honour for continued contribution to the ideal of international understanding and peace initiative through music – an attribute not just to Lagos City Chorale but to Nigeria as her choir sings in unison and in harmony with other world choirs to bring peace to the world.

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