Local choral group heads to World Choir Games

For the next 10 days, Masterworks Chorale of Carroll County performers will be in the midst of more than 15,000 participants at one of the world's largest singing competitions.

Masterworks is taking part in the 2012 World Choir Games in Cincinnati, Ohio.

This is the nonprofit choral organization's first foray to the global competition put on by Interkultur, a Germany-based arts organization with ties to 120,000 choirs worldwide.

The choral competition takes place every two years.

This is the first time the World Games is being held in the United States, and it's drawing considerably more American choirs than past competitions did, said Interkultur artistic coordinator Kim Mann.

More than 150 American choral organizations are in Cincinnati for the event, a new record representation at the choir games for any country. Past games drew, on average, a dozen American choral groups, Mann said. The last World Games was in China in 2010.

During the World Games, 23 different musical categories will compete in categories ranging from a Capella barbershop to gospel.

"They are going to be evaluated by an international panel of adjudicators," Mann said. "That chance doesn't just happen every day."

Several choirs, Masterworks included, have chosen not to officially compete for top honors but will still receive judging remarks and perform at multiple venues.

Masterworks director Margaret Boudreaux preferred her group learn, listen and have fun.

Masterwork's evaluation performance is Friday. It will include a selection from "The Battle," a piece by Carroll County composer Garth Baxter.

Prior to Masterwork's spring concert in May, Baxter said he was honored to have his music performed on such a large scale.

Masterworks will also perform at sites in and around Cincinnati, including a 5 p.m. Saturday Organ Friendship Concert at Holy Trinity Parish Church in Norwood, Ohio.

"One of the reasons we are doing the organ concert is because last year was so focused on the newly renovated Aeolian Skinner at our main venue," Boudreaux said of the renovated installation at McDaniel's Big Baker Chapel. "So we'd done a lot of organ music."

Masterworks will keep busy until the July 14 closing ceremony, which features performances by Tony Award-winner Idina Menzel and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.

The 2014 World Choir Games are in Riga, Latvia, a travel budget that is likely too expensive for many small choral groups in the United States, Masterworks included. So they are taking advantage of having thousands of performers gathered in one area relatively close to home.

"There was tremendous interest here," Mann said. "This is an event where more American groups than ever could take part."