Pusan to Welcome Choir Olympics: 75,000 Singers, Experts, Tourists

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Pusan to Welcome Choir Olympics: 75,000 Singers, Experts, Tourists

The second Choir Olympics, the world's largest choral competition and festival, will take place in Pusan from Oct. 19 to Oct. 27, 2002.

Pusan officials announced that the city had received an official letter of confirmation from the director of the organizing committee of the Choir Olympics, Gunter Titsch. He also announced that Ralf Eisenbeiss, the committe's artistic director, will visit Pusan from Monday to Thursday to discuss the details of preparation for the Choir Olympics 2002.

Mr. Titsch and his party visited Pusan in January, inspecting the progress of construction of the Bexco Convention Center and visiting the Pusan Culture Center and Haeundae beach. Afterward, Mr. Titsch spoke to leaders of Korean choirs, hinting that it was a strong possibility that Pusan would be chosen as host city for the event.

The first Choir Olympics was held in the Austrian city of Linz last year with more than 15,000 choral singers from 60 countries. The Choir Olympics embraces the same principles that the sporting Olympics do - that by bringing people together, differences can be overcome. About 350 choirs from all over the world participated in 28 competition categories, such as children's choirs, folklore a cappella, mixed chamber choirs, Musica Sacra and mixed choirs.

Other highlights of the Choir Olympics in addition to the main competitions are the opening ceremony, gala concerts, friendship concerts, the final ceremony, a symposium on choral music and an exhibition of music videos and CDs.

The city of Pusan expects that about 25,000 people, including musicologists and experts who will participate in the symposium, will attend the second Choir Olympics, and that over 50,000 tourists will visit the event. Through it, the city also expects to reap economic benefits to the tune of about 100 billion won ($79 million) - an amount roughly equivalent to that earned exporting 20,000 cars.

The city is confident that Pusan will be ready to host the Choir Olympics, with 30 performing spaces of various sizes, including a 900-seat cultural center that will open early to mid 2002.

The timing of the Choir Olympics means it will take place after the city plays joint host to the 2002 Asian Games and the 2002 World Cup, and many of the same facilities will be available. Pusan, between the ancient Silla capital of Chongju and the island of Cheju, the most popular tourist attractions in Korea, also expects to benefit from its favorable location.

The city, however, still faces the problem of obtaining the 7.1 billion won required to host the event. Pusan has also lost precious time to prepare for the event due to disagreements between figures in the Korean choral music world. Nevertheless, the city, which is seeing its profile rise, has embraced the opportunity with optimism and enthusiasm.

The Choir Olympics site is at www.choirolympics.com.

by Lee Jang-jik

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