MINNEAPOLIS -- Choral music takes center stage this weekend as thousands of conductors, singers and composers from around the world descend on the Twin Cities for a nine-day symposium on their art form.
For the public, it means a lengthy list of mostly free concert events featuring 20 auditioned choral groups representing six continents.
Sixty public performances are scheduled -- mostly in parks or churches or community centers -- starting at 8 p.m. Friday in Orchestra Hall with "I Hear America Singing." The concert will feature the Boys Choir of Harlem, Chanticleer, and the Minnesota Orchestra.
One of the few performances for which a ticket is required, the concert will be repeated at 8 p.m. Saturday. Admission is $17 to $31.
The series of free events, however, get under way in earnest at noon Sunday on St. Paul's Harriet Island, where the Boys Choir of Harlem, Cuba's Entrevoces, and the National Folk Dance Ensemble of Croatia are expected to entertain thousands of choral lovers at the Target Stage Pavilion.
Over the next week, free daytime and evening concerts will feature choral groups from Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia and North America, including those who participate in the "Minnesota Sings Farewell" concert at 7:30 p.m. Aug. 9 at Orchestra Hall.
The symposium's concluding concert, "Minnesota Sings Farewell" will feature the Dale Warland Singers, Moore by Four, and the Vocal Essence Ensemble Singers.
If the choral immersion experience can claim a headliner, it would be Grammy Award-winning a cappella singer Bobby McFerrin, who will appear in concert at 8 p.m. Aug. 7 at Orchestra Hall. Tickets are sold out, according to symposium organizers.
Called the International Choral Festival, the series of performances is part of the Sixth World Symposium on Choral Music, a global event sponsored every few years by the International Federation for Choral Music.
The federation's mission is "to facilitate communication and exchange between choral musicians throughout the world," the organization said in a recent news release, and an estimated 3,000 choral professionals have signed up to attend.
Hosted locally by the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota, the event marks the first time ever the symposium has been conducted in the United States, a spokeswoman said.
A recent addition to the symposium, the festival is designed to foster public interest in choral music, the spokeswoman said.
Auditioned by federation officials, the choral groups were selected for the festival for "the diversity of their talent, sound, repertoire and style," the release said.
"Together, the variety of classical, ethnic and folk traditions will build a world perspective of the choral experience," the release added.
Delegates to the symposium will gather throughout the nine-day event in workshops and seminars, occasionally entertained in non-public performances by participating choirs, the spokeswoman said.
But the public will have plenty of opportunity to sample the musical fare. For a complete schedule, consult the organization's Web site at www.worldchoralsymposium6.org.
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