For 12 years I lived in Washington, DC. It’s a US city, but it’s an international city. Walk down the street and you will see people of every nationality. Sit down in any restaurant, theater or park bench and you will hear the person next to you speaking a different language. And when you’re going out to eat, it’s not, “Where do you want to eat,” it’s “What national cuisine do you want to eat.”
Then I moved to Cincinnati, the place where my husband lived. After living here for a week, my husband asked, “What do you think?” I said, “Everyone is white and speaks English and where am I going to get a good Pad Thai or Saag Paneer?” That was over 19 years ago. A lot has changed in 19 years, for the better I might add, but it hasn’t been till this week that I have felt Cincinnati to be an international city. And that’s because this week, it really is!
For the first time in its 12 year history, the World Choir Games are being held in North America and they picked little ole Cincinnati to be the host. Now, if you’re like most people, you have no idea what the World Choir Games are.
Think Olympics of choral music. Nations from all over the world come together to “compete” using their voices. I say “compete” because while you are trying to shine and be the best, the reality is, you are competing only against yourself. If you’re great, you win a gold “medal.” And if another team is great, they too win a gold “medal.” So while your numbers may outrank another choir, multiple choirs can win golds, or silvers or bronzes.
Why did Cincinnati win the bid for the 2012 World Choir Games. Well, we don’t know all the details that went into the decision making process, but the city’s commitment to the arts is exceptional. The artistic opportunities in this city far exceed those of any other city this size. And there are plenty of arts patrons to support these artistic opportunities.
And then there’s the venues; a size able number of theaters all within close proximity to each other. Cincinnati’s May Festival Choir is the oldest continuous choir in the Western Hemisphere and the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra is the 5th oldest symphony in the United States. It probably didn’t hurt that we have the only K-12 public arts school, The School for the Creative and Performing Arts, in the world.
So this year, from July 4th through July 14th, Cincinnati has become an international city. 64 nations have sent more than 350 choirs to the city to participate in this year’s games. For the first time since I’ve moved to Cincinnati, I can see people of all different nationalities walking down the streets and hear languages from half way around the world. It’s an exciting time to be in this city. If you live close by, be sure to participate in one of the many events to occur during the last four days.
As for that Pad Thai and Saag Paneer, well I now have a Thai restaurant and four Indian restaurants within walking distance of my home, so all is well.