President of INTERKULTUR
Holder of the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany
It all started in 1990 when Günter Titsch, born in 1946 and a passionate choir singer, founded the association INTERKULTUR. Living in “Germany’s singing city” Pohlheim near Gießen he was convinced: “Singing in a choir creates peace through the means of enthusiasm! Offer choral singers an enthralling competition on an international level and their music will build a bridge between their nations that will cross all borders!”
His job as a consultant regarding business, IT and tax issues got him in contact with people all across Europe. These contacts built up the network of the newly established association that made its business by creating novel choral events on an international level.
The first international choral competition in Budapest in 1988 became a successful starting point. Right from the beginning Titsch was convinced of the power of his idea that choral singing was able to establish bridges between all parts of the world and to unite people from all continents together as one big family by the means of music. The connective element of enthusiasm for choral singing would be able to eliminate prejudices, enable friendships across borders and create a lively and peaceful get-together exceeding music and without any limits regarding nationalities, ideologies and religions.
Günter Titsch and his internationally experienced team developed the INTERKULTUR choir events into the largest and most successful choral event series worldwide. The most ground-breaking success however was the idea to create major events following the ancient archetype of the Olympic Games in a new way. These “Choir Olympics”, which became further on well-known as the „World Choir Games“, have become the world’s largest choir competition. This event is being held biannually and features all categories of singing and captivates thousands enthusiastic singers, choral experts and music lovers. Starting 2000 in Austria (Linz), further countries such as Korea (Busan), Germany (Bremen), Austria (Graz), China (Xiamen and Shaoxing), USA (Cincinnati), Latvia (Riga) and Sochi (Russia) became further stopovers until 2016. In 2018 the 10th edition of the World Choir Games premiered on the African continent, in Tshwane, in the Province of Gauteng (South Africa). In 2020 the event, will come back to Europe: From July 5–15, 2020 the region of Flanders in Belgium will welcome choirs from all over the world. For the first time the World Choir Games will take place in two host cities then, in Antwerp and Ghent.
The World Choir Games 2014 held in the Latvian capital of Riga attracted 460 choirs from 74 nations and 27.000 participants and thus represent the largest Games in the history of this successful event series so far. In 2016, in times of global political challenges the 9th World Choir Games were an important platform of intercultural exchange, a unifying power between all peoples and a symbol of peace for all countries on earth. INTERKULTUR organized the World Choir Games 2016 in close cooperation with the ministry of culture of the Russian Federation, the region of Krasnodar and the city of Sochi.
With his passion for music and his unfailing commitment Günter Titsch developed INTERKULTUR within 30 years into the world’s leading organization regarding international choral events. Its competitions and festivals nowadays set worldwide standards concerning the artistic level and professional organization of such events. Until now about 9.800 choirs with roughly 425.000 singers from 106 nations participated in the competitions. This was made possible due to the comprehensive support of international choral music by cities, provinces, ministries and provincial governments as well as numerous international sponsors. To date, INTERKULTUR has organized more than 220 choral events worldwide.
Günter Titsch received numerous awards and distinctions for his long-lasting engagement which not limited to the field of music only, being e.g. member of the board of trustees of the German Sports Aid Foundation. Representing INTERKULTUR he was awarded the European Culture Award (KULTURPREIS EUROPA) in 2006. Ten years later, on the occasion of the 9th World Choir Games 2016 in Sochi, Russia he received the Medal of Honor by the Kulturforum Europa e.V. to reward INTERKULTUR’s significantly extended international work of recent years.
In July 2009 his outstanding cultural commitment for the People’s Republic of China on an international level earned him a special distinction: As one of the first Europeans Günter Titsch was awarded the HONORARY CITIZENSHIP by the South Chinese port town Xiamen (4,6 m citizens). This award is considered a very prestigious one in China and implies for Günter Titsch a notable honor especially regarding the support of German-Chinese relationships.
In subsequent years Günter Titsch was able to intensify the good relationship with China, where he has been enjoying an excellent reputation. In November 2016 he was accorded the honor of speaking at the “China International Friendship Cities Conference” in Chongqin to more than 700 Chinese and international representatives from 144 cities and 56 countries. In his speech he explained how international choral events are able to build a city’s reputation in open atmosphere and hospitality. In November 2018 he was invited to the conference once more and spoke again to participants from 60 countries. His ideas of economic promotion and cultural tourism were well received by the highly interested conference participants.
Apart from numerous awards and honorary memberships by organizations, international choral associations and governmental institutions, Günter Titsch received in April 2012 the Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany by the Joachim Gauck, the then-President of the Federal Republic of Germany for his credits as a “voluntary ambassador of culture”. In December 2012 this distinction was awarded to him by the premier of Hesse, Volker Bouffier, during a ceremony at the state chancellery in Wiesbaden.
It’s not least due to Günter Titsch’s personal commitment that in Riga (Latvia) a new milestone in the history of choral music was set on July 22, 2017: The premiere of the TV-Show “Eurovision Choir of the Year”. This Europe-wide competition for choirs was initiated by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) in cooperation with INTERKULTUR – inspired by the popular Eurovision Song Contest and the World Choir Games. The show captures the growing trend of choral singing and combines Europe’s most popular singing competition and the largest international choir competition in the world. On August 3, 2019 the show will continue in Gothenburg, Sweden and marks the opening of the European Choir Games 2019.