With the ringing of a huge bell the ninth edition of the biennial World Choir Games were opened in the southern Black Sea resort of Sochi this past week.
Known as "the Olympics of choral music", the games saw 283 choirs signing up to take part with a total of 12,00 participants from 36 countries.
The games, founded in 2000, is staged in the spirit of inter-ethnic solidarity and friendship, according to organisers, and is the largest international choir competition in the world.
The festival is organised by Interkultur and invites amateur choirs from around the world to take part.
"Everyone that travelled here to see us today at the beautiful Black Sea Coast to sing with us together, to celebrate a good party with choir music together, a warm welcome to Sochi," said World Choir Games President Gunter Titsch at the recent grand opening ceremony, staged in the Olympic Village from the 2014 winter games hosted by Russia.
Among the sixty international judges that will evaluate the performances in 29 different categories are some of the world's most popular choral experts, according to organisers.
Participating countries include Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, Spain and Sweden.
The elaborate opening ceremony saw participants showcase their vocal talent in a celebratory song and dance spectacle. Supporters and fans joined with Mexican waves.
Gunter Titsch, Russia's deputy minister of culture Alexander Zhuravskiy and the mayor of Sochi Anatoly Pakhomov rang the World Choir Games Peace Bell together five times to mark the opening of the games, with each ring representing the world's continents.
The World Choir Games draws to an end on July 16th.
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