"The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) is excited to launch a new TV talent competition format for amateur choirs, Eurovision Choir of The Year," said a release issued by Latvian Television (LTV), with which LSM is affiliated.
The inaugural Eurovision Choir of the Year contest will be produced by LTV and the Riga Tourism Development Bureau (LIVE RIGA) on 22 July at Arena Riga in the Latvian capital.
"Choirs from 7 EBU Member countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Estonia, Latvia, Germany and Slovenia) will compete for the title, with prizes including a recording deal for the winning choir," the release said, without specifying the value of the prizes or which recording label would sign the winning choir.
Each choir will perform a six minute unaccompanied set in any genre and will be judged by a jury with British composer John Rutter confirmed as a member.
The show will be hosted by Grammy-winning composer and conductor Eric Whitacre and LTV culture presenter Eva Ikstena.
"It is a great pleasure for us that Latvia will become the first country to participate in this promising event, and an even greater pleasure that the organisers are Latvian Television in collaboration with Riga municipality,” said Ivars Belte, Chairman of the Management Board at LTV.
Eurovision Choir of The Year will take place within the European Choir Games, operated by German company Interkultur and organised in collaboration with LIVE RIGA.
150 choirs are expected in Riga to participate in the event, with seven EBU broadcasters confirmed as participants for the new show (Latvia, Germany, Estonia, Slovenia, Belgium, Denmark and Austria).
Love singing? We're excited to launch #Eurovision Choir Of The Year! The first edition is in Riga in July More here: https://t.co/DuZV5bteMA pic.twitter.com/1fA1XBIF0B— EBU (@EBU_HQ) February 28, 2017
Though the Eurovision Song Contest is the most famous result of the EBU's work, it also runs other events including Junior Eurovision, Eurovision Young Musicians and Eurovision Young Dancers. Now Eurovision Choir Of The Year joins that list.
Günter Titsch. president of Interkultur said: "We’re delighted to partner with this new TV format which will bring the joy of singing together to a wide audience."
Riga Council and Interkultur have a track record of collaboration that is already several years old. Riga was the host city for the World Choir Games in 2014 and Eurovision Choir of the Year is part of Interkultur's Grand Prix of Nations Riga 2017 event and the 3rd European Choir Games which will be held in Riga from 16-23 July.
LTV declined to comment to LSM on the cost and funding model for Eurovision Choir Of The Year at this point.
Interkultur charges choirs an annual membership fee of €100 and provides the package deals that allow choir members to compete in their events, so Riga's hotels and others are also likely to benefit from the influx of participants.
"We take care of all the details and through authorized agencies of the Interkultur event series we offer an event package that includes, amongst others, accommodation in different hotel categories as well as other local services," the company promises of the Riga event.
Choirs pay a registration fee of between €200 and €400 to attend the European Choir Games plus €200 per activity, according to the official website.
Interkultur is also looking for cities to host their 2020 World Choir Games at the moment, according to this brochure which includes testimonials from former Latvian President Andris Berzins, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin.
The brochure also gives general guidance on how Interkultur generates revenues both for itself and for the host cities.