Members of the Columbus International Children's Choir returned last month from participating in the 2014 World Choir Games in Latvia, earning gold and silver medals.
They had another sterling prize waiting for them when they got home: an invitation to Carnegie Hall.
The choir was invited to perform at the famed New York City venue in June 2015, according to artistic director and founder Tatiana Kats.
"It's something to look forward to for the next year," said Kats, who started the choir with a small group of her piano students in 1999.
Now 169 voices strong, with members from throughout central Ohio ranging in age from 4 to 18, the choir rehearses most Saturdays at Bethel International United Methodist Church on the Northwest Side.
This marked the second straight time the Columbus International Children's Choir earned gold and silver medals at the biennial Games, matching their achievement in 2012, when the event was held in Cincinnati.
The children and their 70-plus adult chaperones enjoyed their time in Riga, the capital of Latvia. The competition drew 500 choirs from 75 countries, Kats said.
"That was a great experience," she said. "It was amazing. When you walked on the streets, everywhere choirs were singing or rehearsing."
The Columbus-area youngsters got to mingle with others from around the world, many in national costumes, Kats said. For example, they frequently shared a shuttle bus to the various venues with Russian and South African choirs.
"It was so much fun," Kats said.
The Columbus contingent competed in two categories, one of which pitted them against adult and college choirs. That was the event in which they took silver.
The gold medal was in the youth choir division.
"You never know who you are against," Kats said. "They were all very well-prepared. Overall, we were happy with the results, especially with winning the division. We didn't expect that at all."
Received the highest score to win the gold "was absolutely stunning," she added.
The next World Choir Games will be held in 2016 in Sochi, Russia, the site of the most recent Winter Olympics.
"We would love to go there ... but it depends on the political situation," said Kats, who is originally from Russia.
As for the Carnegie Hall appearance in June, it will be the second time the Columbus International Children's Choir has been there. In 2006, the group was one of several choirs performing.
This time around, Kats said, "They will take the spotlight."