Clash of the choirs

The inaugural Clash of the Choirs festival, held in Aberdeen on Saturday 30th September, showcased some enjoyable performances from the participating choirs. The venue, the Library Hall, had been draped with brightly coloured material, emphasising the colours of the South African flag. Members of Aberdeen CPF were on hand in case of any problems, and Capt Qashani of Aberdeen SAPS had any security concerns covered.

Programme Director Jeanette Tinus kept the event flowing, after a rather delayed start due to the late arrival of several of the choirs. Unfortunately the Mayor was unable to attend, but Chief Whip Cllr Angeline Booysen was present to represent Council, and welcomed everyone to the festival.

Zoleka Sakata from the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture explained the purpose of the day, giving some background to Heritage Day. He explained that many people had attempted to analyse and explain the significance of the various colours in the South African flag, but in reality, it simplify reflected the diversity of the country and its people, living side by side.

Organiser Lucricia Jackson from the Special Projects Unit of the Dr Beyers Naude Local Municipality then introduced the judges: Cllr Notizi Vanda from Jansenville; Garth Hitge (previously  Revenue Accountant in Camdeboo Municipality, and organist at St James’ Church); Malibongwe Qwibi from the Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture, Roberto de Jager (Area Music Coordinator for the New Apostolic Church); and teacher and talented musician Esteline de Jager.

Before the competition started, entertainment was provided by Dolce, a group of singers from Graaff-Reinet, and some very energetic young traditional dancers from Jansenville.

Each choir then sang a short introductory piece, from their places in the audience, before the competition got under way.

Unfortunately several choirs had dropped out at the last moment, and of the 13 allocated a place on the programme, only eight arrived and performed. No church choirs at all took part, despite the abundance of talent in this area, and only two primary schools and one high school from the education sector. This was perhaps understandable though, as the festival took place after the schools had closed for the holidays.

The first section was for primary schools, and both Hobson Khanyisa Primary from Klipplaat and Elmor Primary from Willowmore acquitted themselves well.

Nqweba High School choir’s moving renditions were probably the highlight of the whole competition, with outstanding presentation as well as a powerful combination of voices. Even their short introductory excerpt brought tears to the eyes of many.

As there were no church choirs, the judges decided to split the community choir entrants into two sections, as it was felt that it was too difficult to judge children and youth choirs against adult choirs. Thus the youngsters of Mloza Juniors competed against the Jansenville Youth Choir, both of which performed well.

The remaining three community choirs then competed for the third category. Wessels Choir, from Graaff-Reinet, was followed by the Lisakhanya Choral Group and Mloza Senior choir, both from Aberdeen.

On behalf of the judges, Cllr Vanda summed up the criteria used to determine the winners, which included note value, accuracy and tone, as well as creativity and presentation. She explained that she had started her teaching career in Aberdeen back in 1966, and thus it was a special privilege for her to be back in the town to be part of the judging panel for the festival. She said that she hoped that more choirs would take part next year, and stressed that choirs should take part for the joy of singing, rather than for the prizes.

Cllr Booysen then also spoke briefly, thanking the judges and invited guests, as well as Jackson for the organisation of the day. Jackson had been assisted by Gerrit Oormeyer, the Graaff-Reinet CPF Youth Chairperson, who was responsible for the décor and design. Each of the judges was given a small gift.
The winning choirs were then announced. Elmor Primary were the winners in the primary schools category, and, despite the lack of competition, the judges were very happy to award the secondary schools’ trophy to Nqweba High School for their outstanding performance. The Jansenville Youth Choir, won their section, and the final winners were Mloza Senior Choir.

Each winning choir received an attractive trophy and R2 000, sponsored by Goldrush. The organisers are very grateful to Goldrush, who agreed to the sponsorship of prizes and refreshments at short notice. Jackson would also like to thank the Sarah Baartman District Municipality, the Advertiser, and the Departments of Education and Sports, Recreation and Culture for their support.

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