'Sacrifice, hard work' - secret behind Gauteng Police Choir being named SA's best

2017-09-26 09:24
The Gauteng Police Choir after winning the Polmusca championship. (Supplied)

The Gauteng Police Choir after winning the Polmusca championship. (Supplied)

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Pretoria - Sacrifice is the secret ingredient behind the Gauteng Police Choir's success at the Unity Festival on Saturday, its conductor said.

The choir was named South Africa's best police choir - the first time in 11 years - beating fierce competition from the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.

"The secret is hard work, there is no other secret," the choir's conductor Wiseman Ella told News24 on Monday.

"A good voice can only get you so far, everything else is sacrifice. Hard work and sacrifice - that's what makes success."

Ella, 45, has been the choir's conductor since 1999, and this is the choir's fifth win under his leadership.

"The choir is my life, but you know what, I can't take the glory alone: If it wasn't for the members we won't be here today."

The 70-member choir has been practicing nonstop since March to clinch the title, juggling full-time jobs and family obligations "for the love of music".

'Songs make things better'

The choir practiced every Wednesday from 10:00 until 16:00 in a hall in the Johannesburg Central police station.

Ella, an administrative officer at the Moroka police station, said choir members travelled from as far as Hammanskraal, East Rand and Benoni to attend choir practices.

"Sometimes the other police officers would come sit and just watch us practice; I think our voices manage to lift the spirit of the police station - songs make things better," Ella said.

Once a month, the choir would practice over a weekend.

Ella said the choir would arrive the Friday afternoon and practice straight through until past 00:00 on the Sunday morning.

"We'd only sleep three, four hours in between - imagine that," he said.

Choir member Khomotso Mogwe, 44, from the Randfontein police station, said after winning, the sacrifices are worth it.

"Now that we've won we are happy to make the sacrifices. But at the time, imagine leaving your family, leaving your partner and going to sleep in a single bed at a choir camp, it wasn't nice."

On Saturday, Mogwe's partner and three daughters sat in the front row to watch her perform.

"I was so proud performing in front of my children," Mogwe said.

"When you sing in a choir it's not like singing alone, where more powerful or less powerful voices make a difference: In a choir, all the voices blend together in perfect harmony."

'Hard daily lives'

At the opening of the competition in the Heartfelt Arena in Pretoria on Friday, Police Minister Fikile Mbalula stressed that the lives of police officers are not easy.

READ: Police music festival provides 'harmony' for hardworking officers - Mbalula

"At the end of it all, police are still human. We feel, we hurt, we stress, we worry, and we get anxious, and feel alone too. Our superhuman lives do not remove our human vulnerabilities," Mbalula said.

He said the competition's organisers, the Police Music and Culture Association (Polmusca), is therefore very important.  

"[It] brings the balancing element into our hard daily lives."

Ella said that while he looks forward to a "brief rest", he's already planning and preparing for 2018 competition.

"A lot more work lies ahead. The pressure is now on to defend our title at the next festival in the Northern Cape next year. We won't stop winning now," he said.

Read more on:    fikile mbalula  |  pretoria  |  police

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