For the past 40 years, thousands of gifted choristers have gathered in venues across the country to compete for a place in the Old Mutual National Choir Festival Regional Competition.The Artscape Theatre was a hive of activity on Sunday as hopeful choirs lined up to perform an array of classical musical pieces. “The purpose of this annual event is to encourage and promote choral music excellence, while providing memorable musical moments for participants and audiences alike,” said Old Mutual Sponsorship Manager, Bandile Mngoma.A total of 14 choirs competed for a place in the national finals in December. Ten choirs competed in the standard category and four choirs vied for top honours in the large category.Western Chorale gave sterling performances in the Western and African section of the standard category of the competition and were crowned overall winners of the category. Western Chorale conductor Mhlalisi Mungeka , said that he was “very impressed with the choir’s performance, but we just need to polish up our act for the national competition”. In the large category, where finalists are determined through a league point system, Western Chorale currently sits in the top ten of the table with a total score of 176,67.Mngoma added that the songs selected were varied and challenging, because they need to showcase the phenomenal choral music talent that the country has to offer. “An important function of the competition is also to provide the competing choristers with an opportunity to develop and expand their choral abilities.”During its 40 years, the festival has built up a large and enthusiastic following of choral music lovers, across the regions.