Top choirs announced

2015-12-16 06:00
WINNERS: The SA Singers stet perform at the Old Mutual Choir Festival in Bloemfontein this past weekend.  Photo: Supplied

WINNERS: The SA Singers stet perform at the Old Mutual Choir Festival in Bloemfontein this past weekend. Photo: Supplied

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TO the thunderous applause of 4 000 choral music enthusiasts, KwaZulu-Natal’s SA Singers clinched the coveted title of the best choir at the 38th edition of the Old Mutual National Choir Festival.

The event was held at the University of the Free State’s (UFS) Vista Arena in Bloemfontein this past weekend. More than 22 of Southern Africa’s top choirs competed for top honours in the festival.

As the deserving winner of the large category, the SA Singers received R100 000 and the winner’s trophy. The Western Cape’s Simon Estes Alumni was crowned the national champion in the standard category, collecting the trophy and winning prize money of R74 000.

“Old Mutual has proudly supported this beautiful cultural event for the past 28 years and it’s been thrilling to watch it grow into the spectacular showcase of choral art that it is today,” said Karen Thomas, head of brand at Old Mutual.

“Choral music has a huge following in Southern Africa and we are excited to be a part of something that is so inspiring and touches so many people’s lives in such a positive way.”

“We are over the moon, completely overwhelmed. We never expected it, because we were competing against the best choirs in the field,” Vumile Nomanyena, conductor of the SA Singers, said.

Nomanyena credited their success to hard work, commitment and determination.

For the first time in the competition’s history, the digital radio platform Old Mutual Live broadcast live from the event. Choral music lovers tuned into the station and followed their favourite choir online.

“Old Mutual Live has been a hit at the endurance sports events we support, so we’re very happy that we could introduce it to the choral music fraternity too.”

Pretty Yende, one of the world’s most renowned opera singers and a former performer on the National Choir Festival stage, placed a post on Facebook and praised the opportunity to listen to the competition from Geneva, Switzerland.

Other choral music enthusiasts tuned in from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Botswana, Kenya, Germany, Sweden, China, the United States and the United Kingdom.

During the course of the year, more than 300 choirs from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and Swaziland took part in this competition. It started with the district elimination in March, followed by the regional championships, and culminated in the national finals, which produced two overall winners, one in the standard category and the other in the large category.

The Kopano Chorus and the Gauteng Choristers from Gauteng came second and third in the large category, winning R90 000 and R80 000 respectively. Second in the standard category and winning R64 000 was the Prince Mshiyeni Choir from KwaZulu-Natal, with the Chitungwiza Harmony Singers from Zimbabwe placed third and taking home R54 000.

Additional entertainment was provided by choreographer Somizi Mhlongo and guest performances given by the Johannesburg Music Initiative Orchestra.

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