The new champions of the Old Mutual National Choir Festival (NCF) were crowned this past weekend at the Ellis Park Indoor Arena.
In its 39th edition this year, the biggest choral music extravaganza in the SADC region attracted more than more than 1000 voices and 200 choirs from five countries.
Trumping all others at the finals were Sounds of the Nation in the large category and Simon Estes Alumni in the standard category.
Choirs from South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Botswana and Swaziland kicked off the competition with the district elimination rounds in March.
These were followed by the regional championships and then the whole thing was wrapped up with the national finals over two days this past weekend.
About 5000 choral music enthusiasts filled the Ellis Park Indoor Arena and got mesmerised by 20 finalist choirs delivering powerful renditions of African as well as Western compositions.
Defending champions SA Singers gave a sterling performance of bulang dikgoro in the African piece section and rex tremendae in the western piece section.
Representing the province of Gauteng this year was African Sweet Melodies, Sound of the nation, Kopano Chorus and Voices of the Nation.
The bar was raised in this year’s competition not only with the performances but with the prizes as well. The first prize in the large category this year was R100 000. The second and third runner ups walked away R90 000 and R80 000 respectively.
Mohau Mogale, conductor of the Sounds of the Nation said, “Winning the competition is a result of hard work, commitment and determination from everyone.
“Each member of the choir has given their absolute best. Our passion for choral music took us all the way through the elimination process to the finals to being crowned winners.”
Internationally acclaimed opera sensation Pretty Yende graced the finale with her presence and delivered an amazing performance for the crowd.
Popular choreographer and socialite choreographer Somizi Mhlongo had the crowd in stitches with her jokes and dance moves as programme director on day two.
Karen Thomas, Old Mutual head of brand, said Old Mutual is very proud of its long-term commitment to this showcase of exceptional talent.
“Choral music has a huge following in Southern Africa and during the 29 years that we’ve been supporting this competition we’ve been able to help it grow into the biggest and best of the choir festivals.
“What’s great is that the festival doesn’t just promote Southern Africa’s choral tradition, it also helps to build communities, because music is a great unifying force.”
Next year the festival will be celebrating four decades of bringing choral music lovers from across the SADC region together. “We look forward to celebrating 40 years of this beautiful cultural event,” said Thomas.
— Wendy McElroy (@wendyamcelroy) December 11, 2016
— Mzwandile Khathi (@MzwaJourno) December 11, 2016
— De Mhlongo (@SihleDe) December 11, 2016
— Old Mutual SA (@OldMutualSA) December 10, 2016