The Free State leg of the National Choir Festival hit Bloemfontein on 05 August 2017 and saw 14 choirs in total battle it out for the honour of representing the Free State in the national competitions.
Eleven standard choirs and three in the large category took to stage twice to sing the Western prescription and African prescription. The latter saw choirs celebrate the ruby jubilee of the festival.
The festival, founded forty years ago by the late great conductor Prof Khabi Vivian Mngoma, is one of the biggest in the world and the biggest on the African continent. It has seen many a great chorister, composer and conductor grace its stages.
In this year’s sing-off, Qinisela Sibisi’s composition, Inqola Emasondosondo, was favoured by all standard choirs but one, Voices of Serenade, who rather rendered Sibusiso Njeza’s Ingqanga – a moving dedication to Mngoma. All large category choirs took on the former composer’s Yash’ Ingoma.
The choirs hit a few notes that sent ripples of energy through the crowd and breathed through the compositions like a centuries old forest. The audience welcomed every choir with shouts and ululations, and each time a conductor took the traditional bow, they again erupted.
The Sand du Plessis Theatre was turned into a stage as the audience – most of them choristers – used every available opportunity to break into song. Unlike the choirs that were limited to two songs from the prescribed ten, the audience had an endless catalogue open to them, but kept their bias towards the church catalogue loud and clear.
The regional championships were closed off with the singing of the national anthem, led by the Free State Choristers, who were last to perform on the day and proved themselves to be a firm crowd favourite.
According to OLD MUTUAL, who have sponsored the festival for the past thirty years, the 2017 competition is one to look forward to. Says the organisation: “This year’s grand finale is going to be a momentous occasion, when we celebrate 40 years of creative genius through music.”
In this highly anticipated grand finale, Free State will be represented by Thabong Choral in the standard category and Free State Choristers in the large category.
ART STATE wishes both choirs the very best.
PICTURE: DSACR Choir serenades the masses. Credit: Tshwaro Nomvula Lentoa