League system upping the Choir Festival game
11 June 2015
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Brad Brown: Welcome back to this edition of Old Mutual Live, I’m Brad Brown and it’s time to chat some more National Choir Festival, the finals just around the corner. We’re joined now on the podcast by Kgosi Monaisa. Kgosi, welcome onto Old Mutual Live, thanks for joining us today, I hope you’re well.
Kgosi Monaisa: Thank you Brad, I’m very well, thanks for inviting me to participate in your programme.
BB: Any time. Kgosi, you are currently part of the National Choir Festival 2015 management committee, you’re the secretary. Tell me a little bit about how you got involved with the Old Mutual National Choir Festival?
KM: Well, it’s about five years that I’ve been part of the project. I was recruited through my strong network to become part of this exciting journey. I play a role as legal counsel and company secretary and I must state upfront that this is not a salaried position.
I offer my services or skills and time for a good cause. So yes, it has been an exciting journey for the past fivre years. 2015 is here and it’s nearing the end and we are getting ready for the finals that are scheduled from the 12th to the 13th of December in Mangaung.
Competition with a deep history
BB: I can’t wait, it’s going to be amazing and we’re going to be broadcasting live from Mangaung for that finale, that weekend, and we’re looking forward to that, but you’ve been involved with the festival for five years now, but it’s a lot older than that. It’s got a rich history, doesn’t it?
KM: Yes, quite so, this year the National Choir Festival is celebrating 38 years in existence and it has been backed up by Old Mutual, so ja, it is one of the oldest competitions in the country.
BB: Kgosi, in the time that you’ve been involved, can you pinpoint one or two highlights from a performance perspective that you’ve seen over the years that really stand out in your mind?
KM: I had the opportunity to travel around the country during the regional eliminations, just to get a sense of what is going out, what is going on at that level. It’s quite exciting to see choirs at regional level going all the way out to send outstanding performances. There were challenges here and there in some instances, we experienced a number of choirs pulling out on the 11th hour, which was quite a disappointment for the project. But then the following year we had to work harder to ensure that everybody who submits us just after June to say, we are getting ready to participate in the regional, they make it to the last moment.
Yes, performances around the country, before we even get to the finals, they have always been exciting and it is quite motivating to see the talent out there. So that’s one of my experiences and I can briefly talk about the finals, my experiences over a period of five years, the audience is one thing that is quite inspirational.
Because you realise that this choral music, it is loved by many South Africans, contrary to popular belief. So yes, the support has been there from all stakeholders, from the regions. Those regions, in most cases, are supported by what we call regional music associations and they have been backing up their choirs, some of them supporting them to the last moment financially and otherwise.
So yes, there are lots of stakeholders that we interact with, there are many people as well, but it is quite an enormous journey because we gain a lot of experience as well and we are able to move forward and share that experience with others.
BB: Kgosi, looking at the Old Mutual Choir Festival, or the National Choir Festival, over the years it’s obviously grown and evolved into what it is today. For the choirs, is this a stepping stone to greater things? Have you seen many of the choirs that have succeeded in the past, at the NFC go on to bigger and better things?
Choir festival has proved to be a stepping stone
KM: Absolutely. You will remember that once a choir is doing well for at least a period of three years, at a standard level, then that choir has the opportunity to graduate to a higher level. That is to participate in the large category. We have a number of choirs that have really done well at standard level and they are now part of the large grouping and they’re doing very well.
So, that’s where the growth is and with those choirs that have been part of the large category, growing from strength to strength, they are doing absolutely amazing things and I must say, that Old Mutual National Choir Festival has reached international standards. We are comfortable that our choirs can compete very well in the international space.
League system has seen a rise in standards
BB: Kgosi what you’ve seen in 2015 over the five years that you’ve been involved, is this year, would you say this is the toughest year yet?
KM: Well, I would say because of, and let me focus on the large category for a moment, because of the league system that we introduced in 2014, those choirs that did not make it in 2014 when the league was launched, they then, you know, did wonder in 2015. Some of them of course, not all of them, so they performed well, they outperformed themselves, they really did a lot of work to make sure that they booked space in the top 10 of those choirs that will be participating at the finals.
Standard choirs are also doing very well. They are not part of the league system, but there were a lot of improvements, even the adjudicators have given remarks in various regions that there were lots of improvements in terms of the technicality.
You know, choirs being able to handle technicalities of their songs fairly well and scoring higher marks. There has been a lot of great performances at regional levels, they’re now going to the finals. I think it’s going to be one of the greatest events. We are looking forward, 22 choirs will be participating, 11 in the large category and another 11 in the standard category. Yes, it is going to be a great event.
BB: I’m definitely looking forward to it. We’ll have all the details and you can find out more on dogreatthings.co.za. Kgosi thank you so much for your time. I think what we’re going to do is get you on, on another episode of Old Mutual Live and talk a little bit about what goes on behind the scenes.
As choral music lovers, we often sit in front of a stage and listen to a choir, but we don’t really fully comprehend what goes on behind the scenes and what goes in to putting on an event like the Old Mutual National Choir Festival, but we’ll save that for another time. Thank you so much for your time today and we look forward to catching up again soon.
KM: Okay, thank you very much Brad, I really appreciate it.