The show behind the show – organising the National Choir Festival
02 December 2015
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Brad Brown: Welcome onto this edition of Old Mutual Live, great things start here, great things start now. We’ve got a returning guest on our podcast today and it’s an absolute pleasure to welcome back Kgosi Monaisa. Kgosi, welcome onto Old Mutual Live, great to catch up once again. Time is getting really close to the National Choir Festival finals happening in Mangaung halfway through December. Your excitement building, I’m sure, everything on track?
Kgosi Monaisa: Everything is on track. The coming weekends we are meeting in Bloemfontein with the conductors of choirs that have qualified for the finals on the standard category as well as on the large category. It is called, what we normally refer to as the Conductors Briefing.
Conductors of those choirs will be practicing with the orchestra and the orchestra that has been lined up for this year’s event is the J&I Orchestra from Johannesburg. Yes, that’s what will be happening this weekend and the management committee as well will be in session to make sure that all logistical arrangements are in place and that we are having a very smooth event in December.
Again, over and above that, a few days before, I think a day or two before the actual event, choirs will assemble in Bloemfontein to practice with the orchestra. Adjudicators will also have their session for the final briefing to make sure that everything is on track. It is quite exciting, we cannot wait for that weekend, but there is a lot of other work that is happening in the background.
BB: Kgosi, you mentioned that management committee that will be meeting at the Conductors Briefing in Mangaung to make sure that everything is on track, let’s talk about some of the logistics that goes into putting something like this together. It’s not just the grand finale, this is a process that’s been going on for months to make sure that everything is in place for the final. When does planning start for next year’s event, if that makes sense. So it’s 2015, Old Mutual National Choir Festival this year, when did the planning start for this event?
When preparations for a competition year being
KM: Things start very early in the year, February, every year, the management committee sits to look at the journey for that particular year. Our meeting in this coming weekend is really to look at 2016 already and also look at our strategic points.
What other strategic points that we need to look into to improve in this prestigious event. So yes, planning has happened a long time ago. I can mention that transportation, accommodation, venue and all other things, those are in place a long time ago and we are quite comfortable. We have signed the contract, we are just waiting for suppliers and service providers to deliver.
BB: You also mentioned in our previous chat that your position on the management committee is not a paid position, you’re a volunteer, you do it for the love of choral music and for this competition. How do you get the balance right between balancing your normal every day work life and running a competition like this?
KM: Well, it is very easy because I’m passionate about what I do. I make time and I often do the National Choir Festival work after hours because that’s the convenient time for me to focus and you know, produce quality work.
So, it works well for me. Most of the work that we do on a critical space, it’s really during the weekend when we travel to attend events, but in most cases it’s paperwork. It’s easy, you do it at home, it could be during the weekend when you’re not busy out there or even after hours, so that it does not clash with my day to day job.
BB: Kgosi, out of all the people that are involved behind the scenes, at the Old Mutual National Choir Festival, are most of them volunteers? I mean how does it work? How many people are actually involved in putting an event like this on?
Who combines to put on the NCF?
KM: There are two groups. One group is from the Old Mutual side, those are experts in various areas. They are involved in the day-to-day work of the project. So they put a lot of effort in terms of ensuring that all logistical arrangements are in place.
The management committee consists of six individuals who are working on the project on a part-time basis and they work closely with the team from Old Mutual, which is working on those projects on a full-time basis. Yes, it’s a very small group doing great things.
BB: It sounds absolutely amazing and I mean you’ve been involved for five years. Do you see yourself being involved for the next five, the next 10, how long will your involvement still stretch Kgosi?
KM: I don’t know. I always look for new opportunities. Five years is a long time to be involved in one project, but if I, you know, if it fits and if the management committee thinks it fits, I may stay on for just a few years. But I don’t believe in working on one project forever.
I need to move on, we need to get new blood into the system and that can help the project grow because then you get new people coming with fresh ideas, which is quite healthy for a project of this nature.
BB: Absolutely, Kgosi, thank you so much for your time here on Old Mutual Live. I look forward to meeting you in Mangaung this weekend at that Conductors Briefing. I’m sure we’ll have another chat then and we look forward to the grand finale in the middle of December in Bloemfontein as well. It should be a fantastic event and congratulations for all the hard work that you’ve put in and we look forward to catching up again soon.
KM: Thank you very much Brad, thanks, enjoy the rest of your day.