Massed Choir Festival celebrates rich cultural heritage

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Preservation and celebration of our cultural heritage are key motivations for the yearly Massed Choir Festival, which is one of the major attractions of National Heritage Month.

Choral music is a rare form of conceptualisation, expression and performance, which is the preserve of highly talented individuals and groups for whom respect, prestige and honour is minimal or non-existent, but unfairly so.

The festival - sponsored and organised by Sowetan, the SABC and the Telkom Foundation - is a deserving home for composers, arrangers, conductors and choristers, who reciprocate by producing their best at the yearly showcases.

Launched 18 years ago, at a time of heightened political intolerance, racial division and economic instability, the festival is one of the youth and community development projects of the Aggrey Klaaste Nation Building Foundation.

The festival seeks to unite South Africans of all races and to thus serve as a symbol of brotherhood and goodwill.

This year the festival, which will feature 20 choirs, a 1000-voice chorus and guest performers Afro-pop star Ringo Madlingozi and the Bafokeng Chorale, is taking place at the Standard Bank Arena in Johannesburg on September 16.

Over the years, guest artists have included the Bala Brothers, Loyiso and Zwai, Tsepo "The Village Pope" Tshola, Vicky Sampson, the Sibonile School for Visually Impaired Pupils, and the St Vincent School for Speech and Hearing Impaired Pupils.

The young soloists to be showcased this year are mezzo-sporano Teresa de Wit, bass Paul Madibeng, soprano Xoliswa Nogwam and tenor Donald Majosi.

Instrumental backing will be provided by the Nation Building Orchestra.

The guest performers at last year's festival, which honoured composer Theriso Tsambo, were hip-hop star Tumelo Kepadisa, affectionately known as Tuks Senganga, and the Botswana Choral Society.

It was apt to honour Tsambo last year because the festival was also celebrating the 50th anniversary of the epic women's march against the dreaded dompas.

Versatile choral music practitioners Ludumo Magangane, Thabiso Mosabala, Mokale Koapeng, Danny Pooe and Thulasizwe Nkabinde are currently working with the choirs and the soloists to assure that nation builders will not be disappointed come September 16.