choir wins in george

BY Loren Campbell

The Riebeek College Choir secured a category win at the Cantamus National Choir Festival that took place in George, Western Cape during the long weekend of 6 to 9 August 2016.
We kicked off our trip early on Saturday, 6 August, arriving at the hostel at 6:30 A.M. Though we were still a bit groggy, the excitement for the trip was eminent.
We boarded the bus and departed from the hostel at 7:00 A.M. The choir girls, especially the new members, were experiencing nervousness and optimism in equal quantities. However, it did not take long before the bus was filled with music, which helped to supress any nerves, uncertainty or even homesickness any of us may have had and created a positive atmosphere that persisted throughout the trip. Tarryn Barry (Gr. 8), a newcomer to the choir describes the bus ride: “So far it has been exciting. Some of us want to stay on the bus forever and the rest can’t wait to reach our destination. It is my first choir tour, so at the moment I am excited and nervous. The people on the bus are loads of fun. There is never a dull moment with these girls. Let the tour begin!”
We took a stop on our bus ride at the Storms River Mouth, where we were surrounded by stunning natural beauty. Some of the girls were forced to face their fear of heights when we walked across the swing bridge. The gentle sway of the bridge made us feel slightly uneasy but it did not take away from our appreciation of the breath-taking view. We made an arduous uphill journey across a gruelling flight of steps to get back to the bus, taking in as much of the fresh air as we could as we tried to catch our breaths. Our muscles were definitely going to hurt the following morning, but it would be worth it.
After almost seven hours on the road, we arrived at the Wilderness Hotel to unpack and unwind for a little while. Lilitha Mali (Gr. 11) described the hotel as “absolutely mind-blowing”. After arriving, we had some time to get ready for an unadjudicated performance at the Civic Centre. Each of the participating choirs had the opportunity to perform one song in front of the other choirs. It was apparent that we had some tough competition, but our spirits were not broken. When it was our turn, we confidently walked on stage and performed the musical rendition of the prayer, Phind’ ukhulume. Our performance received a standing ovation.
It had been a long and tiring day for the girls. It was already quite late when we returned to the hotel for supper, after which we immediately got ready for bed. We needed all the sleep we could get because the competition would start the following day.
The next morning, after breakfast, we left for a sound check and warm-up at the Civic Centre. On our way out, we caught a glimpse of the trophies that would be awarded that evening. We became even more determined to get back home with as many of them as we could. We returned to the hotel for lunch and a brief “chill session” before we got ready for our big performance.
We were apprehensive about our performance, but Miss Mintoor, our conductor, reassured us that we are capable of winning. During our performance, we tried to remember all the technical aspects of the music we had worked on in rehearsals, but it was the soulfulness of our sound that made our choir stand out amongst the others and the adjudicators of the competition seemed to agree. As we sang, we fully allowed the spirit of the music to take over, making it one of the best performances we have ever delivered. Miss Mintoor expressed her immense pride in the choir following our performance, saying that we “sang like angels”. After hearing those words, the choir already felt like winners and would continue to feel that way, whether we earned a trophy or not.
Prize-giving followed a long and anxious wait. This is when it was announced that the Riebeek College Choir had won 1st Place in the Girls’ Choir Category. We were elated and could not contain our joy, springing up from our seats cheering. We chose our traditional piece as our victory song which we performed for the other choirs. The celebration continued after the prize-giving had ended as well as on the bus back to the hotel.
After breakfast the next morning, we went on a little shopping trip to the Garden Route Mall before heading off to a social event for all the choirs who participated in the competition. However, our party was cut short as we had to attend a workshop. The workshop was fun, interactive and informative. Choral singing is technically demanding and even the most experienced choir members had a thing or two to learn. We learned how to make better use of our instruments (our voices) to produce a better sound on stage. We also received some feedback on our performance from the adjudicators. We are always willing to receive some constructive criticism because there is always room for improvement, whether you win or you do not. We hope to use the skills acquired at the workshop for our next performance.
After the workshop, we stopped at the beach and enjoyed some ice-cream (and did not have to worry about it ruining our voices). We soaked us the sunshine and sea air before heading back to the hotel for supper and our last night in George.
Everyone was packed and ready to leave at 8:00 A.M. on Tuesday morning. A little part of us did not want to leave the beautiful city, but we were mostly excited to return home as winners. We will fondly remember our experiences in George and be always-grateful for the people who made them possible. Ambesa Daniels (Gr. 11), Head of Choir, said the following about the tour: “The tour was absolutely amazing and had many first time experiences for many of the girls. I think I speak for all of us when I say that we are deeply thankful, not only for our God-given talent, but also for amazing teachers who were willing to put in their time and effort to make this tour a success.”
The choir would like to give thanks to Miss Mintoor, Mrs Woods, Mrs Snyman, Mrs Mapoma and Mr Jonas for their contributions to our trip. We would also like to thank our bus driver for our safe transportation, the friendly staff of the Wilderness Hotel and the organisers of the Cantamus Choir Festival.

 August 11, 2016
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Loren Campbell

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