Thursday, 5 July 2018

Thursday 5th July - Tshwane

Day -1

After last night the boys were struck by the enormity of the World Choir Games and arose with a new determination to tackle rehearsals seriously. A bit of free time in the morning allowed the boys to catch up on some sleep, practice gumboot routines and have some family time. We left the hotel at 09:45 and headed for the NG Kerk near the Tukkies campus to meet the other choirs assigned to our Friendship group – A Greek Youth Choir, A girls’ high school choir from Kuils River in the Cape and a choir from Nigeria.  

To start off, one of the judges of the WCG played a warm-up game with the choirs which became quite complex but they all managed admirably!  Then the four choirs joined voices to craft the singing of Hallelujah. Then each choir performed some of their repertoire for the other three choirs and an audience, which consisted mostly of choir parents and supporters.

Then we went on to Pro Arte for an outdoor practice for four hours. The boys headed straight for supper at Spur. Seeing the happy birthday sparklers, the boys decided it was Mrs Govender’s birthday – so the ice-cream arrived with a sparkler and balloon and the accompanying jingle - which the boys had picked up and they added to the swell of noise. It was their way of saying “Thank you” to Mrs Govender for keeping them in line. 

Some boys chose to return to the hotel while others travelled to the WCG Village. They returned straight away as most choirs were resting for competitions tomorrow or performing at concerts. Medication and a compulsory Vitamin C ‘fizzer’ was handed out and the boys were sent to bed after roll call.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Wednesday 4th July

The boys had a wonderfully filling and varied breakfast at the hotel in the morning before receiving their packed lunches and heading off to practice at Pro Arte. The morning and early afternoon was taken up with rehearsals and then it was a quick dash back to the hotel to change and head for the ZK Matthews Hall at UNISA for a sound check. This was a stressful time as we had to arrive 15 minutes before our scheduled sound check time and then have strictly ten minutes on the stage. The boys looked good in their uniforms and were well-disciplined, when literally; the stopwatch started the ten minute countdown.

From Unisa we travelled to Glenfair Butcher Brothers for a delicious meal before heading to the Sun Arena and the opening of the 10th World Choir Games. The arena looked stupendous in its impressive size with row upon row filled with participating choirs. The boys immediately understood the mood and excitement of the Games. Each participating country was welcomed by flag-bearers then a few speeches and then entertainment from Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The arena slowly emptied as the proposed time for the end of the show was passed. Then it was on to City Lodge where instructions were given to the boys for tomorrow and some boys visited the pharmacy again before heading to bed.

Tuesday 3rd July - Day 1 in Tshwane

The boys felt short-changed as we left Grahamstown at 08:40 in the morning as a group of young ladies from KZN South Coast had moved into the Victoria Primary School Hostel on Monday afternoon. Mrs Govender sat sentry duty in the passage wrapped in her blanket. The boys were set to determine her staying power and she outlasted them all!  

An hour and a half journey saw us arrive at the Port Elizabeth Airport. Check-in was an organised and quick affair and we then had an hour in which to have something to eat and then proceed though security. The plane was slightly delayed and was filled mostly with the Kearsney College Choir.

The short flight ended with the boys singing Shosholoza and serenading the passengers as they left the plane. A lady who had returned to South Africa to visit family, was moved to tears to hear the boys sing.

The bus and trailer were packed in relatively short order and after about an hour we arrived at our City Lodge Hotel in Lynnwood, most conveniently situated near to World Choir Games venues and also very comfortable accommodation. Mr Alborough and Mr Lombard went to Tukkies to register and receive our armbands, which give us permission to enter WCG venues, while the choir travelled to Pro Arte Alphen Park, which is our practice venue, where the matric boys ran a successful movement rehearsal.

Mrs G will keep the phones during dinner
We then met up at Huckleberry’s Restaurant in Magnolia Dell where we enjoyed a delicious meal of either fish and chips, or steak and chips or half chicken and chips with salad on request. Mrs Govender conviscated cellphones that were in use when they were instructed to talk to each other and not look at their phones! We then returned to the hotel where the ‘pharmacy’ opened to dose the sick boys- mostly tonsilitis and flu now with the last few with stomach cramps and nausea.  Then bed….

Monday, 2 July 2018

Monday 2nd July - See you in Tshwane

A short movement rehearsal followed breakfast and then the choir was split into two groups – the juniors had lunch (after which we bade Mr Zwane good bye – he was our technical manager for our performances over the week-end) and then went on the watch Aaron McIllroy’s ADHD fringe show.  The Grades 10, 11 and 12 boys were very excited to see saw a production of “The Island” which is a Grade 12 set work for Drama and then went on to enjoy their lunch at Browns.  We all met back at the boarding house in time for an afternoon rehearsal.  Then it was time to start preparing to pack for our departure tomorrow morning and onto the important part of the tour – World Choir Games in Pretoria. The power cut immediately followed the conclusion of ADHD and as a result it is difficult to post photographs – due also to the slow wifi coverage provided by the dongle. I will post photographs to Facebook and the blog when I am able in Pretoria.

Sunday 1st July - last performances in Grahamstown

The day started a little earlier than the previous days in order to get the Hall in time for our sound check and warm-up for the 10a.m. performance. In the audience were a number of young ladies which gave the boys an undeniable “testosterone boost” and resulted in their best performance so far.  We thought of hiring these young ladies to be in the audience at the World Choir Games!  I must say I was very emotional during that performance, knowing how sick many of the boys felt, yet they still went onstage and performed; some had to sing solo pieces.

A small rest of an hour before the boys got dressed to start the last concert at 1pm. Cries of “who has two right boots”, “who has my pants”, and “who has Orion’s Belt” – which caused much laughter!  The boys were obviously tired and their voices scratchy by the end of the show – nevertheless they received their fourth standing ovation from the crowd. 

We enjoyed a tasty home-style cooked lunch at the pop-up restaurant called "The Long Table".  As a result of the jumble caused by costume changes in the wings an inventory was taken of each boy’s bag when they handed items in for laundering for Monday.

Free time and supper followed – then some more free time where the boys were encouraged to attend a show of their choice. Many chose the Hypnotist’s show at Victoria High School which is next door to the Primary school where we are staying. Teachers accompanied the boys to the show – six of our boys decided to try their hand at being hypnotised – three never went ‘under’ and were excused from the stage. Three continued and entertained their friends for an hour and a half with their antics all suggested by the Hypnotist. E.g. You are rowing happily in your boat... then a shark comes along (accompanied by the music of Jaws), You are Michael Jackson, You are a ballerina, fetch a woman from the audience who needs your protection. A good way to relax, and also just laugh. We made the short walk back to the boarding house where the boys fell into bed.

Saturday 30th June - two performances in Grahamstown today

This was a busy day for the Choir with three scheduled performances at 10am and 8pm in the Thomas Pringle Hall and at 4pm on the Village Green on the Victoria Primary School campus.

After an early breakfast the bus picked us up to transport us to the Thomas Pringle Theatre on the third floor of the monument overlooking the area which constitutes Grahamstown. The boys did a warm up and sound check, changed into their Scenic Pop uniforms and then eagerly anticipated the arrival of an /any audience. About 50 plus people attended the first concert where the boys practiced their repertoire for the first time to a new audience, who gave them a standing ovation. Buoyed by the response the boys left the hall for lunch and then later in the afternoon, dressed in their folklore kit, the boys went to perform on the “Village Green” situated on the fields of the school. They attracted a sizeable audience as they performed their folklore repertoire and received an enthusiastic response.  

The young lady who organises the acts for the venue said she thought ‘a choir might be nice’ but she never expected “THIS!  She also said “I am a music teacher, but I think I am failing in my job”. She was in the audience at our 8pm concert and wholeheartedly supported the boys’ efforts on stage. The Grade 10 music boys performed their Greatest Showman piece – From now on - on the “open mike” stage and had people singing and clapping along to their performance. I overheard one man say “They are bloody good!” During the course of the day a few more boys fell ill with diarrhoea and vomiting and as well the usual cold and flu accompanied by a sore throat – not good for a choir when over 20 boys are feeling not up to scratch and some feeling pretty awful. At this point the pharmacists at Grahamstown Pharmacy were recognising me when I went in for more medical supplies following the advice of two doctors.

Supper first, and then on to the Thomas Pringle Hall, for the third performance of the day. The audience was about 100 strong in the evening, including the members of the KZN Youth Orchestra, and the boys did well after a tiring day to produce an exciting show. Audience members gave them their second standing ovation of the day. We made it back to the hostel to medicate boys who had succumbed to the V&D and also a ‘little’ clean-up of the bus and the unfortunate bus driver!