Sunday, 8 July 2018

Saturday 8th July

This last official day of tour would rival Day 1 as the longest day! We were up and having breakfast at 7 am and the boys left in their gumboots for their Scenic Folklore sound check at the State Theatre.  I stayed behind at the hotel to update Facebook with the Scenic Pop videos. Shortly after returning and a short time to rest – we were preparing to leave for the State Theatre once again.  Just before we left Wandile Linda and Thando Skwatsha offered their encouragement to the boys.  We were to perform first in order for us to transfer to the next venue, ZK Matthews Hall at UNISA for the Music of Spirit and Faith Category timeously.  The boys only had a one hour wait this time which was well-used as a warm-up period and received a pre-performance talk from Ross Arde and Hector Mnyayiza – who were both 1st XV rugby players (Hector also played KZN Schools in Brad Barrit’s team) and both jointly led the Choir in 2004.  Their talk emphasised the comradery and brotherhood the choir allows which is worth far more than any achievement.  The boys exploded onto the stage in their colourful costumes.  The energy was palpable, each boy put in 100% and they maintained that level for the entire repertoire.  The solos were sung with more feeling than we have witnessed before and the boys were moved to tears after they left the stage – they knew that this was a special performance.  They received standing ovations in the middle of their performance particularly after their synchronised and vibrant gumboot dance routine. The bubbly mood continued until we reached UNISA where the boys had a few group photographs taken and changed on the bus in readiness for their performance.  We performed last in this category – which was a closely contested competition between all the choirs.  This category well represented the international participation of the World Choir Games. The boys gave a very different performance to the ones we viewed and once again delighted the audience.  The vibrant mood of the boys continued as they left the hall singing Shosholoza.  We ate dinner in the bus, sewed a couple of pairs of split pants (indicative of the energy put into the performance!) and the boys changed into their outfits for the awards ceremony.  The start of the ceremony was delayed due to some category decisions still outstanding due to late starts. Music and song filled the arena which was filled with excited choirs awaiting their results.  The boys fully made use of the time to socialise, with especially the Russian girls’ choir!  The Awards ceremony is always very long with the every choir formally presented with their medals and certificates for each category. And so the wait was filled with adrenaline and anticipation.  The Scenic Pop Category was announced first and the boys were most satisfied with their gold medal (85%) and third place.  Harmonize from Korea was placed second and Bernard Kruger and his Drakensberg Choir were announced as Champions for that category.  The boys (many of whom are Drakies Old Boys) celebrated the win for these young and talented choristers. The Music of Spitrit and Faith was next after another wait – to receive gold (and 4th place) in this category was a bonus!  The most anticipated category of Scenic Folklore was announced last.  The announcement of 78% and a silver medal (third place) was somewhat perplexing to the choir and their supporters - who knew what the presentation had cost them in energy and effort.  This was a low-scoring category with the winners, St Mary’s, gaining a well-deserved champion status of 82.5%.  South Africa was the country that received the most number of choirs with Champion status.  Drakensberg Boys Choir (1 title) Tygerberg Children’s Choir (2 titles) St Mary’s DSG Kloof (1 title) and University of Johannesberg (1 title).  The boys returned to the hotel at midnight emotionally and physically drained after a wonderful 12 day tour wherein they bonded as brothers and made the Kearsney family so proud. The boys added three medals to the Kearsney Choir treasure chest, bringing the choir’s tally to 15 gold medals.

Friday 6th July

The boys were up and eating breakfast (and sipping their “compulsory Berocca”) at 6:45 and ready to board the bus bound for Pro Arte and the practice venue.  I arrived later after picking up more medication, for what became known as the “First Floor Pharmacy” in the hotel each morning and evening.  The diarrhoea and vomiting continued throughout the 12 days as well as sore throats and sinusitis. Grahamstown Pharmacy, Dischem in Glenfair and Clicks at Brooklyn Mall all benefitted from our choir tour! The boys asked for diarrhoea medication like this: “Ma’am, please may I have ‘the cement’”. When we arrived back at the practice venue I was struck by the charged atmosphere.  The boys realised there was no more time to play with and were taking the rehearsal very seriously – they were practicing their Folklore programme.  Literally we were moved to tears, including Hancadri Spies who was responsible for all our travel arrangements.  The boys went back to the hotel for a two hour rest, shower and mental preparation time.  We were ready to leave for the State theatre at 4pm – stopping only to fetch the supper packs from Dros restaurant along the way.  The bus was silent for the entire trip until we reached the theatre – no talking at all.  We were ushered into the waiting room where we met up with Bernard and Junine Kruger and the Drakies boys who like us were waiting to do their sound check.  St Mary’s girls were also backstage and it was lovely to see so many familiar faces in the nervous atmosphere. The sound check of 15 minutes ran smoothly and then the wait started.  The boys were performing 6th and that meant a backstage wait of at least 3 hours.  I videoed a song or two of each of the choirs participating in the Scenic Pop category. Our boys performed at 9:10 and presented a show that contained variety of presentation as well as passion and energy.  Thimna launched himself higher than ever before and well done to the boys who caught him! Our choir really can be described as a ‘crowd pleaser’ as they received a standing ovation from the appreciative audience at the end of their 15 minute programme.  The song “sky full of stars” with the torch presentation was met with gasps and delight as the boys flawlessly executed their routine. “We didn’t start the fire” showed that the Kearsney boys are certainly entertainers.  The boys themselves were not sure about their performance but brightened considerable once they viewed the video footage.  Back at the hotel the boys were medicated and sent off to bed – a very late night.  I valiantly tried to update the photographs to Facebook and the blog but lost the battle to fatigue at 1am!