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Serumula defends SA choral title

by Sunday Express
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Mohalenyane Phakela

THE choral group of the Serumula Performing Arts Academy (SPAA) has added another accolade to their bulging trophy cabinet by defending their Gauteng Choral Music Association (GACMA) title in Alberton, Pretoria.

SPAA took the number one spot in the Gold category of the competition for the second time last Sunday with 167 points ahead of South African choir Sound of the Nation with 159 points.

GACMA is one of the biggest choral competitions in South Africa which is held on an annual basis. Since its inception, the competition has been rarely won by choirs outside of South Africa’s Gauteng province. SPAA also made history by becoming the first choir from Lesotho to win the prestigious competition twice.

According to SPAA conductor and composer, Lehlomela Tente, the group triumphed in both the African and Western piece contests to clinch the overall winner’s prize.

“We were supposed to compete with two choirs in the Gold category, but Gauteng Metro Police Choir pulled out at the last minute leaving us contending only with Sound of the Nation in the Western and African songs,” he told Xpress People this past week.

Tente said the 69-member ensemble did not allow themselves to be complacent even though they had beaten Sound of the Nation in last year’s competition.

“We did not allow the fact that we were competing with a choir we beat last year get the better of us, because Serumula never takes any challenge lightly,” he said.

“After all, we did not know how the group had been faring in the last 12 months. So we prepare for any competition with equal rigour and tenacity. Our focus is never on who we will be up against but on ensuring we give our best.”

Tente said they did not enter the competition for financial gain, but to gauge their capabilities.

“GACMA does not offer any monetary prizes and we are cool with that. We entered the contest to assess our strengths and weaknesses with a view to improve ourselves,” he said.

“The competition afforded us the opportunity to be assessed by top adjudicators and that is important for us as we look to compete in other competitions.”

Since its formation nine years ago, SPAA has represented the country in South Africa a number of times and won the National Choir Festival, African Melody Festival and Mangaung Choral Music Association competition among others. Locally, the choir is also the current African Melody Festival champions.

Members of the group come from different districts and church choirs. It has 110 members, but only 69 are active. Despite their already sterling track record, Tente said SPAA would not rest on their laurels, but work even harder to become a world class choir.

“Competitions are not won by history. We are a group of determined and committed people who are passionate about music. Teamwork and putting God before everything are the traits that maintain Serumula’s momentum.”

He said the group practices every day after working hours as most of the members have work commitments during the day.

“I also hold one-on-one training sessions from 2pm till 5pm during weekdays for anyone interested in choral music,” said Tente.

“But that is only by appointment as I dedicate around two hours to an individual.”

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