(Published - 11 July 2018)
The UWC Creative Arts Choir took their winning spree to the international stage when they came out on top at the World Choir Games that are currently underway in the City of Tshwane.
Conducted by the award-winning Sibusiso Njeza, the choir competed in Category 9 - called Mixed Choirs - on 5 July (the results were announced on 7 July) and accumulated the most points to take home the gold medal and win the overall category. The competition started on 4 July and will end on 14 July.
Described as the world’s largest international choir competition, it is the first time that the event is hosted on African soil. It brought together amateur choirs from all corners of the world to compete in different categories. The concept of the biannual World Choir Games, according to their website, is based on the personal experiences of choir singers who acknowledge and pass on human ideals through song, and who contribute to people overcoming conflict through their social interaction, given that music is the common language of the world and serves as a link between cultures and nations.
The choir has won a number of competitions in South Africa in the past, including the South African Tertiary Institutions Choral Association Eisteddfod, the National Choir Festival, and the Western Cape Choral Music Association's Choral Music Esteddfod. They were also the semi-finalists in the Varsity Sing competition, a reality TV series for university choirs. However, this was the first international stage for the UWC choir, and they went all the way to win it.
“As a university, we are very proud of our UWC Creative Arts Choir which always emerges victorious at every national or international event, and continues to fly the UWC flag high,” commented Professor Pamela Dube, UWC’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Development and Support. “We congratulate them on this remarkable achievement and thank them, as well as the whole team behind their triumph, for all the hard work!”
Njeza, who has won a number of individual awards, believes that the victory has taught choir members that working together, with each person contributing in their small way, they can achieve anything they set their minds to. “Without each one’s individual efforts and contribution we could not have been named World Champions in that category”.
As it relates to the university, Njeza said the victory means that UWC is no small university among the greats. “UWC as an institution has so much talent and potential to compete internationally and win. Victories like these remind us to keep our heads high when competing against people we regard as greater than us”.
The choir will intensify its presence on campus to garner more support and instil a sense of pride and camaraderie. They also intend to continue the journey of national and international touring as part of their effort towards increasing student experience and opportunities, with the added advantage of promoting UWC.