African Melody Festival returns with more zest

By Lerato Matheka

MASERU — The African Melody Festival is around the corner.

And it’s likely to be tighter this time round.

What with the return of multiple champions Mohapeloa Singers!

But 2009 winners Maseru City Choral (MCC) are unfazed.

The competition, organised by the Choral Music Federation of Lesotho, is set for December 5 at ‘Manthabiseng Convention Centre.

MCC vice president Seabata Mapuru admitted they were feeling the heat but were ready to conquer again.

“There is a lot of pressure in this year’s competition,” Mapuru told the Weekender this week.

“We are ready for the competition but because all choirs are looking to win the competition we are really feeling the pressure.”

He said they were not particularly worried about the return of Mohapeloa Singers who did not take part in last year’s edition of the festival.

Mohapeloa Singers, he noted, might also not be as strong as they were before the choir split earlier this year.

“This year Mohapeloa are back but that is really not a problem because of the split of the choir,” Mapuru said.

“The conductor who led that choir during its four-year domination of the competition has formed a new choir, JP Choristers, so we are concentrating only on securing the first position.”

However, despite the split, Mohapeloa Singers insist they are back to reclaim the African Melody Festival crown.

The choir’s public relations officer, Tšepo Khoachele, told the Weekender they were more powerful as compared to the era before the split.

“We are back with a storm and we are going to set alight the competition,” he said.

“We are not first timers . . . we are back to defend our title that was unlawfully taken from us last year.”

Khoachele said winning the festival would help them to regain the trust of their fans who were not happy with the split.

“We have been undergoing intensive preparations for the competition,” he said.

“In August we were competing in Welkom where we finished seventh,” he added.

“That was a surprise to us so we are ready and we hope all choirs are as ready.”

Meanwhile, the festival will have four adjudicators from South Africa.

“To ensure transparency, we are going to have four adjudicators from Bloemfontein who have been judges in choral competitions before,” Sam Letima, the Choral Music Federation of Lesotho’s public relations officer, told the Weekender.

“We believe this will help with transparent judging because it would be their first time meeting the choirs and this move was advised by choirs at our annual general meeting a month ago.”

Letima said winners of the festival’s gold category will pocket M6 000, with the silver section’s top choir getting M5 000 and bronze segment victors going home M4 000 richer.

All category winners will also get trophies.

“All the choirs will compete with one English song and choose a Sesotho song of their choice from the provided two,” Letima said.

Last year MCC won the gold section, Lithabaneng LEC the silver category and Mathebe LEC the bronze level. 

This year MCC will have to battle it out against St Paul Cerenates, Mafeteng Choristers, NUL Choir, Loreto LCYM, St Gerald Cerenates, Maria ‘Mabasotho Choir, Highlands Sound Choral Artists, JP Choristers, Serumula Performing Arts Academy, Mohapeloa Singers, Maseru Vocal Waves and Voices of Choral for the festival’s top prize.

The African Melody Festival is sponsored by Standard Lesotho Bank and the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture.

The competition was founded in 2006 with the aim of uplifting the standard of choral music in the country.

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