MASERU — A record 36 choirs will take part at the ninth African Melody Festival at Manthabiseng Convention Centre on December 4, the Weekender heard this week.
Choral Federation of Lesotho public relations officer, Sam Letima, told the Weekender they are expecting more competition this year as new choirs had registered to contest.
“Twelve choirs will battle it out in the gold category, eight in the silver category with 16 choirs taking part in the bronze category,” Letima said.
Last year’s silver category winners, Lithabaneng LEC, will be aiming to go a gear up this year by competing in the gold category.
Bronze winners, Roma Melodies, will challenge for honours in the silver category.
“The competition promises fireworks as choirs that lost last year seek to make amends while JP Choristers will be defending their gold title,” Letima said.
Choral music giants Maseru Vocal Waves will be among the heavyweights in the gold section after they withdrew from the competition last year.
“We are going to see a tough competition because Maseru Vocal Waves have registered to compete after they withdrew without offering reasons last year,” Letima said.
With the prescription songs released in February, Letima added that choirs have been given enough time to prepare.
“The choirs will choose one of the two vernacular songs, Baka Morena Moea oaka by H K Pule and Mandla Umhandazo by C T Nxobe.
“They will also choose one of the two Western prescriptions, Regina Coeli (K108) by W A Mozart and Magnificat (D486) by Franz Schubet,” Letima said.
He added that the festival will have five black adjudicators from South Africa.
The decision to have black adjudicators was reached at the last two annual forums following complaints that white judges did not fully appreciate African languages and tones.
“We chose black people because they understand the tone of African choirs unlike white judges who don’t understand African languages and tones,” Letima said.
“Moreover, African songs which are used as prescriptions are written in staff notation and white judges find it difficult to read such notations.”
“This year choirs are going to be accompanied by a piano, a challenging aspect for most choirs who have never experienced competing or singing with a piano,” he said.
The competition is supported by Standard Lesotho Bank and the Ministry of Tourism, Environment and Culture.
“We have approached other companies and we are hoping this year we will have new local organisations coming on board,” Letima said.