Gaborone Youth Singers (GYS), a choral music choir led by TshepisoMarumo, is set to take on some of the best choirs from the region at the Old Mutual National Choir Festival (NCF) later this year. This follows their victory at the 2017 regional eliminations instalment of NCF, against 13 other formidable South African and Botswana choirs.
GYS will represent North West/Botswana region at the finals in Johannesburg, this December.
Under the leadership of Marumo, the choir has managed to achieve what has been an elusive feat in the local choral music fraternity, becoming the first ever choir from Botswana to win (in 2016) the championship of the regional eliminations of the prestigious NCF. As a result of their two consecutive championships the 63 member GYS will become the first Botswana choir to compete in the large section of NCF come 2018.
“Although we did not do well at the finals last year, we remained resolute in demonstrating that limited resources and infrastructure for development of choral music in our country should not be a deterrent to achievement of one’s goals,” says conductor, Marumo.
He says choral music is one of performance art forms that are struggling to make impact in the society as the genre traditionally attracts limited attention nationally. “Reasons for this state may be unknown at this particular juncture, however in any situation where hope may be questionable, a hero always emerges to restore such hope,” Marumo says, adding “Gaborone Youth Singers is one such choir that has in the past two years broken the perceived ceiling of choral music in Botswana.”
GYS, whose ages range from 18 to 35, is a choral music group specializing in written African choral music, marabi, classical music as well as opera music. Marumo says the choir’s existence is premised on diverting the attention of youth from unproductive activities and empowering them by instilling various skills, even beyond music, in its members.“The choir boasts of numerous national championships from locally organized choral music competitions and has as such been recognized for their excellence in their craft by being afforded the opportunity to play a musical ambassadorial role in countries such as Swaziland, Congo Brazzaville and South Africa,” he tells Lifestyle.
He says the NCF has so far attracted choirs from South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland, Lesotho and Zimbabwe. “To reach the final stage, over 100 choirs battle it out at various regions for only 20 choirs to be selected to compete at the final stage to crown the ultimate champion.” He says theGYS will be competing in the standard category (58 singers on stage) for the last time, against 9 other winners from various regions of the competition, while 10 other choirs will be competing in the large section (70 singers on stage).