Three months back, almost to the day, 12 choirs were set for an unknown journey, as Varsity Sing leapt onto TV sets nationwide. Ten thousand hours, countless rehearsals, even an international choir competition couldn’t have prepared them for what lay ahead; or viewers for that matter. Thirteen weeks later, on the 13th of October, and there is little more certainty than on day one.
In a Twitter poll run by Varsity Sports, of 200 votes, NMMU were the favourites to win the competition with 36% of the vote, followed closely by UJ in second on 33%. But Maties are the reigning World Choir Games champions. And Tuks stunned not only audiences, but the Varsity Sing judges too. And they know their stuff!
The addition of the FNB Fan Favourite award will please both choirs and fans. Although there can only be one winner of the Varsity Sing competition, the FNB Fan Favourite, which will be decided entirely by fan votes, provides the opportunity for a second choir to walk away triumphant. Whether the judges and fans are hearing the same tune will be evident now. Either way, both winners will be rewarded amply, as FNB award the FNB Fan Favourite winner R50 000.
Thursday night’s final will be the crescendo of a melody so sweet that it has captured the attention of the whole county. Last week, national radio station, 5FM, challenged all four finalists to compose medleys, using popular artist – Drake’s – Hotline Bling, along with two local songs. The result should come as no surprise: DJs Rob Forbes and Fikile ‘Fix’ Moeti, along with their listeners, were mightily impressed.
In the midst of difficult times on university campuses, choirs such as NMMU, have brought promoted unity, capturing the true spirit of South Africa’s youth, echoing the words of the late Nelson Mandela with unique compositions on racism and xenophobia. These choirs are communicating to audiences in a way not many others are, in a powerfully audible and visual manner.
There has been healthy rivalry coupled with respect between the choirs that have been a part of this year’s pioneering season. Varsity Sing set out to be a choir competition that lay a foundation for the talented student choirs across South Africa to be heard. But how the choirs would seize that opportunity would exceed the expectations of every organiser, broadcaster and critic to witness even a single episode.
The music we’ve heard has been beyond beautiful. Like a precious stone with many facets, every performance can be appreciated from endless angles. Whether it’s the words sung or the technical excellence; the sleek execution or the sheer emotion of the performers. Whether it’s the powerful solos, the evident preparation put in, or the yearning for a unified nation – Varsity Sing has had it all.
Friday will be spectacular. Regardless of the performances. No matter the winner. South Africans are hungry for unity and our choirs are eager to feed them. These final 90 minutes will be about a lot more than just four choir performances. These four choirs are ready to inspire a nation, South Africa need only listen.
The live Varsity Sing final will air on kykNET (DSTV channel 144) at 20:00 on Thursday 13 October.