Saturday, October 6, 2007

The Sowetan Nation Building Massed Choir Festival

Aggrey Klaaste, Late Founder of the Sowetan Nation Building Massed Choir Festival


by Mokale Koapeng (Choirs from outside South Africa are invited to be part of the celebration.)

The first Massed Choir Festival was held in Johannesburg in 1989. It was a period when South Africa was engulfed in escalating political violence.

The late Aggrey Klaaste, the then editor of the ‘Sowetan’ newspaper, looked for ways to alleviate the situation and foster reconciliation. Community singing was seen as a rallying point for reconciliation. Since then, The Nation Building Massed Choir Festival became a beacon of hope and a symbol for social reconstruction.

The festival has since served as a springboard for young singers. Singers like Sibongile Khumalo, Sibongile Mngoma, Raphael Vilakazi, Given Mabena and Agos Moahi of the famous AfroTenors have been part of the festival.

The massed choir is made up of 1000 voices and an eighty piece orchestra. Every year 4 soloists are auditioned and given the opportunity to display their talent in front of more than 3500 people and to be watched by millions on national television.

When the festival started, Mzilikazi Khumalo and Richard Cock were music directors. On their retirement, Mokale Koapeng and Lududmo Magangane took over as music directors.

The music performed at the festival includes compositions by major South African composers. Choral compositions by Mzilikazi Khumalo, Phelelani Mnomiya, Michael Moerane, Joseph Mohapeloa and many more have been sung in the festival. Arrangements of traditional music and extracts from major choral works by Western composers are also included in the programme.

The management committee of the festival plans to make the 20th edition of this august festival a memorable one. Choirs from outside South Africa are invited to be part of the celebration.

[Editor's Note: Mzilikazi Khumalo and Michael Moerane are profiled at]

Sowetan+Festival" rel="tag">Sowetan Festival
Nation+Building" rel="tag">Nation Building
South+Africa" rel="tag">South Africa
Aggrey+Klaaste" rel="tag">Aggrey Klaaste
Mokale+Koapeng" rel="tag">Mokale Koapeng
African+Composers" rel="tag">African Composers

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