KZN voices win all in Spain

The KZN Youth Choir performing in Toledo, Spain under the baton of Gérard'd du Toit, fondly known as "Meneer".

Five of Ballito’s songbirds recently went on an inspiring trip with the KZN Youth Choir to compete in the Golden Voices of Barcelona Competition and Festival, Spain and came back as multiple-winners.

The conductor, Gérard’d du Toit and his choristers competed in four categories: Academic Singing; Sacred; Gospel and Folklore and won a first prize and trophy in each category.

There was no chamber choir category, so the choir was entered twice in the Sacred category – as the full choir and a chamber group consisting of twenty four choristers. They won both first and second place in the Sacred category.

Of the 71 choir members, Devon Baird, Monika Lucht, Courtney Sardinah, Hilton Henstock and Joshua Bartholomew are from the North Coast and said the Spain tour was a magical experience.

Baird, whose favourite composer is Sergei Rachmaninov, said he loved being in Spain and hopes to go back someday.

The KZN Youth Choir are proud to show off their first prize awards which they won in every category they entered, making them the best of the 31 international choirs who took part in the competition.

“The highlight of my Spain tour was walking to the cathedral in Toledo while singing part of our ethnic repertoire,” said Baird, who goes to Ashton International College and has been in the choir for two years and is a second bass.

Fellow second bass, Hilton Henstock was fascinated by the incredible architecture.

“Performing in the La Segrada Familia was an absolute highlight – the Spanish are master builders and the acoustics in this particular church really complemented our voices.

“Spain is an amazing country, diverse in history and architecture. I must admit, Spain felt claustrophobic compared to SA, but amazing none the less,” said Henstock, who matriculated at Ashton last year.

First bass, Joshua Bartholomew is currently at school at Clifton and said he adored Spain, but was surprised to see how dry some cities were.

Sardinah, who matriculated at Ashton last year and is now a student at Vega, has been in the choir for three years and said her favourite part was the vibe in Spain.

“Walking through Spain in the late afternoons on cobble roads while musicians play on every street corner would have to be one of my favourite things,” said Sardinah, who is a second alto and loves pieces written by George Gershwin.

Besides their Spanish victory, the choir has another big reason to celebrate as this year marks their 50th anniversary.

Founded in 1967, the KZN Youth Choir is the oldest youth choir in South Africa and for the past 50 years, hundreds of applicants from around the country, ranging in age from 15 to 25, have gone to the annual auditions in August and September with the hope to be in the prestigious choir.

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Elana Geist

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