A two-day choral extravaganza, featuring South Africa’s First Lady of song, brought joy in the Monument’s Guy Butler Theatre this week. The fifth edition of the Masicule – Let’s Sing! concert in Grahamstown, featured guest artist, Dr Sibongile Khumalo.
Khumalo is the most celebrated member of a musical dynasty marked by an extraordinary vocal gene-pool and passion for making music. In 1993, Khumalo won the Standard Bank Young Artist Award at the National Arts Festival. In 2009, she was honoured by Rhodes University, by being awarded a Doctor of Music honoris causa.
Masicule 2018 brought together nearly 1000 choristers from over 15 choirs on to one stage and the programme was directed by a local comedian Tsepiso Nzayo. The event opened with the Massed choral item Yele, yele, Masicule conducted by Loyiso ‘Bhoki’ Saki. It is a song that makes one feel the presence of heaven on earth.
Gospel choral items followed, from a combined choir of Mary Waters, Kingswood College, Graeme College and the newly formed Grahamstown KWANTU Choir, singing Sihamba noJesu conducted by Kutlwano Kepadisa. Elijah Madiba’s bass guitar accompanying Pristine, singing The Soil’s Ngeke siguze was phenomenal. Nombulelo Secondary School and Eastcape Midlands College Choir set the theatre ablaze with an IsiXhosa Opera piece titled Amabutho by Bongani Magatyana, accompanied by Tamsyn Handsloo on piano.
Ntsiki Sishuba and the Masicule Voices gave the lively audience goosebumps with Ave Maria by Franz Schubert, conducted by Dr Hleze Kunju. Other items included Leopard’s Voice singing Our love don’t have to change by John Stephens and Dave Tozer, Grahamstown KWANTU Choir with Wildsbok by Renette Bouwer, #Official with Baninzi by The Soil, bass soloist Luvo Booi singing Ngabe kwenzenjani by Qinisela Sibisi and the Sensation 6 with Lizalis idinga lakho by Reverend Tiyo Soga. Khumalo appeared with the Masicule Voices singing Paradise Road by Patric van Blerk and Fransua Roos. The extraordinary Victoria Girls’ High School Choir conducted by Sibusiso Mkhize raised the roof with Tribute and a spinetingling version of Savuka’s Asimbonanga.
Dr Sibongile Khumalo closed performances with the Grahamstown massed choir, singing a piece by her and Motsumi Makhene, titled Sabela’ and U ae kae by Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa.
Just before we thought we were done for the night on Sunday, surprisingly, youngsters Xolisa Foley and Junaid Douglas duoed with the Grahamstown Massed Choir with Happy by Pharrell Williams.
To tilt my cap for the concert, the lighting was superb and we can never shy away from the arrangement by Gareth Walwyn. The band was from out of this world. The event was perfectly organised by the production team, and as for the rants, you will find them from Festival CEO Tony Lankester’s Facebook profile.