Expired passports – and getting stuck in hotel lifts shortly before their performance – did nothing to dampen the intrepid spirit of the Kearsney College choir, which still managed to bring home the gold.
The group returned home victorious on Sunday after a successful trip to the 10th Orientale Concentus International Choral Festival in Singapore, the school said.
“Under the direction of Marshell Lombard, the choir competed in two categories, winning gold for both.
“They won the Folklore category, achieving a score of 92.2, with no other choir having earned a Grade 1 Gold in any category at this year’s competition.”
The choir scooped second in the Equal Voices – Youth category with a score of 81.3.
“We’re extremely proud of the choir’s achievements in Singapore. The boys’ colourful exuberance, energy and vigour, matched with top notch musical performances, highlights all that can be achieved if differences are put aside and a common goal is sought,” said Kearsney headmaster Elwyn van den Aardweg.
The Kearsney choir, said the school, was the world’s second most highly decorated choir.
“Before their departure for Singapore, the choir had been awarded 13 gold and six silver medals at the World Choir Games between 2000 and 2014; the Prize of the City of Vienna at the 33rd International Youth and Music Festival; and was invited to represent Africa at the Rhythms of One World Music Festival at the UN European Headquarters in Geneva.
The boys arrived in Durban on Sunday, where they received a warm welcome from their families, friends and supporters.
Emily Stockhil-Smith, a drama and English teacher at the school who had travelled with the choir, told The Mercury that the boys were “soldiers”.
“They were such great ambassadors for the country and school. I could not be prouder of them and their incredible achievement.”
Stuart Campbell, one of the choristers, said he was “completely ecstatic” with their results.
“It was a wonderful experience and we learnt a lot from the other choirs there.”
Two of the boys had to get temporary passports because theirs had expired, which led to them arriving at the competition later than expected.
Shortly before they were set to perform, 11 of the boys found themselves stuck in a hotel lift.
“But it all worked out in the end. True champions are tested in the moment and we were ready regardless of what was happening.”
Head of choir Wandile Linda said he was “euphoric” after their warm reception overseas.
“Despite the challenges, I think we truly felt how important it was for us to perform. We came together in the end.”