GOSPEL ACT: Choirmaster and co-founder of Joyous Celebration, Lindelani Mkhize, with the gospel choir.

ON FRIDAY and Saturday, fans of the most successful choir group in the country, Joyous Celebration (JC) can look forward to the MTN Joyous Celebration production at the Durban ICC.

This year, the show introduces the MTN Joyous Conductor Experience competition (open to MTN PayAsYouGo and TopUp clients), where one lucky winner will receive the opportunity to conduct a song of their choice from the MTN Joyous Celebration 18th album, One Purpose, on stage.

Tonight chatted to the co-founder of JC, Lindelani Mkhize, about his role as the choirmaster and the qualities he is looking for in the Joyous Conductor Experience.

“You have to be a communication expert on that stage. You need to know the geography and the movement of the song. Every little bit about the song, what happens in the introduction, what happens when the song gets to the verse, what happens be it the dynamics, the tempo, the feel, the texture… all those little things.

“With the Joyous stage, there are about 40 people on stage and they all can’t remember the same thing at the same time so the choirmaster stands in front and reminds the band and gives everyone a signal. We use hand gestures and sometimes facial expressions. The moment you lose concentration, something might go wrong, because when you lose concentration, it’s easy for the people in front of you to get lost.”

So what separates a good conductor from a bad one?

“A good choirmaster looks at all the characteristics of the song and is able to handle them at the same time. Others only focus on the tempo and don’t look at the dynamics. Others will look at the movement and forget the flow of the song,” says Mkhize.

I ask Mkhize what qualities he is looking for from the contestants.

“I’m looking for someone who understands how you treat a song and how you give those indications or signals to the choir in front of you, but also someone who understands that there is an audience in front of you. You need to make sure that the audience are involved and kept entertained at the same time,” he shares.

The great thing about JC is that the choir is always willing to give back to the community. On Saturday, the choir will do a charity drive to Bambisandla’s Children Home in Umlazi.

Mkhize says: “Everywhere we go, we always know that people love to see our shows, but not everyone has the opportunity so we always look for a way of reaching out and making it possible for them. So we look for different kinds of homes where we can do that. We want to visit them because their living conditions are not that great. They need the necessities people take for granted.”

Steering the chat back to the MTN Joyous Celebration show, he says: “I invite everyone who wants that phenomenal experience. It’s great to listen to the CD and watch the DVDs, but being in the auditorium takes you to another level. The presentation, the performances and the music talk to each and every one of us. This one is very musical, but we present it in a way that is simple to absorb and you will find yourself singing along.”

• MTN Joyous Celebration, Friday and Saturday at the Durban ICC. R180 to R320 at Computicket.