Choir master Khaya Mthethwa rehearses with his choir as they prepare for the class of choirs grand finale taking place tomorrow at the Soweto Theatre.
Picture:Paballo Thekiso
Choir master Khaya Mthethwa rehearses with his choir as they prepare for the class of choirs grand finale taking place tomorrow at the Soweto Theatre. Picture:Paballo Thekiso

Tension soars at Clash of Choirs

By Noni Mokati Time of article published Apr 20, 2013

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Johannesburg - It’s on! Fierce tension and excitement has gripped the Clash of the Choirs SA competition. With the finale being aired on DStv’s Mzansi Magic on Sunday evening, the country is a few hours away from knowing who and which province will clinch the coveted title of South Africa’s ultimate choir and walk away with R500 000and R250 000 for its charity of choice.

This week Twitter was abuzz when voting lines opened. They closed on Thursday.

But behind the scenes the three remaining choirs and their masters, Khaya Mthethwa, Zakes Bantwini and Zwai Bala, sweated it out to ensure they deliver their best performances.


This week the Saturday Star spoke to the choir masters during rehearsals.

“I believe I have achieved what I’ve set out to do. For me it’s not about being part of a competition but it’s about doing what I love. I would love to see my choir win but I’m chilled as ever about on Sunday evening. Win or lose, I am thankful for the opportunity to have developed a group of different individuals who have in turn helped me flourish as a musician,” said Bantwini, whose 20-member choir representing Gauteng has been commended for its outstanding performances, stage props and vocal arrangements.

At the rehearsals Bantwini demanded hard work from the sopranos right up to the altos.

The Carolina singer also has a gem in his group – young musician Thapelo Rakgomo, who might be his best asset.


However, giving Bantwini sleepless nights is choir maestro and widely respected musician, producer and director Bala. Previously Bala’s choir gave performances that convinced the panel of judges – gospel singer Rebecca Malope, Radio DJ Anele Mdoda and Joyous Celebration genius Lindelani Mkhize – that they were worthy to be saved from the bottom two during episode eight.

The group from Mpumalanga has since delivered, particularly with its excellent rendition of TkZee’s Shibobo. Bala said he was not worried about the final leg.

“I don’t do competitions well,” he joked but added he had reached a point where he was fascinated by the talent displayed by other choirs.

“After watching the performances on TV I SMSed Zakes and told him whoever wins this competition I will be happy for them because they have been phenomenal.”

Known for his success in composing songs for stage productions, Bala said while many might find it challenging working with a group, he worked well with different characters.

“Trust me, I dealt with serious people during this competition. But in the end cracking jokes during rehearsals enabled me to break the ice and tap into their personalities and that gave me an opportunity to see their faces brighten up at the concept of learning new things,” he said.


Meanwhile Mthethwa, who is last year’s Idols winner and who enjoyed a good few weeks at number one with good reviews from judges, said his choir was not in the finals by mistake.

The KwaZulu-Natal team is driven by the philosophy that they are “appointed by God”.

“We have a strong belief that everything that has happened so far was planned and is by the grace of God,” he said.

Mthethwa said through the competition he had seen the passion his choir had for music. “Win or lose, a lot will be taken out of this competition. If we win, a lot of lives will be changed,” he said.

Mthethwa hailed Ban-twini’s stage presentation and Bala’s vocal arrangement, joking that the two gave him sleepless nights.

Lives that have already been changed are those of father and daughter Ntokozo and Nontokozo Zulu, from Team Zwai.

Ntokozo said he had accompanied his 21-year-old daughter to the competition, but was chosen instead. She was included later.


The bond between the two has strengthened, with Nontokozo having the opportunity to further her career in music.

And although she was fired from her domestic worker job because of the competition, Thobeka Ndlovu, 21, said she had found her first love and believed she was destined for great things.

Saturday Star

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