China sings NMMU praises

NELSON Mandela Metropolitan University's choir will soon be jetting off to Beijing, China to represent the African continent at the 12th China International Choral Festival and IFCM World Choral Summit.

The NMMU Choir, led by conductor Junita van Dijk, has received an invitation to return to China in July, after its previous opening performance two years ago left an audience of 18000 in awe.

The festival will feature 160 choirs from all over the world. With financial support from NMMU and the Chinese government, the tour to China has become a realistic goal for the Port Elizabeth choir.

Van Dijk said the singers were an enthusiastic bunch who always strives to be better.

"It is such a huge honour for us to represent our country. We received an admirable group of new singers, who are all passionate about what they do.

"We are definitely looking forward to the event," she said.

"Seeing that we took part in the previous festival in China, we know what to expect. The same manager committee will be there, so they are familiar with us."

The choir, which consists of 55 members, both students and alumni, come from different walks of life and prides itself in being multicultural, in both membership and music performed.

"It is such an honour to be invited to this prestigious event, the choir is really proud and excited, choir member Ashleigh Mackilligan said. "I know the city as well as the university are really proud of the NMMU choir and what it has accomplished.

"It's almost like the NMMU Choir are ambassadors for the university and city," she said.

Known to be an active choir, the singers have featured in several marketing projects by the university, including the famous "NMMU Flashmob" and "NMMU's Tribute to Nelson Mandela on his 94th Birthday", both with an impressive numbers of views on YouTube.

The group has also performed live on SABC's Expresso TV breakfast show, and featured on SABC3 news.

The choir hopes to raise additional funds through shows and other fundraising efforts. The songbirds are also looking to the people and businesses of Port Elizabeth for sponsorship for the tour.

Another choir member, Jessica Horne, said: "If there is any personor business in a position to help us with sponsorship for our tour to China, please contact us on choir@nmmu.ac.za.

With departure scheduled on July 25, the choir has little time to bring in the much-needed funds.

"If you ever had a chance to see the NMMU Choir perform live, you will understand why we'll be going back to China," Van Dijk said.

"The group is driven and strong. What makes this choir so successful, is its members' love for music." They practice six hours a week and even more before a tour or concert, so all their efforts definitely pays off." - Chanice Koopman