Old Mutual helps make a joyful noise

The Khomas region’s auditions for the first ever Old Mutual National Gospel Choir Festival took place at the Jan Mohr Secondary School last Saturday. 
The Bet el Youth Choir and the Voquality Choir emerged as the winners in the Khomas region auditions and will advance to the final competition in October.
The two choirs will join the winners of other regional competitions including the Soli Deo Gloria Group, Sion Mass Choir, Betesda Parish Choir, Exodus 2 Parish Choir, Alfa Choir, Ekandanga Choir, Immanuel Parish Choir, Immanuel Mass Choir, Hosianna Worship Team, Shalom Ensemble Choir, Omaruru Parish Choristers, Tseib Choral Choir and the St Jones Choir for the final.
The sombre mood which filled the school’s assembly hall before the auditions started was quickly transformed as seven choirs and their choir masters took to the stage to perform two songs in front of judges, Engelhardt #Unaeb and Evan Scheffers from the Namibian Gospel Music Trust. 
The audience was filled with families and supporters of the various choral groups.
To qualify for the finals, each choir had to sing As The Deer as the prescribed presentation followed by a song of their own choice.
The Holy Redeemer Parish Choir, Church of Africa, the Bet el Youth choir, Voquality Youth Choir, Oruuano Church Choir, St Johns Apostolic Faith Church Choir, and the Paulus // Gowaseb Choir battled it out to see who would impress the judges and move on to the final competition.
In May, each choir conductor took part in a workshop for choir conductors to gain insight on choral music as well as to learn leadership skills.
Old Mutual Namibia Marketing Consultant Gabriel Hamunyela said that the choir competition is part of the financial services provider’s commitment to ploughing back into communities.
“Old Mutual Namibia has for decades been a responsible business partner to the Namibian community. Not only has Old Mutual been steadfast in its promise of being a friend in uncertain times, but it has intrinsically become part of the fabric that makes Namibia the flagship of success.
“Old Mutual invests more than 1 percent of net profit after tax in efforts that deliver on our social responsibility mandate.  Music is at the core of who we are as a nation, and song and dance have been the cornerstones for celebration or mourning, which is why we chose to sponsor a festival within the church choir community,” he said.
Conductor of the Holy Redeemer Parish Choir Godfried Shailemo said that he was happy that his choir was part of the competition.
“I am happy that we are here, because we practiced long and hard. I am confident that we will impress the judges and make it to the finals. I am also grateful to Old Mutual for giving us the opportunity to express ourselves through song especially us being a church choir because not many church choirs are given a platform to show what they can do in Namibia.”
The festival was launched in April and was followed by auditions in the Omusati, Otjozondjupa, Karas and Erongo regions.
The first place choir at the festival final in October will win N$50,000 and a trophy. Second place will win N$25,000 and a trophy while the third ranked choir will walk away with N$15,000 and a trophy.
The best conductor will receive a trophy and N$5,000 and the winners of the prescribed song and own song categories will each win a trophy.
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