SA a hit at World Choir Games

first_imgPro Cantu in full voice. (Image: Alan Marais)Jennifer SternWhile most South Africans can rattle off our medal tally at the 2008 Olympics (that would be one) and the Paralympics (a more respectable 30), few know we won 24 in a rather different global event, the fifth World Choir Games, held in Austria in July. Formerly known as the Choir Olympics, the games are staged in a different country every four years. This years’ event was attended by more than 440 choirs from 93 countries from across the world.South African choirs won gold in 15 different categories, bringing home not only the most gold medals, but the most medals overall in the youth and children category. The next highest tally in this category was Russia with 18. We also won one gold medal in the adult category. The way medals are awarded in choir competitions is more like a marathon than the Olympics. Gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded for attaining a particular score, just as they are for different times in marathons.Cape Town-based choir Pro Cantu, under the direction of conductor Leon Starker, won two gold medals, coming first in the Sacred Music category and fifth in the Youth Choir Mixed Voices category. The choir has been raising its voice in song since it was started by Andre van der Merwe in 1997. There were children’s choirs and there were adult choirs in Cape Town, but no youth choirs, so Van der Merwe took the gap.The singers’ ages range from 14 to 25, it’s a mixed bag, with lots of different energies at play. Francois Swart, a 22-year-old IT consultant says he likes the youthful vibe of the choir. He started singing with Pro Cantu in 2004, the year Starker took over from Van der Merwe as conductor. Swart took a few years out singing for the Stellenbosch University Choir when he was a student, but he is glad to be back.Voices onlyThe style of Pro Cantu, which means “for singing”, is a capella – voices only, with no accompanying instrumental music. They memorise all their words and music, using no sheet music, and there is no amplification. They’re truly unplugged. And it’s astonishing what a well-trained choir can do with their voices – and their bodies.In one song – Laduma, which tells a story of group of people walking to a wedding at a nearby village – the singing is interspersed with astonishingly well-coordinated finger clicks and foot-stamping that sounds so convincingly like rain and thunder it had the audience at one performance anxiously looking towards the ceiling.In another, the Australian piece Past Life Melodies, the singers use their voices to emulate the sound of a didgeridoo, and by careful harmonising create layers of resonance to form new sounds that no one choir member could achieve alone. If you saw the movie As it is in Heaven you’ll have an idea of what it’s about.Commitment to musicThe choir’s age range makes it a part-time activity, as the members have school, university or, less frequently, work obligations. They rehearse twice a week for two hours each, which doesn’t sound like much, but some members struggle even to find that much time.Scott Lee-Jones, a fourth-year medical student, often threatens to leave due to work pressure but he just can’t bring himself to do so. He loves the music and – coming from a musical family – can’t imagine living without it. Pro Cantu also gives him a chance to achieve significant milestones, such as the two gold medals at the choir games.One member who will be leaving at the end of this year is Garth Kayster who, at 26, is the “old man” of the group and should really have left last year. But luckily for him – and the choir – international choir regulations allow up to 10% of the choir members to be over 25. He is the longest-standing member, having joined in 1999 straight from the Tygerberg Children’s Choir, one of Pro Cantu’s feeder choirs for Pro Cantu.But as one leaves, another joins. One of the newest members is Monde Mdingi, a 22-year-old music student at the University of Cape Town. He’s only been in the choir for six months after trying it out at Starker’s invitation and “falling in love with it immediately”. He comes from a long line of jazz musicians, so his choral work makes him a bit of a rebel in his familyChanging membership is an integral part of the choir, and most people who leave do so at the end of the year, when prospective new members are auditioned. So the year starts with a new complement of singers who all get to know each other at a weekend “boot camp”. At the end of the weekend, they put on a mini-concert for their parents. Then they spend the first half of the year practising and building up their repertoire.Most of the performances – and competitions if there are any – are in the second half of the year. In the latter part of 2008 they have 12 concerts. Most concerts are in the Cape Town area, but they are hoping to tour the rest of the country in 2009 – obviously during school and university vacation.Pro Cantu is an officially registered non profit organization. To help with fundraising they perform at corporate functions, launches and other events. Each member pays a small annual fee, which covers the day-to-day running costs, and tours and competitions are funded by concerts and donations from corporations and individuals. The choir has recently cut its sixth CD, Far Horizons, which should also help to garner a few funds.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at marya@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Related articleSouth African musicUseful linksPro Cantu Musica Mundilast_img read more

UK outsourcing giant buys into SA

first_img25 July 2012British outsourcing giant Capita plc has entered the sub-Saharan African market through the acquisition of South African contact centre solutions business Full Circle for an undisclosed amount.Newspaper Business Day reported Capita as saying the acquisition would see it investing R500-million in South Africa over the next three years.“Capita is one of the largest companies of its kind, providing ‘front-office’ contact centre and back office processing solutions for multiple clients from the private and public sectors,” Capita’s joint chief operating officer, Vic Gysin, said in a statement last week.“The acquisition of Full Circle, a leading contact centre solutions business in South Africa, will enable us to provide a full range of offshored services in the region to our clients.”Peter Ryan, a lead researcher with UK-based technology analyst firm Ovum, told UK website ChannelBiz that Capita’s move would provide the company “with a deeper penetration into global brand names such as Amazon, as well as the hosted delivery platform that Full Circle has been pioneering.“This is significant considering the very high level of quality that many executives in the UK (and the broader English-speaking world) associate with contact centre work from South Africa,” Ryan said.Gareth Pritchard, CEO of Business Process enabling South Africa (BPeSA), said Capita’s acquisition “demonstrates the high value international companies see in the professionalism of home-bred organisations.“Capita will play a significant role in developing the industry and thereby become a major contributor in our efforts to create jobs in the Western Cape,” Pritchard added.Western Cape Premier Helen Zille said Capita’s experience would “reinforce the Western Cape’s reputation as a serious offshore BPO [business process outsourcing] location.“Their investment into the region shows the important role that local businesses such as Full Circle have to play in facilitating BPO investment into South Africa.”SAinfo reporterlast_img read more

Minimize the risk of harvest fires

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest Dry corn and soybean fields have put farmers at greater risk of their combines catching on fire while harvesting crops.At least three combine fires were sparked across Ohio in one week this fall. Two happened during the recent week-long heatwave: one in Crawford County on Sept. 22, another in Miami County on Sept. 24. A third combine fire happened Sept. 28 in Shelby County leaving a man with serious burns, according to news reports.Combines can catch fire when the dry plant material or grain dust mix with heat generated by the combine’s motor, belts or exhaust system or by the static electricity produced as the combine is driven through a field, said Rory Lewandowski. He is an agricultural and natural resources educator for Ohio State University Extension, the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences (CFAES) at The Ohio State University.Every year, harvest comes with some risk of combine fires, but this year was especially dry so the risk is higher than usual, Lewandowski said. The recent rains have certainly helped, but have not eliminated the risk.Having machinery equipped with a trustworthy fire extinguisher is one of the first lines of defense against field fires, said Dee Jepsen, state safety leader for OSU Extension. Combines should carry an ABC 10-pound fire extinguisher, while tractors are recommended to have a 5-pound unit. Every vehicle in the field should have a fire extinguisher, she said.“Nothing is worse than watching the combine go up in flames while you’re running to the end of the field to retrieve the fire extinguisher on the grain cart,” Jepsen said.Another safety measure is to attach a chain to the frame of the combine and allow it to drag along the ground, which can reduce the buildup of static electricity, Lewandowski said. Clearing away chaff from various parts of the combine could also reduce the odds of fire, he said.“We wouldn’t have near the risk of fires if we were harvesting under wet conditions,” he said.The week-long heat wave that began Sept. 21 and ended Sept. 27 included multiple record-high days, said Aaron Wilson, climate specialist for OSU Extension.In the first half of September, temperatures averaged 2 to 9 degrees below normal, then in the second half of the month, the mercury rose. During the heat wave, the northern part of Ohio was 12 to 16 degrees above normal, and the southern part of the state was 8 to 12 degrees above average.“It’s a pretty extreme shift,” Wilson said.Additional safety tips to avoid a combine fire include the following:Keep machinery in good repair. Apply grease to bearings and oil chains regularly to reduce friction. It is advisable to perform maintenance checks at the end of the day, rather than at the beginning, to detect any hot or smoldering areas that may break out into flames overnight.Keep machinery clean and free of plant materials, especially around the wrap points. Wipe up any fuel or oil leaks to eliminate additional fuel sources; and do not leave oily rags on equipment or in the cab.Take time to cool down the equipment each night, and check for any hot spots.last_img read more

Passivhaus Finds a Home in the Bayou State

first_imgInsulated and airtightThe house has been variously dubbed “the 204House” or the “LeBois House.” The project features R-28 Icynene LD-R-50 walls and an R-55 Icynene LD-R-50 roof, with 2×6 and 2×8 advanced framing, Saft noted in an email to GBA. The exterior walls are wrapped in 1-inch polyisocyanurate, the roof in 2-inch polyiso. Siding consists of pre-painted fiber cement board and white standing seam metal panels. Saft said there is a 1-inch space between the siding and the polyiso to help “shade” the walls and prevent heat and moisture buildup.R-21 extruded polystyrene (XPS) was used for the basement/crawlspace walls, and R-16.5 XPS under the slab. Saft also used SeriousWindows’ 501 series vinyl-frame windows, with SeriousGlass 8 double-pane glass.The one renewable-energy component of the house is a 3.25-kW thin-film photovoltaic system by Houston-based WhirlwindSolar. Although sustainable materials and energy efficient design have found their way into some post-Katrina residential rebuilds on the Gulf Coast, Louisiana isn’t otherwise known for leading the charge to greener home construction. And that puts the house built by architect Corey Saft at the forefront of green housing in the state.The home, a 1,200-sq.-ft. three-bedroom, two-bath in the south-central town of Lafayette, is in fact an anomaly in Louisiana, mainly because Saft designed it to qualify not only for LEED Platinum certification but also certification by Passive House Institute US.Saft, a professor of architecture at the University of Louisiana, told the Lafayette-based news daily The Advocate that the building’s energy-recovery ventilator – an UltimateAir RecoupAerator, with MERV 12 filters – will deliver exceptional air quality. The home’s overall airtightness and shell insulation, he adds, make it “a little bit of an experiment” for housing in the Louisiana climate. RELATED ARTICLES Following Up on a Passive House in the Deep SouthDoes Passivhaus Work in New Orleans?Passive Aggressive The LeBois House in LafayettePassive House? The Le Bois Houselast_img read more

Video Production Tip: Tracking Shots with a Tripod or Monopod

first_imgThis technique for getting smooth tracking shots is perfect for the videographer or filmmaker on-the-go.Creating smooth tracking shots often means that you’ll need access to a jib or slider – both pieces of equipment that are bulky and expensive.  As an alternative, these quick tips from one of our favorite DSLR and filmmaking sites FENCHEL & JANISCH shows you how to pull off a smooth tracking shot with less.The following quick tutorials give tips for getting polished shots using only a monopod or tripod.  If you’re in a bind or on the move this technique should do the trick!See Fenchel & Janisch featured in our previous post: “10 Filmmaking Sites You Should Be Reading“Tracking Shots with a TripodTracking Shots with a Monopodlast_img read more

Crime Branch to probe elephants’ deaths

first_imgChief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday ordered a Crime Branch probe into the electrocution of seven elephants in Dhenkanal district. Expressing concerns over the incident, Mr. Patnaik directed that appropriate action be taken in case of any criminal negligence.Subsequently, a team of the Crime Branch visited Kamalanga village in Dhenkanal where seven elephants had died after coming in contact with sagging live 11 kV electric wire on Saturday.“We have already constituted a probe team under the leadership of CID Superintendent of Police Madhkar Sandeep Sampat. He would personally supervise the case. The probe would detect lapses that led to such a tragic incident,” said Santosh Kumar Upadhyay, Additional Director General (Crime Branch).Meanwhile, the State Forest and Environment department on Sunday filed a complaint against five executives of CESU, the power distribution company, at the Kantabania police station under the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972. Naresh Patnaik, the CESU’s circle manager of Dhenkanal, Nihar Panigrahi, executive engineer, and Artatran Nayak, assistant engineer, have been named in the complaint.CESU blamed State’s Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) Sandeep Tripathy had squarely blamed the CESU for the death of the elephants.“Due to non-rectification of sagging electric lines and non-cabling of transmission lines, the accident has occurred, claiming the lives of seven elephants in Meramundali section of the Dhenkanal forest division,” he said.The Divisional Forest Officer of Dhenkanal in November last year had written to the executive engineer of CESU to rectify sagging overhead transmission line of 11 kV from Kamalanga to Kalitalia of Meramundali section. But it was not rectified. As a result, the live wire were found sagging at a height of seven to eight feet.According to Ranjit Patnaik, a wildlife researcher, Indian Electricity Rules, 1955, mandates testing of all apparatus, cables and supply lines periodically. The same was decided at a number of coordination meetings between forest and energy departments. However, RTI information about inspection of power lines for the period from April 1, 2011 to December 15, 2016 (nearly six years) revealed no inspections, said Mr. Patnaik.last_img read more

PH coach confident of chances against Cambodia in men’s U-22 football

first_imgCelebrity chef Gary Rhodes dies at 59 with wife by his side NGCP on security risk: Chinese just technical advisers Head coach Marlon Maro said the Philippines have a more potent lineup — compared to winless squad in Singapore SEAG — composed of several club players like Kou Ichi Belgira.But they are up against a motivated Cambodia side whose prime minister reportedly promised them $1,000 each for every won game.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsPosted on the aseanfootball.org, Prime minister Hun Sen was also said to have dangled $10,000 each if they win the gold, $7,500 for silver and $4,000 for bronze.Cambodia’s sponsor Angkor Beer Company reportedly promised $5,000 for a semifinal finish and $8,000 for a gold medal feat. The country needs to score nine points — a win is worth three points — to make the semifinals.“I think it’s doable because if there’s one team to dominate it would be (defending champion) Thailand, the rest will split points,” said Maro.The country’s best performance in the SEAG was bronze in the 1977 SEA Games.Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Trump signs bills in support of Hong Kong protesters Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games03:07PH billiards team upbeat about gold medal chances in SEA Games05:25PH boxing team determined to deliver gold medals for PH03:04Filipino athletes share their expectations for 2019 SEA Games00:45Onyok Velasco see bright future for PH boxing in Olympics02:25PH women’s volleyball team motivated to deliver in front of hometown crowd01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games00:36Manny Pacquiao part of 2019 SEA Games opening ceremony MOST READ Despite that, Maro said the Philippines will have a very strong chance of winning in the 8:30 p.m. match.“They beat us 1-0 with the Philippines having a depleted team and Cambodia playing in their home turf,” said Maro.Now, according to Maro, the PH strikers are “healthy, very strong and very excited to play.”However, Games officials didn’t allow the Philippines to train in the evening for “lack of lighted stadium.”“I don’t understand that because they have so many football stadium with flood lights,” said Maro. “But we will still practice in the morning and the afternoon.”ADVERTISEMENT NATO’s aging eye in the sky to get a last overhaul Metta World Peace not closing door on playing in PHcenter_img LATEST STORIES DILG, PNP back suspension of classes during SEA Games Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Photo by Marc Reyes/INQUIRERKUALA LUMPUR — Nine points to the semifinals.That’s the immediate goal of the Philippine men’s under-22 football team here as it embarks against Cambodia Tuesday in the Southeast Asian Games at Selayang Stadium.ADVERTISEMENT Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. View commentslast_img read more