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 [email protected] articleSouth African musicUseful linksPro Cantu Musica Mundilast_img read more

Wear slippers to help make dreams come true

first_imgYoung girls smile, enjoying last year’s successful Reach for dream Slipper Day. (Image: Reach for a Dream)For one day people can swap stilettos, brogues or sneakers for cosy slippers in the name of helping a gravely ill child.Reach for a Dream Foundation’s Slipper Day calls on ordinary citizens to make a difference by just donating R10 for a sticker to allow people to go to work on 5 August 2016 wearing slippers.This nationwide campaign has grown quickly since its inception in 2011. At first it was a provincial campaign when it amassed R175 000 in KwaZulu-Natal. In 2012 it went national and managed to raise R1.3-million. In 2015 it collected a staggering R3.5-million.According to Reach for a Dream’s website Slipper Day is a “fun initiative that creates awareness for the foundation, whilst raising funds to make more dreams a reality for children fighting life-threatening illnesses”.Bronwyn Feldwick-Davis, the foundation’s marketing manager said Slipper Day is successful because it gets all South Africans involved for as little as R10.“The thought of a child battling for their life when they should be enjoying the most magical time of their lives, their childhood, is something that most citizens feel compassion and empathy towards.”Julia Sotirianakos, CEO at the foundation said Slipper Day provides people an easy way to do something good and support children fighting life-threatening illnesses.“Even during tough economic times you can make a difference with just R10 and doing something fun with your feet,” she said.“By wearing your slippers on Slipper Day, you can help to bring dreams to life and if we can make dreams come true, we can instil hope in a child which will help them to continue fighting.”This year the foundation hopes to sell 650 000 stickers, which will almost double its fundraising total from 2015.Stickers can be bought at Reach for a Dream branches, as well as in Wimpy or Pick ‘n Pay stores nationwide.Reach for a Dream has been helping children and teens battling life-threatening illnesses since 1988. Whether it’s a surprise birthday party, a laptop, shopping sprees or meeting their favourite personality, the foundation has been making dreams come true.last_img read more

USDA now making Dairy Margin Coverage Program payments

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) opened enrollment for the Dairy Margin Coverage (DMC) program on June 17 and has started issuing payments to producers who purchased coverage. Producers can enroll through Sept. 20, 2019.“Times have been especially tough for dairy farmers, and while we hope producers’ margins will increase, the Dairy Margin Coverage program is providing support at a critical time for many in the industry,” said Bill Northey, USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation. “With lower premiums and higher levels of assistance than previous programs, DMC is already proving to be a good option for a lot of dairy producers across the country.  USDA is committed to efficiently implementing the safety net programs in the 2018 Farm Bill and helping producers deal with the challenges of the ever-changing farm economy.”Authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill, DMC replaces the Margin Protection Program for Dairy (MPP-Dairy). The program offers protection to dairy producers when the difference between the all-milk price and the average feed cost (the margin) falls below a certain dollar amount selected by the producer. To date, nearly 10,000 operations have signed up for the new program, and FSA has begun paying approximately $100 million to producers for January through May.May Margin PaymentDMC provides coverage retroactive to January 1, 2019, with applicable payments following soon after enrollment.The May 2019 income over feed cost margin was $9.00 per hundredweight (cwt.), triggering the fifth payment for eligible dairy producers who purchase the $9.50 level of coverage under DMC. Payments for January, February, March and April also were triggered.With the 50% hay blend, FSA’s revised April 2019 income over feed cost margin is $8.82 per cwt. The revised margins for January, February and March are, respectively, $7.71, $7.91 and $8.66.Coverage Levels and MPP ReimbursementsDairy producers can choose coverage levels from $4 up to $9.50 at the time of signup. More than 98% of the producers currently enrolled have elected $9.50 coverage on up to 95% of their production history. More InformationOn December 20, 2018, President Trump signed into law the 2018 Farm Bill, which provides support, certainty and stability to our nation’s farmers, ranchers and land stewards by enhancing farm support programs, improving crop insurance, maintaining disaster programs and promoting and supporting voluntary conservation. FSA is committed to implementing these changes as quickly and effectively as possible, and today’s updates are part of meeting that goal.For more information, visit farmers.gov DMC webpage or contact your local USDA service center. To locate your local FSA office, visit farmers.gov/service-locator.last_img read more

Are Microsoft and Yahoo Close to a Search Ad Deal Again?

first_imgWhy Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Tags:#Microsoft#news#NYT#web Related Posts Today, a number of rumors about a potential partnership between Yahoo and Microsoft surfaced once again. Almost a year ago, after months of back and forth between Microsoft and Yahoo, we thought any deal between the two companies was finally off the table, but rumors about potential deals continued to bubble up regularly in the last few months. Now, some news outletsarereporting that the two companies may be close to signing a partnership agreement that would allow them to collaborate on search technology and advertising. Bloomberg’s Dina Bass, citing anonymous sources, reports that a deal could be finalized within the next two weeks.None of these sources, however, seem to be very clear about the exact details of the deal. With Bing, Microsoft has developed a product that can compete head-to-head with Google’s search engine. Yet, even though Bing is slowly gaining ground and now has more than 10% of the search market according to some sources, overcoming Google’s inertia would be a very difficult challenge for any competitor, and a partnership with Yahoo could double Bing’s market share over night. For Yahoo, there is also an incentive to make a deal now, as Bing is likely to steal at least some market share away from Yahoo.$3 Billion?Kara Swisher reports that on the financial side of things, it looks like the latest deal would include Microsoft paying several billion dollars to Yahoo upfront to take over its search advertising business. If this deal goes through, Swisher reports, Yahoo would also take over Microsoft’s display ads business. Concrete numbers are still hard to come by, but 27/7 Wall Street reports that Yahoo would get $3 billion upfront and “will get 11% of the revenue that its searches provide after traffic acquisition costs in each of the first two years. In the third year, that figure would go to 90%.”As always, we will keep a close eye on this story as it unfolds. For now, there are still rumors, but they seem to be quite substantial, and a deal between Microsoft and Yahoo (though not a merger of the two companies) would definitely make sense at this point. 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketcenter_img Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… frederic lardinoislast_img read more

What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness

first_imgQuality relationships protect our bodies and our brains: This study found that individuals who were in a securely attached relationship in their 80s maintained sharper memories longer than those who were not in a relationship. Our relationships, protect our brain and maintain our brain’s cognitive functioning. Social connections are really good for us: The more social connections one has, the happier, healthier, and longer that individual will live. These connections can be with family, friends, or community. If you would like to know how to apply these lessons to your life, regardless of age, check out this TedTalk, or you can even read about the study here. Robert Waldinger is now the director of this study, which is in its second generation.ReferencesWaldinger, R. (2015, November). Robert Waldinger: What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/robert_waldinger_what_makes_a_good_life_lessons_from_the_longest_study_on_happinessThis post was written by  Caitlyn Brown of the  MFLN Family Development Team. The Family Development team aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network Family Development team on our website, Facebook, and Twitter. The quality of relationships is greater than the quantity: The number of social connections matters much less than the quality of those connections. Having poor or conflict-ridden relationships significantly impacts physical health and mental well-being. By: Caitlyn Brownpixabay[smile by bosco_lee1310, November 17, 2016. CCO]As human beings, we are often striving to reach our potential and the best version of ourselves. This can be reflected in a variety of settings: career, family, relationships, hobbies, sports, positions etc. Unfortunately, it is all too easy and common to slack in other areas of our lives as we pursue the next big thing in our lives or focus on our future only to realize, often too late, that our experiences throughout life may not have quite added up to our idea of a good life. What kind of wisdom will we pass on to our children about what it means to live a good life?This TedTalk by Robert Waldinger describes a study that began in 1938 and followed the lives of 724 men from their adolescence to their death. The Harvard Study of Adult Development is one of the longest studies of adult life which follows two groups of men: men who attended Harvard and boys in the lower socioeconomic group/disadvantaged families in Boston. Each participant was medically examined, interviewed in their homes and had their families also interviewed. Every two years, the participants would answer another set of questions about their lives, complete a face-to-face interview, and a multitude of other data submissions. The main conclusion of this 75-year study is this: Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.This study found that the impact of relationships on our happiness and health is broken down into three main lessons:last_img read more

Spurious liquor claims 10 lives in U.P.

first_imgTen people died after consuming spurious liquor in Uttar Pradesh’s Barabanki district on Tuesday, a spokesperson for Ajay Sahani, Superintendent of Police, said.A dozen officials of the Excise and the Police Departments have been suspended for the incident, officials said.The tragedy was reported from the Raniganj area under the Ramnagar police station of the district.Excise Minister J.P. Singh said six deaths had been confirmed so far. In the Home Department briefing held in the evening, IG Law and Order Praveen Kumar put the figure at 10 and said four others were critical.Among the victims were four members of one family. Several others had been admitted to the trauma centre in Lucknow.The district Excise officer and the superintendent along with the local Inspector, an SI and two police constables have been suspended, while the suspension of the circle officer was under process, said Mr. Kumar.The victims purchased the liquor from a local registered shop run by one Danvir Singh. A case has been lodged against him and two associates. While a salesman has been arrested, Singh is absconding.Minister J.P. Singh said it was a “lapse” on the part of the local officials that spurious liquor was sold at a licensed shop. “Somewhere it is a lapse of our officials and staff because there is a standing order that stock in every shop must be checked,” he said.Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath instructed the Principal Secretary, Excise Department, to probe the incident and take strict action against the culprits. The CM has directed a three-member committee led by the Excise commissioner to submit a report within 48 hours.The team would probe the source of the liquor, the accountability of the local Excise, police officials and any “conspiracy” angle, said Chief Secretary Anup Chandra Pandey.Rajeev Krishna, ADG Lucknow, said they were investigating at what stage the liquor was adulterated, whether at the factory or at the store. The shop did not have the licence to sell open liquor or serve it like a bar but could only sell closed bottles, he said.Mr. Adityanath announced an ex-gratia of ₹2 lakh each to the kin of the dead.last_img read more