This past Saturday we witnessed one of the toughest Top Eight competitions in Malay Choir history.
The teams were all well prepared and from the word go, the bar was set high in City Hall.
The Primroses opened the competition and showed just why they are making one of the biggest comebacks as a choir this season.
They sang a breathtaking combine chorus as a tribute to Bo-Kaap, where residents are fighting to keep their history and culture intact and keep big businesses and gentrification out.
Ziyaad Hattas once again brought one of the best original pieces for the choral season. Ridewaan Galant, who now sings lead on the Nederlandslied for Primroses, ended in second place but his performance was nothing short of brilliant, showing once again just why he is one of the best exponents of the karinkel.
They were then closely contested by the Shoprite Jonge Studente, who once again walked away with the combine chorus first prize on the night.
Studente have, in my opinion, the best tone and diction in the Cape Malay Choir Board family with regards to combine and are deserved winners.
Another performer who stood out for me was Imo V of the Young Men singkoor, who did the moppie Die Spoek.
One of the teams that also impressed me was the Starlites, who are also making a strong comeback this year.
Under the leadership of Adiel Dante, they delivered a stellar performance on all their items and showcased some well controlled choral singing on their combine.
The Starlites also came to the party on the Nederlandslied and on Saturday night surprised many of the top guns.
The night, however, belonged to the Ottomans singkoor who walked away with first prize in three categories - moppie song, solo and the Nederlandslied.
One could sense the confidence as the Otties stepped on the stage.
Their soundcheck alone had the audience applauding and from the very first note, they were just on a different level.
Their combine chorus, although it got a second prize, was nothing short of amazing.
They sang to the tune of James Ingram’s hit How do you keep the music playing?
The voice arrangement by Ameer Williams was cleverly done and pleasing to the ear.
It is difficult to single out one specific voice in the combine, but the baseline of the Ottomans left me speechless; they really are beyond talented.
Ghakeem Roman, who is well known for his comedic talents, sang lead on the moppie. Roman, who is one of the veteran performers, was much more confident this year and he pulled off the moppie with sheer class and experience.
He placed his singing parts cleverly and when it was time for him to do comical movement, he did it with ease; so much so that there was a moment when he was lying on the floor and kicking his leg in the air, yet the choir was still holding things together so that he had that freedom.
This is the kind of intelligence that Ottomans have in their ranks.
Roman also received the highest points for a moppie and was awarded a keep-sake trophy, sending him into the ranks of Cape Malay choir moppie greatness.
The Nederlandslied of the Ottomans was well arranged and performed by Rafeeq Domingo. Domingo was also scored the highest on the evening and what I love about him as lead singer on the Nederlandslied is that he does not for one moment sing for himself.
He is always conscious of his team behind him, never overshadowing them and never singing louder than them.
This I believe is the reason for his success on the Nederlandslied, his humility and the respect he shows to the ouens singing behind him.
The competition was well put together by the Cape Malay Choir Board.
Shafiek April and his team did a great job so that we all could enjoy a top class competition in a venue that is perhaps not the best for choir singing.
So once again, well done to the CMCB.