Five residences from various universities across the country competed in the very first Atterbury Trust A cappella competition in Pretoria on Saturday in front of a packed theater and five judges.
With their “Barbie Dreamhouse” theme, the Kasteel ladies’ residence (Northwest University, Pukke) were named overall winners of the evening. These female students were neatly dressed in pink tailored suits, they had several excellent soloists and the choreography nicely rounded off their presentation.
The prize for audience favorite was presented to Huis Madelief (University of Pretoria, Tukkies). With their uniform pink outfits and boots, and energetic camaraderie and interaction, it was clear why this group made an impression on the audience.
Other hostels that participated include the Dagbreek men’s hostel (Stellenbosch University, Maties), the Patria men’s hostel (Pukke), and Huis Erica (Tukkies).
Dagbreek performed under the name “Eiffelkoor” and they evoked the feeling of nostalgia in me as an audience member. It was especially with their Coldplay selection that I thought: “This is the song I remember”. The band’s music was powerful, and it was beautiful to listen to and charming to look at.
With Patria’s performance as a petrol jockey, there was no shortage of enthusiasm either. They gave life to the music with movements and you could just see how each member of the group enjoyed being on stage.
House Erica’s theme was “Mom’s Club” and they carried it off skillfully with three types of costumes, short pieces of dialogue performed and several songs on the subject.
Jak de Priester was the master of ceremonies, and he entertained the audience with some of his hits such as “Sally Williams Nougat” and “Binnelanders”. The competition was judged by Anna Davel, Franco Prinsloo, Steffie le Roux, Stefanie Baartman and Francois Botha.
Experiencing the ensembles’ performances with colorful costumes, energetic movements and interaction, and the audience’s loud applause took me back to my own student days.
If, like me, you come from an era where the annual ATKV university festival was an absolute highlight on the cultural calendar, you will understand why I felt a little nostalgic as an audience member.
Any person who himself sang in a singing group or was in a residence with an established singing culture, would have been part of this in one way or another.
It was hours of singing, late nights, little sleep, and academic commitments that sometimes took their toll. But, it was also an environment where a diverse group of students found each other in music, where friendships were formed and residence pride was lived out.
Singing is not the sum total of a student’s university experience, but it undoubtedly contributes a large part to the culture, cohesion and musical development of budding musicians. In fact, many artists who today follow a successful music career, such as Pierre Greeff, Deon Meiring, Navi Redd and Vaughn Gardiner, participated in student music at the time.
With this in mind, I obviously had a specific expectation of the evening: residences that choose costumes and music around a specific theme, choreography that is hyper similar, instruments that support the singing, own compositions, a selection game or two that is a mixture of music aggregators and experts who judge the music.
The Atterbury A cappella competition met all these expectations. It was truly a wonderful experience, especially to see that it is not only fellow students who support each other, but also loved ones who have come from far and wide.
I sincerely hope that the Atterbury Trust will build on this and make this a cappella competition an annual institution.