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New era for Serumula


…choir looks beyond challenges and sets eyes on new heights

Mohloai Mpesi

One of Lesotho’s celebrated choral music choirs Serumula Performing Arts Academy (SPAA) has taken a new turn in the sound of their music.

According to SPAA founder and choirmaster, Lehlomela Tente, during its Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Maseru last week, the choir announced its plan to explore new melody lines, comprising of different genres such as gospel and jazz to name a few.

He said the bid to have diversification of music is for experimental purposes which will become a long term project if it works out, geared towards unearthing new talent and explore different genres of music because the plan is to do everything that includes performance without focusing mainly on choral; hence the name incorporates Performing Arts Academy.      

The new curvature comes after the choir registered ten new members to forge a new path for the group after losing some five choristers in 2020 due to punitive measures.  

The new members this year are; Agnes Mahlomola, Maphakisi Sekese, Stacy Maphathe, Mamokete Marana, Raphael Tlali, Thato Tjofane, Motena Lebeko and Motena Liao as well as Bafokeng Makara and Bafokeng Maino.

“There is growth in the choir and one would tell by listening to the quality of voices we have. I see a lot of potential, which is going to be the youngest, underrated but the most dangerous choir I have ever conducted because we have unknown choristers, who are practically underdogs,” he said.

He said the choir has not been active for a year and half since the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic, which birthed a financial rough patch to the choir. Besides the financial distresses, it is the year that the choir went through tribulations that almost left it in ruins.

The mounting distresses prompted Tente to recuse myself from the conductorship of the choir before the board intervened to establish the root cause of the apparent mayhem.

The probing where choristers were also interviewed included different senior members, juniors and new members which ultimately led to a decision to banish some members.

“I was then recalled to lead the choir after the probing was completed,” he said.

He continued that all their events got cancelled because of Covid-19, including the 20-year wedding Anniversary of his Majesty King Letsie III where they were invited as a guest choir.

More woes poured-in when the Ihlombe Choir Festival which was supposed to be held in Durban got cancelled, while there were also people selected to go on a month long trip to France which also came to naught.

SPAA convened their rehearsals last year October prepping to make a presentation at the annual Southern African Development Community-Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF) on December 10 last year. In the same month the choir took-off to Durban to contest in the Heroes Charity competitions where they scooped the second position, bagging M27 000.  

He highlighted some of their challenges as financial, mostly money due unto them yet to be received by the choir.

“We are still waiting for M27 000 to come through from the Heroes Charity competitions last December in Durban. We are also awaiting our money from Parliament to come through since our performance last December,” he said, adding that they still have a pending payout to the tune of M250 000 from the Melting Pot competitions which has not come forth since 2016.

 â€œWe won the first position with Thapelo Tsa Rona and received a trophy … we exhausted all the measures demanding the money, processed the invoices but we were sent from pillar to post. When we asked the Municipality they referred us to Melting Pot stating that they gave money to Melting Pot and vice-versa.

“This did not only happen to us as SA Singers who had won M1million also did not receive it, and the same predicament befell African Singers,” he said.

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