Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Mayor to honour the Kearsney Choir

While South Africans forge ahead in the Gold League stakes at the Olympic Games in London, next week offers music-lovers in Durban and surrounds a golden opportunity to celebrate the recent triumphs of one of our most illustrious musical institutions.
The Choir will appear live in concert in the Durban City Hall on Tuesday 7 August at the invitation of the Mayor of Durban, Cllr James Nxumalo. The concert follows a reception with the Mayor, at which he is to bestow an honour on the choir.

Experience the magic for yourself!

Venue: Durban City Hall
Date: Tuesday, 7 August

The concert performance starts at 19h30 and will end at approximately 21h30.
All bookings on Computicket (direct link to show bookings)

Sunday, July 22, 2012

15th to 17th July

I feel I need to "bring us home" in order to fully complete the diary of our 3 week tour! 
We were up at 3am on Sunday morning and ready to leave Cincinnati by 4am en route to the airport.  As so many choirs were flying out of Cincinnati our large group had to make a split and a detour in order to get to New York.  The going was very slow, what with only 2 people on duty at the check-in and all the security one is expected to pass through.  I eventually ran to the plane with as many boys as had come through security with 5 mins before take-off - but fortunately they held the plane until all 32 of my charges were on board.  We flew the two and a half hours to Philadelphia where, on arrival, we had to secure a flight to NY for Bonita as she was told there was not enough room on "our" plane from Philadelphia to NY.  Fortunately we managed to secure a seat for her at 11:30am whereas the balance of us would be flying at 13:15.  Thereafter we settled down for our 3 hour wait - eating and watching Eliane's dvd footage.  At about 12:30 an employee of the airline we were flying on pulled me aside and said that our luggage would not fit on the plane.  When I saw the plane I understood the truth of her words.  A small turbo-propped plane (pappa-charlie) stared back at me from the runway! After organising that our luggage be couriered to our hotel in New York we stood in line to board the plane.  Then I was told that not all the boys would be able to get on the flight!  Even I have my limits - my eyes flashed and I said,"I will not leave without my boys!"  And then we were all on the flight!  What a fun flight it was filled with only Kearsney boys and staff. The plane was small and felt the turbulence on the 45 minute journey, the air hostess told the boys that if anybody needed drinks they should ring their service attention bell as she could not serve them as she would normally.  Well, a cachophany of bell ringing greeted our ears as 32 boys pressed the button calling for attention.  The boys also raised their arms and 'rode the turbulence' as they had the rides at Cedar Point.  We arrived in NY to be met by Mike and Ruben who were to drive us around NY for our last day.  We checked into the Hyatt and were ready to leave an hour later for supper and a show.  As we were about to leave, our luggage arrived, couriered from Philadelphia - excluding one.  Poor Milo - but he received it the next day just prior to our departure!  We went to the Jeckyll and Hyde restaurant - filled with atmosphere and fascinating nooks and crannies plus an actor who literally was a creepy fellow.  From there we went on to the Blue Man Group - an amazing 2 hour show with not one word spoken by the three blue-faced actors.  They used light, music facial expression and audience participation to the full.  It was slightly unnerving seeing plastic rain jackets draped over the front chairs for the audience to wear.  Wesley Lazenby participated in the show - he was asked before-hand if he was willing.  Difficult to describe but humorous and enthralling.  Back to the hotel for the last night in NY.  We left at 8 am, after waiting for a few who had not woken to their alarms, and checked in for our Emirates flight.  Again, a long, slow check-in process with queues of people and only 2 passport checks and security points open.  Finally we were on the plane and about to embark on a 20 hour flight home.  The boys were comatose for the majority of the 2 flights rousing themselves briefly to shop in Dubai.  Landing in Durban the anticipation of seeing loved ones grew as we assembled all our luggage and appeared through the doors into the arrivals hall.....

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Messages to the Choir: Thank you

We thank the friends and family of the Choir from all over the world for the kind messages of congratulations recieved. We acknowledge the important role that your support plays in the success of our Choir. We will soon be creating a page of such messages to share with our blog followers.

Should you wish to send any message and have difficulty on the blog, please email
Thanks to Eliane, we now have the last two minutes included!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Watch the Kearsney Choir perform their Scenic Folklore Programme

Watch the Kearsney Choir perform their Scenic Folklore Programme at the Champions Concert after the announcement of the Choir winning the Category.
This video was filmed by Eliane Sussman who accompanied us on our trip in the USA.

Messages for the Choir

Dear Tracey

I have just heard the wonderful news from Elwyn. While he was telling me I could not stop the tears I was so proud of the fantastic performance of Bernard, The Boys and Support Staff. My sincere congratulations to all of you. You have brought great credit to Kearsney and yourselves. You are really World Class.

Graeme Shuker
Kearsney Trustee


Following the boys from my desktop, I am so impressed by the way they are presenting themselves. One can see the passion in the pictures; the true Kearsney spirit shows. Kearsney has enabled Africa to be a force to reckon with amongst “1st World” competitors. I’m so proud to have been a part of this dynamic brand in my time at the College. Praises to Bernard, Tracey, the touring fans/parents and the boys. Never let the passion die.

Carpe Diem,
Mnqobi Dlamini | Student, Durban
(Kearsney Old Boy 2009 and Choir member)


Bernard en die KC Koor,

Veels geluk met julle twee goue medaljes, maar veral dat julle as kampioene gekroon is in die Scenic Folklore kategorie. Dit was ‘n welverdiende beloning vir julle toewyding en harde werk.

Kearsney College has now been firmly established amongst the champions in the World Choir Games records.

Veilige terugreis na Suid-Afrika.

Jan en Tertia van Aswegen.
Ruben's Grandparents


Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Champions' Concert - 14 July 2012

Message from Headmaster

Via Facebook:
Kearsney boys, you have done us all proud. Hard work and much sacrifice has paid off. Congratulations, you have achieved your goal. Well done to BK and the staff and thank you to parents and all the supporters all over the world.

Thank you

Today's blog may be the last that I shall post before returning home.  The next few days until Tuesday are to be travelling days and it will be difficult to update the blog in transit.  It has been a privilege to tour with the boys and with the team of managing adults, Yin-Chu and Eliane in particular.  We have had fun, made new friends and had the most amazing experiences both off the stage and on.  Thank you to all whom we have met on our journey - those who hosted us and those who volunteered their services to make the World Choir Games such a success.  Also, thank you to those Kearsney families who travelled with us - it was always wonderful to see a familiar face and to have support and help. 
Thank you too for all the comments we have received on the blog, email and Facebook - it has been a real motivator!
Best regards
Bernard, Warren, Bonita and Tracey

Saturday, July 14, 2012

14 July: Awards Ceremony at World Choir Games

Your sons/brothers/friends are World Champions in the category Scenic Folklore!
Congratulations to Bernard, Bonita, Warren and Brigette on a successful tour and all the hours of hard work, organisation and preparation that went into getting the boys ready for the World Choir Games and the international stage - it was worth it.

The boys are well loved here in the United States.
The day started with breakfast and the same question, “Ma’am do you think we have won?” Difficult to try and predict as you do not have the opportunity to view your opponents/competition. The audience loved the boys giving them two standing ovations each time they performed, but we did not know how the judges would react and score.
We walked to the arena for the awards ceremony – Bank Arena –seems to be an ice rink or ice hockey venue (minus the ice, of course). We heard that there would be 5 categories announced and that Scenic Folklore was to be the Fourth Category in the line-up. The first three categories had 16, 18 and 22 choirs respectively and then the 18 choirs of the Scenic Folklore category was upon us. The tension grew as the lowest mark was 66% and a Silver Medal, finally we reached the gold medal winners and each time a choir whose name started with a “K” was read out the boys gasped. 
The winners from 2010 were announced as gold medal winners and then the Chinese Experimental School were announced, our two biggest competitors. The excitement rose, but the boys were too scared to believe it. Then they announced the WCG Champions and we knew without a doubt that we had won! When Kearsney’s name was read out the boys erupted/exploded into a mass of excited movement, like fast flowing lava, towards the stage. They hugged each other, shouted in joy, waved the SA flag and the Kearsney Flag. The audience was most gracious in their congratulatory clapping and cheering. Then our flag was raised and the boys linked arms and sang the national anthem with pride and pleasure. Oh, how wonderful it would be if all South Africans could have seen our boys; their unity, determination and brotherhood – it was a very proud moment. You will be able to witness each and every second as Eliane Sussman has videoed the ceremony and all the concerts and all the experiences in between!

All our pics from Awards Ceremony

We were escorted out of the arena and directly to the performance centre. A beautiful theatre built primarily for singing. We were fed and put into a holding room for three hours. Some boys just lay on the carpet and slept! I went into the auditorium with Eliane to record the performance and once again the boys were applauded even as they placed their instruments on the stage. Then for one last time they pulled on their resources and gave another energetic performance, although the voices are definitely on their last legs – plenty more bases now than when we left home!! They received two standing ovations, no polite standing, but a solid mass- movement of appreciation from three tiers of balconies and the auditorium of the theatre, 1000s of people. On hearing we were with the choir some reporters came backstage and interviewed the boys. Even walking back to the hotel, cars were hooted and a thumbs up given by the occupants.
We have supper and then the Closing Ceremony – the boys will have some free time in which to socialise and pack as we will head off at 4am tomorrow morning.

Pure Joy

Article on Interkultur blog

A good article about out Choir's win -

With thanks

We are greatly thankful to all of our sponsors, hosts, friends and family for the support and faith in our boys’ talent and passion. Without you, our attendance at the Rhythms of One World Festival and World Choir Games would not have been possible. We share our achievements with you all.

Video of highlights from World Choir Games

Enjoy watching the positive messages, energy and scale of World Choir Games
(and look out for our Kearsney boys).

Kearsney Choir are Champions

Well dear family and friends of Kearsney Choir,

Just a quick message so you can get up to speed. (More to follow as soon as possible). I temporarily stand in for Tracey, who is very much engaged. It gives me enormous pleasure to bring you this news. Our boys WON the Folklore Category. This was announced just before 6pm SA time. Our Choir scored 90 points, putting them into first place with a gold medal.

Congratulations to the boys who were "hot" in their Folklore performance last night, Bernard and the staff and all our supporters. We all celebrate with the team. How proud they must have felt watching the South African flag being raised for their achievement whilst singing the national anthem?

Bernard said the Kearsney Choir is now the last item on the Champions Concert bill this evening. They will perform their whole Folklore repertoire (about 15 minutes). The boys have rushed off from the Awards Ceremony to prepare for this concert. They will surely celebrate in song!

Thank you ALL for your support.

Nkosi Sikilel' iAfrika!

Article on World Choir Games site

Choir Proves it is Manly to Make Music

Last night’s celebration concert at the Aronoff Center featured the Orfeón Universitario Rafael Montaño choir from Venezuela and Boğaziçi Jazz Choir from Istanbul, Turkey. However, it was the Kearsney College choir from South Africa that captured the crowds’ hearts at the Aronoff Center.
Read it all...

Folklore competition performance 13 July

Programme for 14 July

Attend the Award ceremonies at 10:00 am (announcement of results for Folklore category) - 4pm in SA.
Attend the closing events starting at 7:00pm.

13 July update: Folklore competition and awards for "Religions"

The long awaited day finally dawned, the day of the Folklore Competition.  We had breakfast at 8am and left for a quick sound check at the Aranoff Centre, followed by two hours of “down time”, before heading off for lunch and then back on to the Aranoff Centre for our performance.

The boys made a large circle around the room and joined arms, while Chef spoke to them – He praised the boys and thanked them for their commitment and hard work especially whilst on tour.  Jono Deighton spoke to the boys in a quiet manner, building them up and focussing them on the performance ahead.  Sam Shabangu and Ndabenhle Shazi both gave short, quiet but inspirational speeches to the boys followed by a prayer.  They went to the stage in order to perform only to hear it being announced from the stage that there would now be a 40 minute break!  Talk about an anti-climax!
The boys sat quietly and remained focussed for the extra 40 minutes before taking the stage.  The applause started even as the boys placed their musical instruments on the stage.  The performance was characterised by an explosion of energy and pace, strong movement and animated faces.  The boys received a standing ovation after their gumboot dance which lasted for a significant time.  The boys continued their programme and were rewarded with a spontaneous standing ovation, cheers and shouts of approval.  It was an emotional experience to see the boys put so much energy into their performance. 

Upon leaving the stage they were so hyped up that they sang outside on the street, did a Kearsney war cry and lifted Chef up on their shoulders before disappearing in an instant for their first real free time in three weeks. (even though it was only an hour and a half).
Supper, then on to the prize giving for the categories completed by Thursday.  The food has been more than adequate and has been plentiful.
The prize giving was a loud and energetic affair with 7 categories being announced, including Music of the Religions.  The wait for your name to be called is agonising, not wanting to hear your name.  The boys were delighted to hear that they had reached Gold Medals and our name had not yet been called.  All too soon our name was called , Kearsney College South Africa, 82.83 percent.  Bernard and the boys were very pleased that they had improved upon their Religious Category score which was 78 percent in 2010.  Kearsney also achieved a 5th place with Tygerberg in 2nd place and Stellenberg in Championship position.

The boys were very gracious and generous in their support of other choirs at the Awards Ceremony, clapping enthusiastically and chanting “Stellies, Stellies” when they were announced winners in the Music of the Religions today.  They sang the National Anthem with gusto and celebrated with the girls after the ceremony in the square nearby our hotel.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Kearsney Choir take part in Scenic Folklore today. Best of luck team. We hope that the Choir and audience have a lot of fun.

Thanks for support

Our blog has had over 9 200 page views since we started on 22 June 2012.
We thank all our Choir supporters - family, friends and colleagues.

Programme for 13 July 2012

Morning of rehearsals.
Compete at the Champions Competition in category 22 - Scenic Folklore (4:00 pm) EDT
Attend the Award Ceremonies and the Champions Concert (7:30 pm) EDT
(Add 6 hours for SA time).

Message from Kearsney Trustee

Dear Tracey

At the age of 82 I have been forced to unravel the mysteries of being able to GOOGLE so that I can follow one of the most thrilling experiences ever. Thank you for your wonderful bulletins which I have read with great interest. This whole tour must be one of the greatest highlights in the “History of Kearsney College” Congratulations to Bernard, the Boys and the Support Staff. You have made us all extremely proud. You are winners regardless of the outcome of the last two days.

Regards “Doc Shukes”

World Choir Games: Music of the Religions - 12 July

12 July update

What a day! I am sure that there are many parents, family and friends eager to find out about today's activities, especially the Music of the Religions Category. You will have to wait until 3:30pm of today's events! (13 July).
Our beautiful rehearsal venue

We began Thursday 12th July with a breakfast at 8am and a walk to the Covenant First Presbyterian Church, where Pastor Russell Smith (a recent Masters Graduate from Stellenbosch University) graciously allowed us the "freedom” of his church building. It is a character-filled old stone building with the most beautiful and enormous stained glass windows in the sanctuary as well as arching pews and an organ that literally reaches for heaven.
(All rehearsal pics)
Sound check in the Masonic Hall for Cat 14 -
Music of the Religions
The boys practiced for an intense two and half hours before leaving for the sound check of the Music of Religions Category. We had a brisk 20 minute walk to the Masonic Hall where we literally had ten minutes on the stage to arrange our sound-check.  It is a beautiful space with the seats literally “on the stage”, the seats rise from a single level (no real stage) in an amphitheatre type arrangement. 

A quick walk to lunch and then back to the hotel for the boys to change into their Music of Religions robes and meet in the lobby of the hotel.  The boys were a little disconcerted that they had to walk through the streets of Cincinnati in their robes!  But.. they got over it!
At the performance centre we were ushered into a holding room with three other choirs who were to perform today.  Yesterday a previous round of Category 14 was held in this venue, and the remaining 5 choirs would perform today.  Eliane and I have to secure a press pass at each venue every day and are then ushered into the “Press” section.  We were even interviewed by a television reporter about what I write for my readers back home about the Games – in the newspaper for which I work!  We established ourselves in a handy photographic place, central and elevated.  We also helped get Zac into the venue as he stepped into the breach and allowed us to borrow one of his Djembe drums.  Our drum was damaged (the skin tore) after one or two rehearsals.
Kearsney's Director of Musical Performance, Bernard Kruger,
 looks happy with the performance and audience response

Bear in mind that we are only allowed 15 minutes for the routine, after which penalties are imposed.  In the line-up for the afternoon were: an Indian Choir from Cincinnati, A Chinese school choir, The Stellenberg Girls’ Choir, Howard University choir from Australia and last but not least Kearsney College.  The Chinese choir performed for 35 mins – they are a young choir with excellent tone/ pitch and completed complicated moves.  The Stellenberg Choir was technically excellent and then it was us….  The level of nervous energy amongst the “press” contingent rose dramatically at that point.  The boys gave an excellent performance which had energy and pace.  The standing ovation was spontaneous and enthusiastic.  Then from the audience came a cry, “Do it again!”  Even after the boys left the building, the audience applauded them on the street.

Aronhoff Hall, where Celebration Concert took place
The boys were given a 20 minute stop at the hotel to change into the Folklore outfit and to pack the robe and report to the Lobby of the Hilton as a meeting point.  A quick supper and then a walk to the Aronoff Centre for the Celebration Concert. The first choir was colourful and bright with the typical Latin-American movement style from Venezuela – this choir received a standing ovation.  Kearsney performed a religious programme in their robes (on top of their Folklore outfit!) and Bernard had to talk while the boys changed and presented themselves in their Folklore outfit for the next half of the programme.  They improve each time they perform the programme!  The standing ovation was long and unanimous!  It was announced that we would be selling CDs off the Arondoff property after the show and we were swomped.  The third choir from Turkey, we did not hear. Folks will be returning to the Aronoff tomorrow, in order to purchase more CDs.
(All pics from Concert)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Now is the moment of the start of the category, Music of the Religions. Very exciting and memorable. We wish our Kearsney gentlemen all the best.

Get behind the boys

Thank you for all the support of family and friends of the Kearsney Choir.
Our blog has been live since 21 June and we already have almost 8 000 page views!
Anyone experiencing problems with posting comments on our blog is welcome to email

Dear Bernard, Staff and Boys
We have watched the progress of your tour with amazement. You have been the most amazing ambassadors for our country. Your passion, dedication and energy continue evoke emotion and wonder wherever you perform. Thank you, Tracey, for the wonderful updates and photos.
Our thoughts and prayers are with you as you start the WCG. Each one of you is already a winner and we are so proud of you. All the Very best, may it be an incredible experience.
God bless and lots of love,
Doug and Jenny Beere

From Facebook:
Sending good vibrations from Hillcrest :)
Lindsay Middleton

Good luck boys. Keep the Kearsney legacy alive and go big or go home. You will come back as champions no matter what.
Francois Brooks

Carpe Diem gentlemen of the College.
Elwyn Van Den Aardweg

Good luck to the Kearsney College Choir!
The Crest Magazine

It has been a great pleasure to meet you and to share the stage with you in New York at The Rhythms of One World 2012 Festival…With warm thoughts of you and lot of encouragement; may your day be filled with joy, energy and success. BEST OF LUCK for your performance!!!! Hugs and kisses to all of you from Luxembourg.
Cristiana Maria Serena Malgarini

Messages received by email

To Bernard & the Kearsney Choir

Our thoughts & prayers are with you as you start the final count-down. We are so proud of you all. Friends of ours attended one of your concerts in New York & were so complimentary. We know that regardless of the result you will make us proud.
Tracey & Heather - thank you for keeping us updated.

Lots of love & best wishes to you all from Anton, Caroline & Chris de Beer


Dear Bernard, Bonita and Boys
Following the daily blog has been great fun, thank you Tracey! It was most distressing when my laptop had a breakdown on Sunday and I could only collect it at lunchtime on Tuesday.
I can only echo what Gary so eloquently expressed in his post and wish you all the best for the upcoming competition.
Whilst trying to google the parade in Cincinnati this morning a headline caught my eye which read, 'Police chase after young girls over stolen snacks.' So be careful whose snacks you eat boys!
Warmest regards
Philip and Lauren Bunge

Happy 18th birthday Johan Smit

Tracey, Please pass on for us.


I wish I could be with you on your 18th birthday today (a very special day for any young man). It must be an awesome feeling to know that you have turned 14 in Austria with Kearsney, 16 at MT, Fuji in Japan with Kearsney and now the ultimate, 18 yrs old in the States, again with Kearsney at the height of the WCG in Cincinnati.

May you have a blessed, wonderful and fantastic 18th birthday in America! 

Love and miss you lots and remember you are very special to us,
Mom, back home & Dad in Afghanistan.

Baie dankie vir die opofferings wat jy en mede kolegas maak om ons daagliks op hoogte te hou van al die interresante dinge wat die seuns deurmaak en ervaar.

Hier in Afghanistan is dit die hoogte punt van my werks dag om saans na die fotos te kyk en te lees van wat die vorige dag als gebeur het.

Bernard en koor,
Dis nou jul kans om al die goud huistoe te bring! Julle is die beste.
Sterkte en voorspoed met die opvoerings wat voorlê.
Vriendelike groete,
Johan Smit

11 July update

Today was a big practice day for us.  The boys met after breakfast in one of  the hotel conference rooms,which are serving as rehearsal venues for the duration of the Games, for a 2 hour rehearsal.  Bernard conducted, Bonita played, Jin-Chu organised and Eliane and I sewed - buttons on pants and seams on bags.  At 11 am we met up with Mike and Ruben, for a final drive with them,  to the Joffe's home just outside of Cincinnati.  The boys have become very fond of the gruff Russians and I suspect that the sentiment is returned.  Mike even read a little speech that he prepared wishing the boys a "first place in the Games".

Dr and Mrs Joffe are Josh Engelbrecht's great aunt and uncle, and they invited all 70 members of the choir to lunch at their beautiful estate just outside the city limits of Cincinnati.  Our welcome was a bunch of maroon balloons and a "Welcome Kearsney College Choir" message at the entrance to the drive.  We walked up the drive past their magnificent home and then surveyed the green lawn with a large white awning, tables decked out in maroon and white and beautiful, bright flower arrangements on each table.  A catering company served the boys drinks and snacks before they took their seats and were invited by Mrs Joffe to serve themselves, buffet style, from a variety of delicious dishes.  The dessert which followed was a delight to the taste buds! The photographs of the day says it all.  After lunch the boys sang Shosholoza for the Joffes and their friends who shared the meal with us. 

The highlight of the day seemed to be a visit to the 'restrooms'!  The Joffes had hired a trailer comprising of two restrooms, male and female - these were beautifully outfitted and definitely worth a stop en route back to the bus.  Thank you Dr and Mrs Joffe for a wonderful 2 hours spent with you.

The boys were complimented on their manners and the waitrons of the day expressed their desire to see the boys perform in Cincinnati over the next two days after hearing them sing Shosholoza.

We returned in time for a second two hour rehearsal, while Eliane and I went more than across town to the closest music shop (a round trip of 3 hours) to buy two sets of drumsticks for the choir.  I do not understand why these type of shops have not been given an opportunity to establish stores at the World Choir Games Centre.

Then on to the next meal at the WCG Centre, a large building with round tables and chairs and various stations where one can serve food and also serve drinks.  The meals have been most satisfactory with enough of it to satisfy 64 eternally hungry lads.  The choir then set off to a nearby church for an evening rehearsal, while I made my way back to the hotel to get my daily diary and photographs up to date relatively early in the evening.

See the rest of the day's photographs.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Big days of the tour ahead

Thursday, 12 July – World Choir Games

Rehearsal for category 14 (12:00 pm)

Competition performance in Category 14 Music of the Religions (3:00 pm)

Stage rehearsal for category 22 (6:00 pm)

Friday, July 13, 2012 – Continuation of World Choir Games

Morning of rehearsal.

Compete at the
Champions Competition in Category 22 – Folklore (4:00 pm)

Award ceremonies and the Champions Concert (7:30 pm)

Tomorrow we compete in Music of the Religions

Performance at United Nations General Assembly Hall - 30 June 2012
Thanks for all the good wishes from friends and family of the Choir.

Time in Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Message from some Kearsney grandparents

Kearsney Kollege-koor, ons wil julle alle sukses met hulle deelname aan die kompetisie toewens – mag julle heel bo eindig in die afdelings waarin julle kompeteer!  

Baie dankie vir die daaglikse verslag oor die jong manne se bedrywighede. Ons geniet dit om te lees en te sien hoe hulle die toer geniet.  
Groete van Jan en Tertia van Aswegen.
(Trotse Oupa en Ouma van Ruben en oud-koorlid Benjamin)

(It is lovely to have a message in Bernard and Bonita's first language:) )
Thanks for the good wishes Mr and Mrs van Aswegen

World Choir Games parade, Cincinnati 10 July

10 July update - the parade at World Choir Games, Cincinnati

We set off from the Sleep Inn at 8:30am this morning on our last 5 hour bus journey which would finally take us to Cincinnati.  The boys slept and roused themselves when we had a rest stop of 20 minutes halfway into the trip.  The countryside is very green with dense bush along the highways, also kilometre upon kilometre of 2m high walls which, along with the greenery, acts to combat noise pollution.

We had lunch at a quaint restaurant called Great Scott just 20 minutes from Cincinnati.  We had a choice of beef sandwiches and chips or veggie wraps and a salad.  The boys ate their fill and then sang for the staff in appreciation.

We arrived in Cincinnati, going through a little of Kentucky state to get there, making that our 8th state that we have visited in the USA, not including Washington DC in the last 2 weeks.  We have driven through or stayed in the following states on our journey to the World Choir Games; New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington DC, Virginia, West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky. 

The Hilton Hotel where we are staying is just a block from the convention centre which houses the heart of the World Choir Games - everything is within walking distance and we are to bid farewell to our two bus drivers tomorrow as they return to New York.

We met our volunteer leaders and were assigned our rooms.  The other unwitting guests at the Hilton have seen their quiet, pristine haven flooded with choirs from all four corners of the globe, many of them school-going age.  A quick change and then it was off to the Convention centre for a parade through the streets of Cincinnati.  It was something akin to the Comrades Marathon with the (much shorter) route lined with people in deck chairs, standing many deep waving miniature flags.  The boys were in their element and performed for the crowd – running in single file, performing their gumboot routine, singing Shosholoza with the crowd clapping along and hi-fiving the boys as they ran past.  All the choirs for the second week of competition congregated in a single venue around a large fountain and were addressed by the dignitaries of the city, sponsors and Inter-Kultuur.  The boys were soon socialising and swopping cell phone numbers. 
Mark Keal in poster and in person!
As we walked through the city we noticed how many Choir Games advertisements featured the Kearsney Choir - Greg Keal, KG Segole, Troy Meaker,  Eric Sukude, Chris Kotze to mention but a few. Also on the feature video which we watched in the square was Ben van Aswegan and later on tv in our room Mini Bhengu.  We have been given wonderful exposure.  On that note I would like to congratulate the Stellenbosch Choir on their two Olympic titles and the distinction of earning the highest marks ever at any World Choir Games (97%) - in that choir is Kearsney old boy Christiaan Kotze.  Well done Chris we are so proud of you!
Read about it.
We met in the hotel lobby for instructions for tomorrow and a talk about the importance of this week in our final preparation.  The boys are to sleep early, protect their voices (most are over the laryngitis which plagued them in the first week or so of our trip) and uphold the standards of Kearsney in their appearance and behaviour – this week means business!
Apart from a few boys who needed a hair trim, some who needed throat lozengers and Greg Keal and Edwin Bunge who locked themselves out of their room and needed id to be allowed back, it will mean a relatively early night.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Message for Kearsney Choir team

To Bernard, staff and boys

As you head into the serious business end of your tour, we would just like to send you very sincere wishes for the World Choir Games. Following your tour every day on the blog (I only log on twenty times a day) has been such a pleasure as we have witnessed this amazing opportunity unfold. Our very sincere hope is that you have all appreciated in the fullest possible sense this wonderful experience and that for each of you this tour will live long in your memories for many and varied wonderful reasons.

I was sharing with Evan before you left, and can now share with even greater conviction the sense I have experienced watching the preparations for this tour progress over the last year. I have been fortunately successful in school academics, played sport at all levels at school and university, have a number of university degrees and have been successful in business and I can honestly say that nothing I have done carries the real significance, deep sense of purpose, depth of teamwork, or potential positive outcome on others, as you boys have experienced being members of this very special choir - I am truly envious.

It is said a picture can paint a thousand words, but the music you perform, the way you perform it, the energy that is evidenced in every note and action, provides depth and meaning that goes beyond anything words or picture could ever achieve. Your music reaches hearts, changes minds, paints pictures, evokes joy, love and warmth, positively influences all who hear and see - what a gift. Once again I say, I know of no better statement of what is possible in our rainbow nation than this wonderful group of men - in song and movement you show what is possible when diverse men of different cultures, races, age and economic backgrounds get together with passion, love, humility, hard work and common purpose. We are exceptionally proud of you all, insanely so, and know with certainty that you have left an amazing impression on all in the USA that have had the priviledge of hearing and meeting you. Go into the WCG with excitement and passion. You have worked so hard, so get out there, perform to your awesome full potential and knock their socks off - you are winners in every possible sense.

Our prayers, love and best wishes are with you.

Carpe Diem!
Gary and Lara Knight

(Mr Knight is Chairman of our Choir Parents' Fund-faising Committee)

Message from one of our Pittsburgh hosts

You may have noticed in some of our Farewell Pittsburgh pics, the Terrible Towels...
Here is the story behind them from one of our hosts:-

We are enjoying your blog!! ---  here is a background on the Terrible Towel -- Steelers (not Pirates:) 
The Terrible Towel is a rally towel associated with the Pittsburgh Steelers, an American football team in the National Football League (NFL). Created in 1975 by then Steelers radio broadcaster Myron Cope, The Terrible Towel has spread in popularity; fans take their Towel to famous sites while on vacation. The Towel has been taken to the peak of Mount Everest, and even into space on the International Space Station. It is widely recognized as a symbol of the Steelers and the city of Pittsburgh.[1][2] Recently, the Towel has also been used by fans at Pittsburgh Penguins games.[3][4]

Proceeds from sales of the Towel have raised over US$3 million for Allegheny Valley School Pennsylvania which cares for people with mental disabilities and physical disabilities. The Terrible Towel is credited with being the first "rally towel" and its success has given rise to similar products promoting other teams.[5]

Because of the success of the Steelers and their national reputation, the black and gold "Terrible Towel" is the most famous sports rally towel in use. Numerous versions have been produced; almost all are black and gold in color with the words "Myron Cope's Official The Terrible Towel" printed on the front.

We would love to see a picture of the boys waving Terrible Towels after you win at the games :) 
Thanks again and travel safe --- Barb

The boys showing off their towels before leaving Pittsburgh

Two days to competition - World Choir Games

Please send messages to the boys and staff.
Messages will be passed on to the boys by staff if they are not able to read themselves.
Let's get behind our "team"!

Message from one of our mums:

Tracey, I truly appreciate the daily news on the choir blog. Dont know where you get the energy to write an update after a  long, hot, busy day.

Thanks for being a mother for our sons! Ek dink my seun het al vergeet dat hy n ma by die huis het. Ek is seker al die ma s mis hulle seuns teen die tyd baie.

Good luck to Bernard and the boys for the choir games in Cincinatti!

Susan Smit

Cedar Point - 9 July

9 July update - Cedar Point

We travelled from Charleston to Cedar Point this morning. We said farewell to our host families who were most complimentary of our boys' behaviour. I think we almost take this aspect of our boys’ upbringing for granted as the comments we have received from the host parents have been overwhelmingly positive in terms of their manners and behaviour.  The river rafting guide also commented that he has never had such a respectful group of boys on the river. “They sing so good because they behave so good”!!
We had a 5 hour bus trip today with two rest stops or “comfort breaks” as they are called here.  The boys slept and chatted on and off about their experiences over the last couple of days whilst being hosted.  Mostly about “girl issues” and toilet issues! Amazing what boys will share whilst travelling on a bus!!
The rides of the Cedar Point amusement park could be seen from some distance away and the atmosphere on the bus was fairly humming, with the boys standing in their seats to see what level of excitement their immediate future held for them.  Judging by the height of some of those rides you can only imagine the level of excitement.  As the mother of the group I tried hard to caution them, but to no avail!  The bus doors opened, they received their tickets and meal vouchers and they were off!
I made the “sacrifice” to photograph reactions instead of ride today – saving my body severe physical and emotional trauma in the process.  You will be able to view some of the reactions to the Dragster in particular in the photographs I have posted; a 20 second ride that takes one on a twisting vertical journey up and then a twisting vertical journey down.  The whole dictionary of emotions that crossed the faces of those waiting to ride and be blasted off from 0 to 135 miles per hour in a few seconds was an education – the G forces do amazing things to ones face!  Prayers, tears and one poor soul even vomited BEFORE the ride.  One of our boys was seated in the front of the carriage and was calmly smiling and telling the boys shouting encouragement from the side-lines, ”I have got this”, then face the ride and mouth “Oh F…k!” The adrenaline high after the ride was equally as amusing to watch – fist pumping, whooping and a flood of words all ending with exclamation marks – “Wow!, Awesome!” etc…

We met at the busses after a 5 hour stay at the park and headed off to our supper venue, TGI Friday, a restaurant that boasts “here it is always Friday”.  We had a lovely pre-arranged meal of sandwiches, spicy chicken wings and potato skins with sour cream, followed by an amazing cheesecake.  We were given the privacy of the whole upper floor and the boys also sat outside on the deck overlooking the lake enjoying the cool of the evening.
We made our way to our hotel – Sleep Inn (we wish!) and found our rooms amidst much excitement, for, across the street was a WALMART!! The boys dumped their bags and were off for the second time today with the warning to look “Left then right” before crossing the road.  The boys are all tired but happy after a day with much activity and adrenaline – the next time we will feel something similar will be in Cincinnati.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Sunday, 8 July update

We set off from the collection point at the University for a day spent on the water, experiencing some white water rafting.  The bus drive took about an hour by which time the heat had set in.  Sun tan lotion was liberally but not evenly applied as was revealed later on in the day!  Indemnity forms were strictly filled in and a head count of those who were going down the river taken.  A group of 12 boys did not participate and I stayed behind in order to "supervise" them according to regulations.  So unfortunately I do not have the details of the day spent on the river, suffice to say they had enormous fun and that it was safe even for the boys who are not too confident in the water.  The day was videoed by the rafting company and raw footage is to be provided to Eliane who is documenting our trip in video footage.  All shall be revealed, in due course.

After white water rafting, boys still had energy to play on the inflatables


After a day in the sun with a great amount of physical activity, the people on the bus lapsed into silence after only a few minutes on the road.  We went to a local church where Selena, the conductor and founder of the Appalachian Childrens' Chorous, had prepared a feast for us.  Self-build hamburgers, homemade potato salad, baked beans and lettuce, tomato and cheese.  For pudding there was homemade choc chip and cranberry cookies and sliced watermelon.  A lively game of basketball ensued upstairs while a duel for the title of "Hamburger King" began downstairs.  Jordan Meaker managed to put away 4 hamburgers plus the other salads.  Shazi immediately rose to the challenge as did Chef ?!

The boys were picked up by their host families and the staff returned to their hotel to find it in total darkness which meant no air-conditioners!  Yin-Chu immediately found us other rooms  at a nearby Holiday Inn - a very good move!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

7 July update

A long hot day…Temperatures rose to 38 degrees C as we drove across the countryside to West Virginia from Pittsburgh. Green, rolling hills and even a few little deer along the side of the road. Of course the boys did not see any of this as they spent the entire bus trip in a near unconscious state.

The boys loved being with their host families in Pittsburgh and even asked why we could not stay another two days! I am sure the very hospitable Pittsburgh families would have balked at the idea, especially as one family hosted 9 boys. Linda, the “house mom” of the 9 boys organised a cook-out for the boys after the concert last night, then she tackled the boys’ washing and then she started on the breakfast feast which the boys enjoyed this morning. While the moms were slaving away, the boys spent the night chatting away!

In the parking lot of the Methodist church which was our meeting point this morning, there were offers of daughters’ hands in marriage and open-ended invitations for future visits, baseball memorabilia was handed out to the boys of the local baseball team (Pirates), and there were many positive comments on the boys’ behaviour.

The boys were raised, briefly, from their slumber for an hour shopping experience at an outlet mall. Brand name goods at factory prices. The boys moved from shop to shop in a blur and arrived back at the bus laden with bags. Soon the euphoria of the various shopping bargains wore off and hunger took over. We stopped at the Burger King for a quick take-away lunch. The Burger King was a pleasant surprise, they took 70 orders in their stride and we were all done within 40 minutes. All dietary requirements were catered for and 70 happy tummies boarded the bus once again for the second leg of the journey which would bring us to Charleston. The rumble of the bus engine, the heat, the full tummies, and the satisfactory shopping experience combined with the lack of sleep of the previous two nights produced two very quiet busses within ten minutes of hitting the road for the next two and a half hours.

Our companions of the journey, Jin-Chu Jou and Eliane Sussman are wonderful with the boys at once fun and responsible. Jin Chu travels on Bus A and Eliane on Bus B – they organise the smooth flow of the tour and inform the boys what is happening (especially relating to food, shopping and concerts – probably in that order!) and get them where they need to go.

We arrived at the theatre rather late, but well rested! The air-conditioned interior was a welcome respite from the blazing heat outdoors. The concert tonight is our last full concert before the competition of the World Choir Games in Cincinnati. The audience at the Pittsburgh concert were most generous with the purchase of Kearsney CDs and many made donations to the choir tour – we thank them and greatly appreciate their generosity and enthusiasm.

The concert took place with many "crinkled boys" as we did not have the time or opportunity to press their costumes - I am really missing your help in this department Karen! They did, however, enjoy themselves onstage and joined with the Appalachian Children's Chorus for the final two songs which were those that they sang at the Rhythms of One World Concert at the UN.

Appalachian Children's Chorus

Afterwards the boys were served supper at the theatre and were treated to an hour or so of Square Dancing during which time they became friends with their dancing partners.

Tristan Dixon gets the Hang of sqaure dancing

We really miss Rob and Karen Easton-Berry's and Ewlyn's presence with the group. Rob and Karen should be home already and Elwyn leaves the USA tomorrow (8th).

Square Dancing after concert - 7 July

Concert in Charleston

Farewell Pittsburgh

Warhol Museum and lunch

Kayaking in Pittsburgh

Time with Eastern Area Youth Choral Group

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Chatham University, Pittsburgh

6 July update

We met the boys at 8am at a local Methodist Church.  The boys were all animated about their overnight stay with their hosts and reported positively on the experience.  Some staying up until 2am talking to their host’s daughter!

We arrived at the venue for the Kayaking – on the banks of a wide, slow flowing river in incredible heat. Only 35 boys were able to kayak and they were soon decked out in life-jackets and a paddle.  Shazi brandishing his paddle like a spear.  A quick lesson and the boys set off on a 45 minute paddle up the river and a 45 minute return journey.  There was no ‘white water’ so all boys felt safe and secure on their journey.  The balance of the group was given free time for an hour and a half.
We discovered Andy Warhol’s museum ( where we found the following quote, “In the future everybody will be famous for 15 minutes” – Andy Warhol.  We wondered if it would be possible for us to choose the timing of our 15 minutes of fame…..  The boys returned from their calm trip up the river – Brendon Cooper powering about 4 kayaks whilst the occupants rested and suntanned.

We then headed off for an hour of shopping before lunch at an Italian Restaurant. The shopping centre was quaint with unique type of stores – the one which created the most interest was the artist who drew caricatures whilst you sit.  Kimi Naidu had a wonderful likeness of himself done.
We crossed the road to the Italian Restaurant, the décor created wonderful atmosphere.  There were black and white pictures adorning the walls with a room devoted entirely to the Pope.  There was even a “miniature” Sistine Chapel ceiling and a bust of the Pope on a lazy Susan in the middle of the table.  The Chef baked us all fresh choc chip cookies straight from the oven and in appreciation the boys sang them Shosholoza.
Then it was on to Chatham University – a wonderful community of old buildings – for a rehearsal for tonight’s concert with the Eastern Area Youth Chorale.  We spent a couple of hours rehearsing and then were ready for our performance.  It was still incredibly warm, even though it was 7:30pm.
We shared the concert and performed our Choral and Religious Sections first and were overcome with the cd sales during interval.  Then did our Pop-Choral and Scenic Folklore – all to standing ovations.  The boys then left the venue with their host families.
We would like to thank the Pittsburgh families who so graciously hosted our boys, fed them, washed their clothes and transported them to their various venues.  We do appreciate your efforts.  The boys have thoroughly enjoyed their experience.