This year’s Universiteite Ser (National Serenade Competition) saw the champions of Tuks, Kovsies, Maties, Pukke and UJ fight for glory at various venues at the Universityof Pretoria. However, the final male and female honours went to theUniversityof Johannesburg’s Annirand (female res) and Afslaan (male res). In second place were Pukke (Patria) and Tuks (Zeus Ladies). Third place went to Kovsies (Marjolein) and Maties (Wilgenhof).

The event began with a welcoming dinner held on 2 September on the grass in front of the Aula, where the participants were introduced to the Tuks campus and allowed to mingle with the enemy. Entertainment was provided by the UP Symphony Orchestra and Allan John. Although competitors were advised against partying too hard, the wine flowed and a few became friendly, giving a sneak peek of some of the songs to be performed the following night.

But it all came down to the following night where the residences performed at the Musaion in front of an all-star panel of judges. When asked what the judges were looking for, experienced judge Michael Barrett (of Drakensberg Boys’ Choir fame) said, “Musicality, spontaneity, energy and an overall good performance.” But it was not going to be easy, because Barrett added, “[The standard of competition] is one of the best we’ve had in a long time.”

The evening kicked off with Kovsies men’s Vishuis entertaining the crowds dressed as knights breaking into Queen and Beatles medleys, much to the crowd’s delight. Their effort was followed by Tuks’s very own Zeus Ladies. “We’ve changed some choreography and a line or two,” said Zeus’s Loane Ledwadu about their preparation. “We haven’t seen any of the other teams but I’m sure they are up to standard.” The ladies did us proud by coming third in the own composition category and second overall.

UJ men’s Afslaan returned to nationals this year with their postman theme. “The minor jobs are often overlooked,” said UJ participant Sifiso Masemloa about their theme. “It was easy and the songs linked well.” The judges and the crowds seemed to agree that these postmen delivered, as Aflsaan walked away with not only first place overall, but also with best prescribed song and best own composition.

Next were the Maties ladies of Nerina breaking onto stage as jailbirds. The ladies jumped back and forth between generations with songs such as Green Day’s “21 Guns” and Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock” and earned fourth place for best prescribed songs. The crowd was then treated to the airhostesses of UJ’s Annirand. “We want to take people on a musical flight,” said UJ’s Jessica Daylon. And so they did. There was something for everybody as Annirand combined traditional serenade with unique African and gospel flavours. This move took off with the judges, because the ladies scooped first prize for prescribed songs, own composition and overall performance.

Boekenhout did Tuks proud with their Eskimo theme (complete with ginger fire). “We heard a lot about Afslaan and Wilgenhof,” said Boekenhout’s Pieter van der Westhuizen, showing that they are not the only ones on the map. The boys ended up in second place for prescribed songs and in fourth place for own composition and overall performance.

The performances were concluded by the ever loud ladies of Marjolein from Kovsies with their Greek theme. These Greek ladies kicked it old school and walked away with third place in prescribed songs and a first for own composition for “Melodie van die see”.

All in all, the competition was tight. However, the night belonged to UJ for winning both the men’s and women’s competitions. “It feels great to win Ser,” said Lwando Sirenya, Afslaan’s Serrie HK. “We had fun on stage and we really engaged with the crowd,” he added. Stuku represented the university well. Competitors from around the country expressed their appreciation for the organisation and the beauty of the campus. If you missed all performances at The Hub, the Aula and the Musaion, DVDs will be on sale soon.

Photo: Stephen Keet

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