By Zander Heeger

There seems to be a growing sense of unease among South Africans that the rainbow nation is losing its glow in these days of induced polarisation. Well then, here is an inspiring example of how we can seek remedy and reconciliation, rather than just sitting on our hands and lamenting over lousy politicians.

Sing! Let the people sing. That is one resource we Africans have in rich abundance and you can kick-start this healing process by making your voice heard right here in the Scenic South.

The Quarrymen is my favourite male voice choir in the peninsula. “This is a rainbow choir, a liquorice all-sorts”, says Chairman Hans Zwets. The choir has indeed come to be regarded by many of its followers as an embodiment of the rainbow nation in harmony. Not only do they sing a mixed bag of music, but choir members are drawn from the diverse communities of the south peninsula. “We have a harmonious blend of blacks, whites and coloureds in the ranks and this offers a meaningful opportunity to interact and build goodwill and friendships with fellow South Africans of different cultures”, says Zwets.

This is truly meaningful because sharing a song in harmony with anybody is a very agreeable bonding experience and you will find that you have much more in common than you think. In these discordant days of racial sabre rattling by malevolent loudmouths, singing is an excellent tonic and remedy to stem the tide and unify the nation. People who are able to sing together in harmony are more likely to work and live together in harmony. Consider: here we have a bunch of whities lustily singing songs in Zulu and Xhosa and, conversely, black men singing Sarie Marais and Welsh rugby songs. What a treat!

Choral singing is a highly disciplined and creative team activity. Harmonising with others fills one with a renewed sense of promise and optimism. In the rehearsal hall, every voice offers something invaluable to the whole. Simply put, singing is good for the soul. You will meet and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with kindred spirits who all share a fundamental love of music and singing.

The Quarrymen male voice choir was established in 2007 and is based at the Glencairn quarry where they practice every Thursday evening.

So, if you want to sing and make a difference, come and dig in with the Quarrymen. Phone Chairman Hans Zwets on 083 222 9111 to sound him out.

Zander Heeger is a free-lance writer and ardent admirer of The Quarrymen.

The photographs show:

Chairman Hans Zwets in concert with fellow Quarrymen

Glencairn quarry, home of the Quarrymen Male Choir

Singing for dummies

To join the Quarrymen, you don’t need to have a trained voice or be able to read music. Bonus if you can, but it’s no problem if you’ve never sung in a choir. Don’t be intimidated. If you can keep a note reasonably steady, come along. Attend one of the Quarrymen’s choir practices as an observer and decide if you like what you hear. If you do, Winsome (the gentle musical director) will run through a simple scale exercise to determine your voice group (tenor, baritone or bass), and Pavarotti Bob’s your uncle!

The induction process for new members is gradual and painless. But it is also thorough because the Quarrymen is a competent group of singers and once you’ve learnt the voice parts and gained some confidence singing, it is pure pleasure and fun. As one quarry quip goes: We don’t sing because we’re happy; we’re happy because we sing.

Fun characters

The Quarrymen have a number of interesting characters in their ranks. One such is the dignified architect, mountain goat and aspirant limerick writer John Newton, who penned the following gem:

The new baritone sang bass in error

He awaited a rebuke in some terror

In his back came a prod

That so unsettled the sod

He ended by singing high tenor

See also

and for more about chiors and cultural groups in the Scenic South see