Kathryn van den Berg

The name change from KleinSêr to SU Acapella is not the only adjustment to the much-loved vocal entertainment competition this season, and the results of the preliminary rounds have aroused much controversy on campus.

What has many sêr-goers concerned with the future of the competition is the realisation that, after the preliminary round, no Private Student Organisation (PSO) made it through to the semi-finals. This decision left many contestants curious about possible favouring of residence ensembles within the judging panel and the KuKo organisers of the competition.

Dina-Mari Geldenhuys, the culture HK for Aristea and third-time competitor in the competition, said that “from my viewpoint, as the head of culture in a PSO that spent nine hours a week rehearsing, it is extremely disappointing that we did not go through to the next round”.

“Most PSOs also do not have the legacy that some residences have, which make them ‘underdogs’ in a competition such as SU Acapella,” added Geldenhuys.

An organiser and participant in the Oude Molen ensemble, who would like to remain anonymous, said that “although I don’t know much about the judging process, I believe that there should be a separate division in the competition for PSOs.”

This, he believes, will ensure fairness in the competition and guarantee a position for PSOs in the final rounds of SU Acapella.

Van Wyk Venter, coach and co-leader of the Metanoia men’s Acappella group, opposes the suggestion of separating the PSOs and Residences. Venter is also a member of the Musicultus executive committee, and assisted KuKo in the application of the plans for the competition.

He believes that “creating separation is not a good idea. SU Acapella is aimed at an inclusive environment on campus for all students in the competition, not to isolate the PSOs and the residences.”

In terms of the future of SU Acapella, the goal is inclusivity.

“This goal [inclusivity] is so that we can ultimately create a competition which can compete with international groups; the competition will then really be on a professional level,” explained Venter.

Blaine Josephs, chairperson of KuKo, along with Katya Zoyo, vice-chairperson and chairperson of SU’s Musicultus, stressed the point that the new Acapella competition is aimed at being more inclusive and transparent.

When asked about the judging process, name change and new set of guidelines for the ensembles, Josephs assured that nothing is kept secret. The reason for this is that the pervious KleinSêr competition fell apart, with the University of Pretoria and North-West University cancelling, as well as conflicts with sponsors, it was the responsibility of KuKo to “rebuild the competition” more independently, explained Jospehs.

He also stressed that “the judging is completely neutral. KuKo merely runs the event. Everything else is external.”

KuKo further reassures students that PSOs did in fact make it to the semi-finals. As was stated in the guidelines of the new competition, PSOs and Residences can combine efforts and “perform under the name of either PSO or Res, with the ensemble being named after whichever party has the most members.”

Equite PSO joined efforts with Erica residence and made it through to the next round. They performed under the name of the residence because the majority of members came from Erica.

“The judges do not know which ensemble represents a res and which a PSO,” said Josephs.

KuKo is confident that, had they been approached with concerns about the fairness of the competition, they could assure students that SU Acapella is judged neutrally and without bias. “I am more than willing to have conversations with the public to eliminate controversy and discomfort going forward,” said Josephs.