THE call of the wild, bird sounds, the beat of the African drum and soothing recorder sounds that would surely have given the Pied Piper of Hamelin a run for his money filled the Miriam Makeba Centre of Performing Arts on Saturday night when 38 young musicians gathered to celebrate the France-South Africa Seasons through a music concert called the French Carnival.
When one imagines classical music you think of the heart-wrenching sounds of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, or the sounds that made Bach, Mozart and Beethoven famous for centuries… little do we think about the French greats.
These include Claude Debussy who influenced so many classical musicians with his deep meaningful songs, Charles Camille Saint-Saëns, the Parisian-born composer and artist best known for his Carnival of Animals and of course Maurice Ravel, who, following the lead of masters such as Debussy, wrote toe-tapping classical music.
When the Keiskamma Music Academy decided to hold the French Carnival in celebration of the France-South Africa Seasons that had finally come to South Africa after many years of holding mutual seasons (multifaceted bilateral collaborations) with countries such as India, Japan, Russia and other overseas countries, little did we know that the Eastern Cape province would hold a meaningful celebration of such an event.
For the first time since the seasons came to South Africa, the Eastern Cape had finally received its chance to contribute towards this extraordinary international event.
A group of 38 children aged between nine and 17 belonging to Hamburg’s Keiskamma School of the Arts, under the instructions of their music director, Jen Hoyer, gathered at the Miriam Makeba Centre for the Performing Arts on Saturday night to celebrate French music and play their role in celebrating French culture. The celebration concert started with the sounds of the recorder, where the first solo lead of the night was taken by young Lihle Matshonisa.
Even the youngest boys and girls carried more than their weight in musical instruments and played their hearts out.
The highlight of the hour-long concert was when the children played Saint- Saëns’s Carnival of Animals.
Bird sounds filled the hall, as one after another the children used their instruments to convey the language of the birds. The boys and girls used their skills to emit any sound they wanted from their recorders and trumpets.
The African sound of the drum was not left behind. After all, the French Seasons was in South Africa. Accompanied by the piano, the marimba and the great bass, French songs were remixed in a uniquely African way.
Dressed only in their faded blue jeans and black tops, it is easy to underestimate these young musicians . Just for the record , Keiskamma Music Academy students are known for performing at this year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, where they received a Standard Bank Ovation Award for excellence in music education. And, after countless standing ovations, it became clear why the young artists deserved it.
The Keiskamma Trust is a community organisation centred in Hamburg, a rural part of the Eastern Cape, which strives to address the challenges of widespread poverty and disease through holistic and creative programmes.
Pupils from the trust’s Keiskamma Music Academy are performing at four concerts around the Eastern Cape, starting last Saturday at the Miriam Makeba Centre for Performing Arts.
The next performance was given the following day at the Port Alfred Presbyterian Church, Port Alfred. The next performance will take place at the Hamburg Historic Old Hall on November 23, and the last performance will be in the Main Auditorium at NMMU’s South Campus in Port Elizabeth on November 24 .
The music they played can only be described as sincere and coming from deep within, as the young maestros bobbed their heads and tapped their feet to the sounds of the recorders, marimbas, piano, elephant horns, trumpets, and great bass as they played arrangements from Ravel’s Ma Mère l’Oye.
The France-South Africa Seasons 2012 and 2013 is an initiative conceived and facilitated by both governments to give the people of both countries an opportunity to understand each other better through cultural, scientific, sport, education and business engagement.
The Seasons comprise more than 100 exhibitions, performances, film screenings, literary events, workshops, conferences and round tables that have already been seen in the other provinces.
The French Seasons in South Africa will next year be reciprocated with a South African season in France, where the French will celebrate South African culture, art and dance in their own country.
Article source: http://www.dispatch.co.za/11271/