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Singing with the Choir

2008-03-07 10:56
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For a start, there’s nothing anonymous about the stars of this show. Some of South Africa’s leading lights of the 80s and 90s headlined with Wendy Oldfield (still gorgeous, by the way) conducting and Neo Muyanga consulting, arranging, and collaborating on composition. More about that later. The artists chose songs in keeping with the reconciliation and South African pride themes and each did two numbers - but not one after the other, so you never knew who you would see next.

The challenge of rehearsing with the choir seemed to have given old songs new life. Or maybe it was the power of all those voices backing the soloists with the discipline of a trance state that did it. Whatever the causes, the Parlotones’ "Colourful" took on new shades. Karen Zoid was a blonde African rock Diva doing "Aeroplane Jane". Selaelo Seloto’s "Trrr Pah!" had new humour and punch, even for those of us who’ve heard it done to death. The highlight was discovering deeply beautiful Afro-pop songbird Siphokazi. People were moved to tears by her songs – songs that not only could only come from our country, but also seemed could only come from her.
The sun gradually set. The kids played. The shadows of massive Table Mountain’s forested slopes fell over the picnic fields.

Shortly after the German tourists left in their droves at 6.30pm sharp - weaving their way to their buses and taxis - the allstars all came back onstage for the final number, composed specially for the event by Neo and Wendy. Perhaps on its own, it might have faded. But after all the lump-in-the-throat laughing moments of a sunset that seemed too short, it was a magic way to end the day. People rose and waved their arms and danced the last bit of Sunday away.

- Jean Barker
If you’re in Jo’burg, don’t miss this gig at Emmarentia Dam Botanical Gardens on Saturday 8th March. Really don’t.

Choral encounters sounds like something you’d send tourists to. Tourists dig swigging chenin blanc while wearing shorts and socks, and filming African gospel choirs on their handycams. But that’s what Greenmarket Square is for. Old Mutual Encounters at Kirstenbosh Gardens was something completely different.


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