Thursday, April 17, 2008

Honors Choir of South Africa Performing at the Historic First Baptist Church - Sunday April 6

Earlier this month, on Sunday, April 6, a unique cultural event took place in Norfolk that didn’t receive much, if any media attention that I am aware of. The 24 youth (12 boys/12 girls) Honors Choir of South Africa performed at the Historic First Baptist Church on Bute Street in Norfolk. This choir, representing some of the most talented youth from South Africa’s high schools, has begun a brief tour of America, what is known as the Ubungane Tour. Their overall, international sponsor is the International Children's Outreach Ministry, while many other sponsors have contributed locally. The choir was headed to Brooklyn next after their performance here.

It was almost a full house at this beautiful old church with a large balcony, so there must have been at least 500 people there by my estimate, maybe more. The choir performed three exciting sets, the first one with the choir dressed in uniform attire reflecting the South African Nation's official colors, green, blue, red, yellow and white, a set in which they sang traditional African chants and songs with religious themes.

The second set saw them return in tribal costumes of South Africa, to sing and dance three powerful songs associated with play, weddings and courtship, very vigorous and exciting, the dances displaying colorful ceremony, powerful rhythms enhanced by drumming, and some very dynamic, at times lighting fast, movement.

During both intermissions, I might add, soloists from the church’s musical talents performed rousing gospel numbers to standing ovations.

For their third set, the Youth Choir returned in black gowns and suits formal enough for the New York Met to display their musical versatility. They sang various Opera arias and chorus pieces, finally ending with the South African National Anthem, while the audience went wild once again, giving them a lengthy standing ovation.

My small camera was rather challenged, with only an average zoom, to get good shots. Lighting was not very high, so when I took shots of the dancing, the lens, which had to stay open longer to capture enough light, was not shutting fast enough to prevent some blurring of motion, so some of the photos of the dancing are blurred. Consider this special effects.

Enjoy the photos. I have more if anyone is interested. Some of you may want to contact the Historic First Baptist Church at 622-6701 about DVD's, CD's, future events and tours. Some of you might consider jumping on the sponsorship bandwagon, truly a worthy cause.

The Choir did various religious, African songs popular in South Africa, such as Shosholoza (Song Sang in Bondage), Vuma Nawe (Believe), KaeleKae (Anywhere with Jesus). They would act out some songs.

They finished the first set with We Shall Overcome.

For the second set they came back in tribal costumes to do three sung and danced African melodies in a medley.

The first dance song was Idani re Tambe (Come let's Play).

The dancing got faster and faster.

I think this is where the second dance began. It is called Tihomu (Wedding Song).

For the third set, they came back in formal attire to do Italian and other opera arias and choruses. Tremendous versatility!

A quintet doing Non v'e pui tempo & Di Scrivemo.

The choir ended with a powerfully felt rendition of the South African National Anthem.


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