Last year the Mzansi Youth Choir reached new heights when they headlined the Aarhus Vocal Festival (AAVF), Europe’s largest contemporary vocal festival. This year, continuing from that success, the choir performs at the Festival for the first time.
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Olivier Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time is a moving work that demands respect from performers and listeners alike. The complete dedication of violinist Samson Diamond, clarinettist Allan Thompson, pianist Anna Wilshire Jones and cellist Wessel Beukes in performing this awe-inspiring work made for a moving experience.
A great gospel music performance at the Rhodes Chapel by four young people; two ladies and two men. The audience nodding their heads showed a love of gospel. The smooth, deep voice creaming up the whole band made me feel spiritually uplifted.
Joy – an extravagant surge that carries with it a sense of eternal surety. It also filled the sanctuary of the Trinity Presbyterian Church during the Gospel Africa Concert.
It was late to start, but the excitedly expectant crowd seemed to forget the 10-minute delay when music group Still 4 Ever exploded on to the stage with a swinging jazz intro. This talented group of young musicians from Grahamstown, directed by Tatenda Mhunduru, presented a fusion of hip hop, rap, traditional gospel choir music and jazz to usher in a new standard of excellence at this year’s festival.
Mhunduru promised before the concert that the Gospel Africa Concert wouldn’t have the “quiet church service type of atmosphere”. And it came to pass.
Do not expect to stay in your seat during the performance. Mhunduru invites the audience to join in the infectiously energetic explosion of praise, not unlike a charismatic preacher.
Still 4 Ever was joined by the versatile voice of guest artist Mercy Ndlovu for a soulfully jazzed-up rendition of the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness, as well as Harare-based duo Heaven’s Language, who work in the American rap genre.
Not even the few sound glitches could dampen the mood of the enthusiastic audience. Voice of Glory, the evergreen Rhodes University student choir, did not disappoint its affectionate fans. The audience was kept on its feet by rousing performances, which included Kgosi Ratshefola singing You Are Faithful; Omphemetse Ndlovu’s Mmele, Pelo le Moya; a duet comprising Sivuyise Mfenyane and Precious Fatyela performing Sanctuary and choir director
Kgothatso Sethole singing Jehovah is Your Name.
Technical director Matthew Adendorff says the concert is about showcasing the performing Christian arts, not just gospel music.
“It’s also about trying to make it accessible to everyone,” he says.
This is not a show. It is an interactive, intercultural, interdenominational, spontaneous praise experience not to be missed. Gospel Africa, says Sethole, is about celebrating gospel music and making people aware of Christian artistry. “We are here to reveal the face of God,” says Sethole. And what a vibrantly, joyful, smiling face that is.
THE Spirit Festival (Spiritfest) that runs concurrently with the National Arts Festival celebrates the many shades of religious artistry including choral shows, theatre performances, national gospel stars and lecture series. According to Spiritfest Director and co-ordinator Joy Tandy, the Spiritfest, known as Stillpoint until three years ago, is predominantly a Christian oriented faith celebration. Tandy said “the Spiritfest is not exclusively Christian” but is welcome to any individual or religious group. Spiritfest is a fringe event and people who register to perform receive advertising privilege from the National Arts Festival through its website and media offices. Tandy said individuals and groups also promote their own shows and performances in their personal capacity.
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