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Creative Code – an inspiring afternoon at Ikamva Youth Makhaza Township. Cape Town

Public Speaking and Presentation Workshop: “Creative Coders” Preparing the “Creative Coders” from Ikamva Youth. I spent a great afternoon at one of Cpae Town’s most successful community education projects, Ikamva Youth, by presenting a workshop in public speaking: helping by coaching the speakers – refining the pitch, presentation and public speaking – in preparation for […]

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Public Speaking and Presentation Workshop: “Creative Coders”

Preparing the “Creative Coders” from Ikamva Youth.
I spent a great afternoon at one of Cpae Town’s most successful community education projects, Ikamva Youth, by presenting a workshop in public speaking: helping by coaching the speakers – refining the pitch, presentation and public speaking – in preparation for their pitch for funding from World Design Capital Cape Town 2014.

Countdown to the presentation on 27 May at the Pavilion Clocktower Conference Center, V&A Waterfront.

Participants: Marion Walton, Albert Combrink, Zukile Keswa and learners

Inspiring young people. Insipring Ideas. Inspiring dreams. Inspiring Lives.

Please visit Creative Code‘ Facebook page and support their activities.
Please visit the IkamvaYouth SA Facebook page and support them.
Also visit the Ikamva Website here: http://ikamvayouth.org/

Follow Dr. Marion Walton from the University of Cape Town

Paying it forward because I can not pay it back.

Here is an excerpt of the final rehearsal of the Funding Pitch:

 

Find out more about the project and how this video came about:

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 1

Ikamva Lisezandleni Zethu is a South African non-profit organization focussed on the empowerment of youth through education, e-literacy training and career guidance.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 2

The lab urgently needs some curtains or blinds. The lighting makes it very hard to see the screen – very important when teaching computer skills! Note the portable projector propped up on a discarded Chips carton.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 3

The sense of humour, excitement and fun are immediately apparent. Serious learning occurs here – note the older volunteer tutors in the back row helping the younger learners. I notice no “discipline” issues or inattentive learners – a topic much debated amongest educators in all the schools i which I have worked.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 10 (1)
Always time for a smile! Even in these cramped quarters, with space- and time-allocation issues with the next door library always arising, the learners were genuinely enthusiastic about the subject content and are learning really valuable skills.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 4 (1b)
Petrol-bombed in 2011, this insipiring mural reflects the passion and dedication of a small but brave project.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 4 (1c)
A hub of activity as schoolchildren come to study, get tutoring, work together in groups. Such a tiny little space. Filled with volunteers, willing learners, and that energy which is the future of my country.

 

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 4 (3)a
A portable data-projector propped up on a chair on a table. We are a nation of innovators. Necessity is clearly also the mother of invention. — with Marion Walton

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 4 (4)
Textbooks line the one wall. Connecting volunteers and learners is one thing. Finding and managing a dedicated space equipped with the materials for learning, is quite another.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 4
Mission statements do not come much clearer than this…

 

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 5 (1)
I made a video of the pitching-session practice and gave a quick workshop on presentation, honing the content of the pitch where I could, using my stage-experience to help the group get their message across as clearly and effectively as possible. What is humbling, is how a small intervention is so eagerly – even greedily – absorbed. More. We need to do more. Much more

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 5 (2)
Marion Walton with Zukile Keswa, branch co-ordinator for the Makhaza branch of Ikamva Youth. Refining the script and changing a word here and there can make all the difference. Zukile’s dedication and supportuve, calm nature makes him a tremendous asset in this situation. — with Marion Walton  Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 5 (3)
The four presenters of the pitch going through some final revisions before I started my work of working on the presentation aspect.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 5 (4)
Talita Maliti is a very impressive young lady. Confident and bright, responsive to and so deserving of meaningful input.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 5 (5)
Other members of the group were there to support and comment, even though they would not be part of the final presentation of the funding-pitch. There was a great atmosphere in the room.

 

 

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 5 (6)

As part of the “Creative Coders” project, Talita designed a computer-game in which her self-named character overcomes obstacles such as bullying principals and lack of access to facilities, by “eating”  books and leaping over the difficulties. There was a tender moment when we realised how much of her own life-experiences, her negative experiences but also her determination to overcome them, her dreams and aspirations were “coded” into what on the sturface appears to be a bit of frivolous computergaming children’s “e-tertainment”. See an example fo some of the pixel-based artwork HERE.

Talita Maliti is a young lady with a great future ahead of her, and she knows it and she’s going out to meet it head-on!

 

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 5 (7)
Vuyani made tremendous progress in the workshop. Understanding how language-differences and accents impact on the audience was a great lesson to learn. He was absolutely ON BOARD and worked so hard to implement the suggestions made. What a lovely young man.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 5 (8)
A member of the “Creative Coders” team, amused at something his team mates did. I could not help but notice the face peering over his shoulder: With Madiba looking on at the progress being made… Could everybody please stop TALKING about “legacy” and get on with doing what needs to be done?

 

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 6 (1)
Marion Walton doing a formidable gut-punching demonstration to show how firm your tummy muscles can be to help you with projection of your voice. Especially when you we are nervous do we need to activate those muscles. And believe me, when Dr Walton comes at you with those fists, you get mighty nervous! — with Marion Walton

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 6 (2)
I was so happy that my experience and ease with talking in front of audiences gave me something meaningful to contribute to this amazing group of people. All those singing-lessons and opera workshops and playing for school-productions has built and refined in me an entire set of additional skills which I now look at with different eyes. Thanks to this experience I view my life as a pianist differently. How blessed am I.
Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 6 (3)
Getting intense about presentation technique!

I found an unexpected and moving connection with the tone of the pitching session:
~Building an idea from nothing, usually with no budget and few other resources other than your own skills and creativity,
~Pitching your idea to someone in the hope that they will reward you for that idea with some money to help make it come true.
~Studying your budget, your script and making a carefully rehearsed but sincere and heartfelt presentation with the hope of a favourable outcome,

Is that not the life of an artist?

I have more in common with this group than might at first reach the eye!

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 7 (1)
It doesn’t matter where you come from. It matters where you are going to.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 7 (2)
Boys and girls walking from school. I take a quiet resolution to be ten times stricter with my own child about the state of his school uniform.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 7 (3)The school uniforms are all spotless. The pride of these young people in their community’s acheivements is palpable.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 7 (4)
A man with a motorised wheel-chair. Where did he get it? Who paid for it? What does he do? Where does he live? Who looks after him? What is his life like? What is the impact of his diability on his emotional state? He waved and smiled at us later as we drove off. A great open smile and a big thumbs-up with BOTH thumbs. Clearly, all these questions had answers…

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 7 (5)
Hair. Black hair. It is a science all on its own. Thandi’s salon is 2x2feet, and the hole in the window sort-of covered by a closet of sorts, but she’s open for business!

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 9 (1)

WHERE you are does not define WHO you are.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 9 (2)
A vision worthy of our nation.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 9 (9)

Mirror Mirror on the wall, who’s the most privileged of us all?

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 9 (4)
I just play the piano, I couldn’t do this math! But it felt great to be able to pass on other skills that I had learnt in my years as a performer, which did not necessarily relate directly to my musical skills.

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 9 (5)

 

How to make sure that the door to tertiary education does not remain locked or remain a revolving door for many: build from the ground up.

 

Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 9 (6) Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 9 (7) Albert Combrink Ikamva Youth 9 (8)

Dear Old Man with your RainBowTie, do you see?

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Pedacito de cielo: CT Tango Ensemble LIVE (Artscape 2014)

Tengo un paraíso con tus besos, Tengo un pedacito de este cielo – I have a small piece of the sky, I have paradise in your kisses LISTEN: The delightful Tango Vals Pedacito de cielo (Music by Francini & Stamponi and lyrics by Homero Expósito) performed by Juan Simon & CT Tango Ensemble during a live performance at […]

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Tengo un paraíso con tus besos, Tengo un pedacito de este cielo – I have a small piece of the sky, I have paradise in your kisses

LISTEN: The delightful Tango Vals Pedacito de cielo (Music by Francini & Stamponi and lyrics by Homero Expósito) performed by Juan Simon & CT Tango Ensemble during a live performance at Artscape Theater. It was recorded on their 3rd CD Tango Dreams.

Juan Simon & CT Tango Ensemble: Stanislav Angelov – Bandoneon & Accordeon / Albert Combrink – Piano / Petrus de Beer – Violin / Carles Lazar – Double Bass / Tango Dancers:  Emiliano Fernandez & Rachel Glaser from “Libertango Cape Town”

Performed in “Tango Dreams” at the Artscape Theater, Cape Town, South Africa – LIVE Amateur Video

CT Tango Ensemble in 2014 released their THIRD CD, “TANGO DREAMS” - available for purchase and download HERE.

Contact CT Tango Ensemble:
CT Tango Ensemble Website HERE.
CT Tango Ensemble on Facebook HERE.
CT Tango Ensemble on Twitter: @TangoBand /@StanislavMusic

BUY OTHER CT TANGO ENSEMBLE ALBUMS HERE:
In US$: HERE and HERE.
In ZAR: HERE.

Tango is more than music. It is the window to collected memories. -  Homero Expósito

Homero Aldo Expósito (Nicknamed Mimo) (November 5, 1918 - September 23, 1987)

(Nicknamed Mimo) (November 5, 1918 – September 23, 1987)

The lyrics of Pedacito de cielo by Homero Expósito (1918-1987) in the original Spanish and in rough English translation by Albert Combrink

La casa tenía una reja - The house had a fence 
pintada con quejas y cantos de amor - painted with complaints and love songs. 
La noche llenaba de ojeras  - The night filled with dark circles 
la reja, la hiedra  y el viejo balcón… - the fence, ivy and the old balcony …
Recuerdo que entonces reías  - I remember then laughed 
si yo te leía  mi verso mejor  - if I read my best verse
y ahora, capricho del tiempo, leyendo esos versos - and now, the whim of time, read these verses
¡lloramos los dos!  - Cried the two!

Los años de la infancia pasaron, pasaron… –  The years of childhood passed, passed …
La reja está dormida de tanto silencio  - The gate is asleep so quiet 
y en aquel pedacito de cielo se quedó tu alegría y mi amor - and in that little piece of heaven it was your joy and love.

Los años han pasado - The years have passed 
terribles, malvados, dejando esa esperanza que no ha de llegar - terrible, evil, leaving that hope has not arrived 
y recuerdo tu gesto travieso - and remember your gesture naughty 
después de aquel beso robado al azar… - after that kiss, random stolen …

Tal vez se enfrió con la brisa - Maybe the breeze cooled 
tu cálida risa, tu límpida voz… –  your warm laughter, your clear voice ...
Tal vez escapó a tus ojeras - Perhaps it escaped your dark circles 
la reja, la hiedra, y el viejo balcón… - the fence, ivy  and the old balcony ...
Tus ojos de azúcar quemada - Your eyes burnt sugar 
tenían distancias doradas al sol… –  distances were golden sun … 
¡Y hoy quieres hallar como entonces - And now you want to find and then 
la reja de bronce – the bronze gate 
temblando de amor!… trembling with love

Homero Aldo Expósito (November 5, 1918 – September 23, 1987) was an Argentine poet and tango songwriter. He was author, among other things, of the famous tangos like PercalNaranjo en florMargóFlor de linoQué me van a hablar de amorEse muchacho Troilo, and Te llaman Malevo. He used to compose with his brother Virgilio Expósito, who was responsible for the music. He was born in Campana and grew up in the city of Zárate, a very important city in the development of the tango. The name Expósito stems from the fact that Homero’s father had been an orphan and had decided to adopt this surname meaning “of unknown origin”.

Download Free Sheet Music of the Tango Vals “Pedacito de cielo” (Music by Francini & Stamponi and lyrics by Homero Expósito) 

Pedacito_de_cielo1

CT Tango Ensemble & Juan Simon during the show "Tango Dreams" at Artscape Theater 2014

CT Tango Ensemble & Juan Simon during the show “Tango Dreams” at Artscape Theater 2014

 

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Volver (Carlos Gardel): CT Tango Ensemble

“Que veinte anos no es nada” - ”Twenty years in the blink of an eye” “Volver”: Juan Simon & CT Tango Ensemble: Stanislav Angelov – Bandoneon & Accordeon / Albert Combrink – Piano / Petrus de Beer – Violin / Carles Lazar – Double Bass Performed in “Tango Dreams” at the Artscape Theater, Cape Town, South […]

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volver
Buenos Aires
Carlos Gardel
180px-Le_Pera_Alfredo
Free Volver Sheet Music Carlos Gardel Page 1
Free Volver Sheet Music Carlos Gardel Page 2

volver

“Que veinte anos no es nada” - ”Twenty years in the blink of an eye”

“Volver”: Juan Simon & CT Tango Ensemble: Stanislav Angelov – Bandoneon & Accordeon / Albert Combrink – Piano / Petrus de Beer – Violin / Carles Lazar – Double Bass

Performed in “Tango Dreams” at the Artscape Theater, Cape Town, South Africa – LIVE Amateur Video

CT Tango Ensemble in 2014 released their THIRD CD, “TANGO DREAMS” – available for purchase and download HERE.

Contact CT Tango Ensemble:
CT Tango Ensemble Website HERE.
CT Tango Ensemble on Facebook HERE.
CT Tango Ensemble on Twitter: @TangoBand /@StanislavMusic

BUY OTHER CT TANGO ENSEMBLE ALBUMS HERE:
In US$: HERE and HERE.
In ZAR: HERE.

“Con el alma aferrada a un dulce recuerdo” – To the soul a sweet memory clings

More about the song “Volver” and it’s Composer Carlos Gardel and the lyricist Alfredo le Pera

Carlos Gardel (born Charles Romuald Gardes; 11 December 1890 – 24 June 1935) was a singer, songwriter, composer and actor, and one of the most prominent figures in the history of tango. The unerring musicality of Gardel’s exquisite voice (some describe it as a tenor, others a lyric baritone) and the dramatic phrasing of his lyrics made miniature masterpieces of his hundreds of three-minute tango recordings. Together with lyricist and collaborator Alfredo Le Pera (1900-1935), Gardel wrote several classic tangos. In a space of roughly three years, the team produced some of the most-loved tango songs of all time, as fresh and popular today as they were in the lifetime of their creators.

Film star, singer, composer. Blessed with looks and voice.

Film star, singer, composer. Blessed with looks and voice.

” Que es un soplo la vida” – Life is but a breath

Dying tragically in a plane crash, young and beautiful at the height of his career, Gardel became an archetypal tragic hero mourned throughout Latin America. For many, Gardel embodies the soul of the tango style. He is commonly referred to as “Carlitos”, “El Zorzal” (The Song Thrush), “The King of Tango”, “El Mago” (The Magician), “El Morocho del Abasto” (The Brunet Boy from Abasto), and “El Mudo” (The Mute). (See the bottom of the article for a selected list of his compositions)

The wall of the Bueons-Aires Tango Club El Abasto

The wall of the Buenos-Aires Tango Club El Abasto (the photo was taken before their renovations were complete)

Gardel was famous as a handsome actor, singer and composer. He wrote the now very famous Tango-canción “Volver” for the film El Día Que Me Quieras (The day that you will love me),  in which he starred as well. The first recording was produced in New York, at “Victor” studios, on the 19th of March, 1935, almost exactly three months before both the composer and the lyricist met their tragic deaths in a plane crash. Gardel and Le Pera were coming to the end of a promotional tour for the film, when, on 24 June 1935, the plane in which they were taking off from the airport in Medellin, Colombia crashed into another plane on the runway, killing them both and most of the other passengers on board, including the other musicians travelling with them.

Lyricist, journalist, screenplay-writer Alfredo le Pera

Alfredo le Pera: lyricist, journalist & screenplay-writer.

Alfredo Le Pera (1900-1935), was born in São Paulo, Brazil, the son of Italian immigrants who moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1902. At the beginning of his career, he worked for several Argentinian periodicals as a journalist and theatre critic and in 1928 became involved in the film industry. He worked for Paramount Pictures while living in Paris and in 1932 the studio arranged for him to work with Carlos Gardel, at a time when the company was looking for ways to increase Gardel’s international appeal . Le Pera wrote the scripts for a series of films, including Melodía de Arrabal (1933), Cuesta abajo (1934), El Tango en Broadway (1934), El día que me quieras (1935) and Tango Bar (1935), and also wrote the lyrics for tangos composed and performed by Gardel in these films. These tangos would become classics of the genre across the Spanish-speaking world.

 

Download Free Sheet Music for “Volver” (Carlos Gardel)

Free Volver Sheet Music Carlos Gardel Page 1

Free Volver Sheet Music Carlos Gardel Page 2

 

“Volver” (Carlos Gardel – music/Alfredo Le Pera – lyrics, 1935)

Lyris in Spanish (Castellan0)

Yo adivino el parpadeo
de las luces que a lo lejos,
van marcando mi retorno…
Son las mismas que alumbraron,
con sus palidos reflejos,
hondas horas de dolor.
Y aunque no quise el regreso,
siempre se vuelve al primer amor.
La quieta calle donde el eco dijo:
Tuya es su vida, tuyo es su querer,
bajo el burlon mirar de las estrellas
que con indiferencia hoy me ven volver…

Volver,
con la frente marchita,
las nieves del tiempo
platearon mi sien…
Sentir… que es un soplo la vida,
que veinte anos no es nada,
que febril la mirada
errante en la sombras
te busca y te nombra.
Vivir,
con el alma aferrada
a un dulce recuerdo,
que lloro otra vez…

Tengo miedo del encuentro
con el pasado que vuelve
a enfrentarse con mi vida…
Tengo miedo de las noches
que, pobladas de recuerdos,
encadenan mi sonar…
Pero el viajero que huye
tarde o temprano detiene su andar…
Y aunque el olvido, que todo destruye,
haya matado mi vieja ilusion,
guardo escondida una esperanza humilde
que es toda la fortuna de mi corazon.

Vivir… con el alma aferrada
a un dulce recuerdo
que lloro otra vez…

“Volver” (Carlos Gardel – music/Alfredo Le Pera – lyrics, 1935)

Lyris in ENGLISH

I imagine the flickering
of the lights that in the distance
will be marking my return.
They’re the same that lit,
with their pale reflections,
deep hours of pain
And even though I didn’t want to come back,
you always return to your first love
The tranquil street where the echo said
yours is her life, yours is her love,
under the mocking gaze of the stars
that, with indifference, today see me return.

To return
with withered face,
the snows of time
have whitened my temples.
To feel… that life is a puff of wind,
that twenty years is nothing,
that the feverish look,
wandering in the shadow,
looks for you and names you.
To live…
with the soul clutched
to a sweet memory
that I cry once again

I am afraid of the encounter
with the past that returns
to confront my life
I am afraid of the nights
that, filled with memories,
shackle my dreams.
But the traveler that flees
sooner or later stops his walking
And although forgetfulness, which destroys all,
has killed my old dream,
I keep concealed a humble hope
that is my heart’s whole fortune.

To live… with the soul clutched
to a sweet memory
that I cry once again

 

The ONE AND ONLY Carlos Gardel singing his song,”Volver”
(Carlos Gardel – music/Alfredo Le Pera – lyrics)

“Un dulce recuerdo, que lloro otra vez” – A sweet memory, I cry again…

Music Compositions

Gardel wrote the music and Alfredo Le Pera the lyrics for the following compositions:

  • Amargura (tango)
  • Amores de Estudiante (waltz)
  • Apure, delantero buey (song)
  • Arrabal amargo (tango)
  • Caminito soleado (song)
  • Cheating muchachita
  • Criollita, deci que si (song)
  • Cuesta abajo (tango)
  • El día que me quieras (song)
  • Golondrinas (tango)
  • Guitarra, guitarra mia
  • La criolla
  • La vida en un trago
  • Lejana tierra mia (song)
  • Los panchos en Buenos Aires
  • Melodia de arrabal (tango)
  • Mi Buenos Aires querido (tango, 1934)
  • Olvido
  • Por tu boca roja
  • Por una cabeza (tango, 1935)
  • Quiereme
  • Recuerdo malevo (tango)
  • Rubias de New York (foxtrot)
  • Soledad (tango)
  • Suerte negra (waltz)
  • Sus ojos se cerraron (tango)
  • Viejos tiempos (tango)
  • Volver (tango, 1934)
  • Volvio una noche (tango)
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“Us” and “Them” – a post-election reflection (SASCE 9 & 10 May 2014)

SASCE Choir Eisteddfod: Bloekombos, Kuilsriver, 9 & 10 May 2014 This is a little reflection on “us” and “them” thinking. I use racially-loaded terms like “Here” and “There”, “our side of town” and “their side of town”, and I put them in inverted commas, to make them stand out. How do we relate to these […]

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SASCE Choir Eisteddfod: Bloekombos, Kuilsriver, 9 & 10 May 2014

This is a little reflection on “us” and “them” thinking. I use racially-loaded terms like “Here” and “There”, “our side of town” and “their side of town”, and I put them in inverted commas, to make them stand out. How do we relate to these terms? How do we use them? To what purpose do we apply them? No offense is intended, but since this is still election week, and issues of race and identity are being debated, I felt that some of my experiences needed reflection. Here they are. I simply did not have time to collect names of all the people whose pictures I post or whom I make comments about, as I was actually on duty as official pianist for the Eisteddfod.

Ten hours of Eisteddfod Day isn’t for everyone. It is exhausting and frustrating. There could be 5 choirs in 20 categories or 20 choirs in 5. Either way, you end up listening to repeated performances of the same songs set by some committee up on high, and the days can be long. Regularly we “start” at 8.30am (the administrators are all there but the choirs aren’t, or the choirs are all there but the judges aren’t, so starting time is “flexible. And we go on into the evening usually, with winners announcements and judges’ comments around 7pm.

The music heard ranges from the excruciating to the sublime. Simultaneously an indictment on our governments, past and present, as it is a celebration of the resilience, optimism, dogged determination and pure hard work of this country’s people.

Racial segregation is still an issue, as we still deal with geographic, educational and financial divides. But there is change and progress. We’re not supposed to talk “black”, “white”, “coloured” (“Indian”never seems to come up in the Western Cape) and yet it is the subtext of a lot of what we do. There were no “white”choirs here today, this is “North sector”. This weekend, some “coloured” schools beat some “black”schools, and there was much cause for discussion and jubilation.

As long as the people of my country SING, I have HOPE for the future.

SASCE  (26)

A crowd of supporters with with Bongiwe Mapasa, one of the judges. Mapasa, a graduate of UCT Opera School, has performed in many Opera productions, locally and abroad, including the Lond Critic’s Olvier Award-winning “Magic Flute” in which she sang various roles in different revivals, from Pamina to the Queen of the Night.

Parents sing and dance support and cheer for “their”/”our” children. While the adjudicators make their notes and add up totals, “they”/”we” sing and dance.

SASCE  (1)

South African Baritone Thato Machona, already seen in productions abroad such as “Trouble in Tahiti”is another star-graduate from the UCT Opera School.

Adjudicator Thato Machona is a superb young baritone. A powerful voice, a mature presence. Catch him on stage this year in “Viaggio a Rheims” and the “Mandela Trilogy” for Cape Town Opera. — with Thato Machona at Bloekombos Secondary School.

One of the Set pieces for Junior School Choirs.

I have to play the same song for every single choir. By the end of the day the cuckoo might not be the only one crying! If the song is badly-chosen by “their” committee, there is no hope for a good performance. The High School section in particular suffers from Finales from Aida, Macbeth, La Cenorentola. ”They”often have older pupils performing in the High Schools section, with matriculants often being in their early twenties and most “white” schools simply do not have such mature voices often enough to consider becoming regular participants. But today there is hope as this is Junior School day.

Doh is E flat

And so it should stay…

“They” use Tonic Sol-Fa, the French notation system designed for illiterate people. “We” use staff-notation. These are simply two different sets of notation that have been adopted over centuries, but “we” are pretty confident “ours” works better. “Our” Old South African Government also made sure there were no pianos. music posts or training for music teachers in “their”schools and colleges, so the Sol-Fa has persisted. And 20 years into democracy, the situation still persists. Most of “us” can not work accurately in Sol-Fa, making “us” either superior or of no use to “them”.

SASCE  (24)

Our hosts for the day: Bloekombos Secondary School

The tuckshop is run out of buckets next to the front door.

SASCE  (23)

Bloekombos Seconday School

Blokombos Seconday School is a lovely modern school, a bit short perhaps on the facilities “we” are used to “in town” – no sprawling lawns, swimming pool, Astroturf or any sports field for that matter, let alone a view of the Rondebosch Mountains when you look up from your Cricketfield – but here is where an Umculo Cape Festival ran a Purcell opera last year (Faery Queen). How many of “our” schools “in town” can provide this number of quality voices?

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Enigma

I often hear that “they” have so much inborn talent, that “natural rhythm”. But in every Eisteddfod, rehearsal or concert, there are babies and young children around. Through cultural values of inclusion to pure practical necessity, “these children” are observing rehearsals, practices and performances virtually from birth. What magnificent training and cultural teaching! “They” give “their” children such a precious gift, a life-time relationship with music and a sense of community expressed though communal music-making.  I wish “we” had more of that on “our side” of town. “We”are so terrified that a squeal from a child would interfere with our great, sacred art, that our children are mostly kept away from “our” holy sacred rituals,  framed as they are by Steinways,  Stradivariuses (Stradivarii?) and Stern Ushers and tightlipped librarians. “Our”children, instead, have to be taught these cultural values in schools. At great expense. “We” audition children with the sole purpose of excluding them, our concerts have to be labelled child-friendly or not. Here, the training is simply “in-service” from childhood

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Dancing supporters

If “our” children’s schools don’t have a good music department “we” send our kids to Music Schools. “We” have a few of these on “our side of town”. “They”don’t really play instruments. Partly because “they” have no Music Posts in schools or Music Schools. The fact that “they” still manage to express their humanity through singing and dancing, in cross-rhythms and spontaneous multiple counterpoint and instant on-the-spot harmonisation, is extraordinary.

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Cheering mothers and Teachers

Mothers and Teachers cheer together. I sense a feeling of community “here” which I don’t feel “there”/”here” where I come from. I could not imagine “our” teachers and mothers cheering the other team with such honest and open smiles and pleasure.

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This lady is cheering on the opposition choir! How bloody marvelous! “Here”/”There” I sense something that “we” have either lost, or have yet to learn from “them”/”us”.

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Joy

When last did you see an Eisteddfod on “our side” of town, bustle with energy and excitement like this? Tell me again how it is so much better on “our side”? And the hall is PACKED. Not room for a mouse. Note the adjudicator Keith Tabisher patiently writing his re/marks and comments while the mamas form a chain dance around the table. Note how not one person is trying to see what he’s writing or to read his marks. By tonight our ears will be ringing, the stress of the noise making our tendons ache. But for now, there’s just a living breathing creature in the room. One with many hearts.

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Conductor

“Christina von Karajan”. This lady has MOVES. Her choir sang so expressively and one can see why! From the piano I got the FULL WORKS.

People always ask me “Is it safe to work “out there” in the townships?” No it isn’t. If this lady says “Play softly né?” I would HATE to think what would happen to me if I didn’t.

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“Christina von Karajan”, so earnest and honest and desperate to give it her best. Not a facial muscle left unused in creating the perfect decrescendo to a soft hush.

In the 2 minute conference between conductor and pianist, who in this case – and most cases – had never met each other before, let alone rehearsed together, she said:
“Not too fast né?”
I said “No mama, not to fast.”
She said: “Not too slow né?”
I said “I wouldn’t dare.”

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“Houston Houston, prepare for Lift-off”

We are building to a climax now. The shoulders rival Toscanini in expressive nuance.

BOOM!

BOOM!

BOOM! We reach the summit of the Crescendo! WE HAVE LIFT OFF!

Before you laugh too hard, remember this is not a music-student or a music-graduate or even someone who had music at school like “we”did. This is simply your average school-teacher “on that side of town”who gives up week-end after week-end to train these kids in camps and workshops, stitching together every bit knowledge and initiative at her disposal. The resulting quilt might not be pashimina, but it warms the heart.

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Angels

I hear so many comments “in town” on “our side” about the quality of music “there” in “the townships”, the dreadful tonic sol-fa intonation, the days running late, etc. But “we” definitely do not always remember that it is about the children, their experience of music, their chance to build a dream for their own lives.

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Whispering Cherubs

The Cherub’s Secret whisper. Straight out of a painting by Jean-Honoré Fragonard. That little one was SO EXCITED! This was the highlight of her school year so far. I don’t think she cared that the altos sang a bit out of tune.

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Afrikaan set Song

Looks like we lost the altos. Never mind the rokkies, lets start with the sopranos.

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Vernacular Set Song

Hmm, the chromatics – “they” ALWAYS go wrong. That “Manhattan Transfer” effect you got going there just DOESN’T WORK. There is no “auto-tune” here.

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The Cuckoo


Some choirs sounded like they were yodeling, some sounded like apprentice coloraturas. Some flew away from the pitch like a flock of frightened hens. Enough to make you KOEKOE.

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“Early One Morning” – English Set Song
1) Early one morning,
Just as the sun was rising,
I heard a young maid sing,
In the valley below.
CHORUS:
Oh, don’t deceive me,
Oh, never leave me,
How could you use
A poor maiden so?
2) Remember the vows,
That you made to your Mary,
Remember the bow’r,
Where you vowed to be true,

An English Folksong “Early One Morning” is turned into a melodrama, a mini-opera, with a damsel in distress draped in pink.

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Pink and Grey Grannie

 

“Where did granny learn to play the piano?”
“Oh there other side by the nuns. But that was a very very long time ago.”
“So were the nuns very strict with granny?”
“Only the German ones”.

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Singing and dances

Dancing and singing in between. For some “white people” (we aren’t allowed to say that, right?) the “black people” (not supposed to say that either)  singing and making so much noise in between performance items seems chaotic and ill-disciplined, un-educated about concert etiquette (There is only one, right? “Ours”.) “Unvicilised.”Yes, I’ve heard it called that. Yet here we are in a hall filled to the BRIM with over a thousand people to listen to some primary school children singing primary school children’s songs. And “we” who live “in town” think we have it better on “our” side.

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Vuyo Maseti

While the government usually hires a pianist to be “on-tap” for the day, some choirs manage to provide their own. These pianists and the choirs usually would have had a chance to get used to each other, rehearse a bit and take the correct tempo  for each choir, etc. But there still is a desperate shortage of “their” pianists who live in “their” areas and speak “their” languages. “We” who are willing to come from “our side of town” to “their side of town” have to be compensated for travel and the time it takes to go to outlying areas, making “us”more expensive per hour for “their” choirs than for “our”choirs “in town”. This is the Apartheid Double-Whammy. Either the government has to pay “us” a travel fee to go there (i.e. subsidise “them”) or “they”/”we” have to provide channels of access to “our” skills. Either way, “they” are still disadvantaged. We might have had twenty years. But Khayelitsha is every centimeter as far away from Cape Town now as it was back then.

 

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Vuyo Maseti

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Vuyo Maseti

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Vuyo Maseti

Vuyo Maseti :A young man from the Eastern Cape who now runs a music studio in Cape Town’s Khayelitsha township. Contact him on statomusic.dev@gmail.com — with Vuyolwethu Maseti and Stato Music Development.

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Non-stop SMILES

After hours and hours, the audience still sings with as much passion and enthusiasm as anyone on stage.

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Those faces say it all. Mothers and teachers singing support for “their” own “teams” as much as the opposition. Competitions are hotly contested, but this excitement and energy is just wonderful.

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It all started EARLY ONE MORNING and it ended EARLY IN THE EVENING – Thank goodness not LATE INTO THE NIGHT. What an exhausting day. What a rich day. What a blessing.

I love THEIRMY side of town. I pray the THEIRMY government, whomever it might be, starts to provide decent and solid music education to THEIRMY every school and THEIRMY every child in THEIRMY COUNTRY because THEIRMY PEOPLE need it on THEIRMY side of town.

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WECCMA Oratorio Solo Singing Competition: Coaching for Finalists: 28.4.14

Held in the Lookout Hill Hall, pictured here with the hill of “Lookout Hill”, we spent the public holiday providing coaching sessions for young singers as part of the Wecma Oratorio Singing Competition. The competition is open to High School learners. Rounds were held in various sectors and I was brought in before the final […]

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WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (6)

Held in the Lookout Hill Hall, pictured here with the hill of “Lookout Hill”, we spent the public holiday providing coaching sessions for young singers as part of the Wecma Oratorio Singing Competition. The competition is open to High School learners. Rounds were held in various sectors and I was brought in before the final round to give honing and coaching on matters of style, technique and interpretation. I totally respect this model. Competitions evaluate so many things other than the competitor: access to learning, quality of the teaching, the environment etc. So to have a component whereby the young singers can get access to some level of intervention form skilled practitioners in the music business, is of vital importance.

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (7)

Sadly the staircase to the top of “Lookout HIll”was closed to the public. It must afford a spectacular view of Khayelitsha.

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (8)

I wish I could go to the top. I’m not sure what the problem is with the staircase…

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (1)

 

My trusty keyboard stood in for a real piano.

 

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (2)

Civic centers in the Townships is where all of this kind of work happens.

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (3)

Khayelitsha sprawling towards the mountains.

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (9)

What a perfect day, with a glorious view of Khayelitsha.

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (11)

A set of mellow-voiced Mezzo-sopranos presenting Mendelssohn’s “Elijah”. Learning it simply by ear, it is incredible the level or acheivement these young people manage to reach.

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (12)

Isn’t there always a friendly, interested young person around? This young man was my technical assistant: he took pics and found plug sockets and helped me translate a few terms I battled with. He also helped me prove a point of two when I asked him to chose his favourite rendition of an aria.

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (13)

 

Stunning Sopranos. Zodwa Njolo, me and Ntombesizwe Hallam.  Zodwa, in particular, has a silver thread in her voice that is perfect for baroque music, and she sang with such purity and natural musicality. Ntombesizwe had breath-control that was very impressive. Without having been taught it, she seemed to uderstand the physiology of singing technique quite instinctively. Hearing the raw talent in these voices brought tears to my eyes.

 

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (15)

 

Teethy Tenrors singing Haydn’s “The Creation” – in English. A trickier aria than one expects at first, but these guys really went for it. A great sense of cameraderie filled the room and smiles and compliments were warm and genuine.

 

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (16)

The Big Boy Baritones. Wow, some real power here. Some more “Elijah”. Pure respect from these men, learning virtually by ear and putting so much heart and passion into it.The surge of operatic repertoire in the last decade in the competition repertoire has boosted interest in the genre tremendously, bringing with it some risk to voices or the temptation to over-dramatise. But even in these young voices, there were deeply-felt and intensely moving performances. I was genuinely moved by the level or engagement by some of these young men, with the material at hand. Great discussions ensued about Elijah’s state of mind!

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (17)

We had a little visitor too. Hearing the older ones sing, I am sure he is learning by osmosis!

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (20)

In a cement desert, a leaking pipe provides a little oasis for indefatigable African birds. I feel like that is what we do. In the midst of great difficulty, the surrounding shacks and poverty, we find an opportunity to connect, to make music, to make friends, to build dreams. An Oratorio competition. Here. Haydn, Handel, Mendelssohn. It is simply extraordinary.

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (22)

Great signs of optimism and creativity everywhere!

 

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (23)

Spasa shops and houses along the road, built with anything you can imagine, and more.

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (24)

 

People going about their business. Always quick with a smile.

 

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (25)

Food prepared and sold on the pavement. Smiling faces wave and get on with their business. I get offended on behalf of these hard-working ordinary every-day fellow South Africans, when people ask me “is it safe there”. My answer is, “Go see for yourself”.

WECMA Oratorio Competition, Albert Combrink (26)

Khayelitsha, a most unlikely venue for an Oratorio Competition, and yet, how perfectly fitting for Freedom Day.

 

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Shozaloza: Train of dream and struggle

“Shozaloza African Voices” Bukelwa Velem, Babongile Manga, Miranda Tini, Lusindiso Dubula and Lindile Kula Jr and Jazz Band: Albert Combrink (Piano & Musical Director), Darryl Andrews (Bass), Alvyn Dyers (Guitar), Ivan Bell (Drums). Live Amateur footage from the Oudelibertas Amphitheater Show, Stellenbosch, South Africa, February 2014 To book the Musicians, please contact albertcombrink@gmail.com Read more […]

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“Shozaloza African Voices”

Bukelwa Velem, Babongile Manga, Miranda Tini, Lusindiso Dubula and Lindile Kula Jr

and Jazz Band:

Albert Combrink (Piano & Musical Director), Darryl Andrews (Bass), Alvyn Dyers (Guitar), Ivan Bell (Drums).


Live Amateur footage from the Oudelibertas Amphitheater Show, Stellenbosch, South Africa, February 2014

To book the Musicians, please contact albertcombrink@gmail.com

Read more about the original show here.

See photos from the shows here.

Members of “Shozaloza African Voices” have taken part in Cape Town Opera productions as soloists and chorus members. Their experience with Jazz influenced works such as Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, Jerome Kern’s Showboat, Kurt Weil’s Lost in the Stars and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess make them ideal interpreters of this work from the South African cultural heritage.

Download a Free Pdf of the Sheet Music of the song “SHOZALOZA”:

Shosholoza__SATB_ACappella

More about the song “SHOZALOZA”

Although the original author of the song is unknown, “Shosholoza” is a traditional miner’s song, originally sung by groups of men from the Ndebele ethnic group that travelled by steam train from their homes in Zimbabwe to work in South Africa’s diamond and gold mines. The Ndebele live predominantly in Zimbabwe (formerly, Rhodesia) near its border with South Africa, and they can also be found in the northern border of South Africa. The song mixes Ndebele and Zulu words and is Zimbabwean in origin even though the two ethnic groups are very similar.

Some people argue that the song describes the journey to the mines in South Africa, while others say it describes the return to Zimbabwe. It is also sometimes sung “stimela si phume Rhodesia”. It is accepted that  Zulu workers later took up the song to generate rhythm during group tasks and to alleviate boredom and stress. The song was sung by working miners in time with the rhythm of swinging their axes to dig. It was usually sung under hardship in call and response style (one man singing a solo line and the rest of the group responding by copying him). It was also sung by prisoners in call and response style using alto, soprano part divided by row. Former South African President Nelson Mandela describes how he sang Shosholoza as he worked during his imprisonment on Robben Island. He describes it as “a song that compares the apartheid struggle to the motion of an oncoming train” and goes on to explain that “the singing made the work lighter”.

In contemporary times, it is used in varied contexts in South Africa to show solidarity in sporting events and other national events to relay the message that the players are not alone and are part of a team.

 

Meaning

The song was usually sung to express the hardship of working in the mines. It expresses heartache over the hard work performed in the mines. The word Shosholoza or “chocholoza!” means go forward or make way for the next man, in Ndebele. It is used as a term of encouragement and hope for the workers as a sign of solidarity. The sound “sho sho” uses onomatopoeia and reminiscent of the sound made by the steam train (stimela). Stimela is the Zulu word for steam train.”Kulezo ntaba!” means (At those far away mountains), “Stimela Siphume eZimbabwe” (the train come from Zimbabwe), “Wen´ uya baleka” (Because you’re running away/hurrying). In contemporary times, its meaning is to show support for any struggle.

Lyrics

Lyrics Shosholoza

Shosholoza, shosholoza (Moving fast, moving strong)
Ku lezontaba (Through those mountains)
Stimela sphuma eSouth Africa (Train from South Africa)
Wenu yabaleka (You are leaving)
Wenu yabaleka (You are leaving)
Ku lezontaba (Through those mountains)
Stimela siphum’ eSouth Africa (Train from South Africa) 

The lyrics of the song vary, as do the transcriptions. In the older traditional styles, the words translate to “train from Rhodesia”.

Shosholoza
Kulezo ntaba
Stimela siphume South Africa
Kulezo ntaba
Stimela siphume South Africa
Wen’ uyabaleka
Kulezo ntaba
Stimela siphume South Africa

A rough translation:

Go forward
Go forward
from those mountains
on this train from South Africa
Go forward
Go forward
You are running away
You are running away
from those mountainson this train from Zimbabwe

One slightly sanitised version made popular at sporting events, goes like this:

English Translation of “Shoshaloza”:
Work, work, working in the sun
We will work as one
Shosholoza
Work, work, working in the rain
Till there’s sun again
Shosholoza
Push, push pushing on and on
There’s much to be done
Shosholoza
Push, push, pushing in the sun
We will push as one.
” Shosholoza is now a traditional staple in South Africa, and is celebrated by many cultures within the Rainbow Nation. When writing to a close friend in Cape Town about his thoughts on Shosholoza, and the significance of it to him as a young adult, he said,It fills me with a lot of pride in South Africa and in my lifetime has helped me to connect with my own sense of what it is to be from here. I remember my first experiences of it being during the 1995 world cup and that it was something black and white people sang together. Unity.-Edward O’Reilly, age 24. Firelight Foundation
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Video: Gershwin’s “Summertime” – Shozaloza African Voices LIVE

Video: Gershwin’s “Summertime” – “Shozaloza African Voices” Bukelwa Velem ,Babongile Manga, Miranda Tini, Lusindiso Dubula and Lindile Kula Jr and Jazz Band: Albert Combrink (Piano & Musical Director), Darryl Andrews (Bass), Alvyn Dyers (Guitar), Ivan Bell (Drums).     To book the Musicians, please contact albertcombrink@gmail.com Read more about the original show here. See photos […]

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Video: Gershwin’s “Summertime” – “Shozaloza African Voices”

Bukelwa Velem ,Babongile Manga, Miranda Tini, Lusindiso Dubula and Lindile Kula Jr

and Jazz Band: Albert Combrink (Piano & Musical Director), Darryl Andrews (Bass), Alvyn Dyers (Guitar), Ivan Bell (Drums).

 

 

To book the Musicians, please contact albertcombrink@gmail.com

Read more about the original show here.

See photos from the shows here.

Live Amateur footage from the Oudelibertas Amphitheater Show, Stellenbosch, South Africa, February 2014

Members of “Shozaloza African Voices” have taken part in Cape Town Opera productions as soloists and chorus members. Their experience with Jazz influenced works such as Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, Jerome Kern’s Showboat,  Kurt Weil’s Lost in the Stars and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess make them ideal interpreters of this work flowing between jazz and classical operatic genres.

Follow Albert on Twitter:
@albertcombrink

Find “The Summertime Connection” on FACEBOOK.

More about Gershwin’s song “Summertime”:

An Opera Aria that became a Jazz Standard, Gershwin’s “Summertime”has gained international fame as one of the most recorded songs of all time, with almost 35 ooo known recordings. Gershwin began composing the song/opera aria, for inclusion in his opera Porgy and Bess(America’s first serious “Jazz-Opera” after Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha” ) in December 1933. He attempted to create his own spiritual in the style of the African American folk music of the period. 

Two main sources of inspiration are usually quoted about this song:
1) The Book by DuBose Heyward had been presented as a play, and the spiritual “Sometimes I feel, like a motherless child”) was sung at the end. [Rosenberg, Deena (1991). Fascinating Rhythm: The Collaboration of George and Ira Gershwin. Penguin Books USA. ISBN 0-525-93356-5., p. 281]  The opening intervals of  “Summertime” do contain a melodic cell that reminds one of the spiritual.

2) The Ukrainian-Canadian composer and singer Alexis Kochan has suggested that some part of Gershwin’s inspiration may have come from having heard the Ukrainian lullaby, Oi Khodyt Son Kolo Vikon (A Dream Passes By The Windows) at a New York City performance by Oleksander Koshetz‘s Ukrainian National Chorus in 1929 (or 1926). [Helen Smindak, DATELINE NEW YORK: Kochan and Kytasty delve deeply into musical past, The Ukrainian Weekly, 24 May 1998]

Gershwin had completed setting DuBose Heyward’s poem to music by February 1934, and spent the next 20 months completing and orchestrating the score of the opera. [Howard Pollack, George Gershwin: his life and work, University of California Press, 2006, p.589]

The song is sung multiple times throughout Porgy and Bess, first by Clara in Act I as a lullaby and soon after as counterpoint to the craps game scene, in Act II in a reprise by Clara, and in Act III by Bess, singing to Clara’s baby. It was recorded for the first time by Abbie Mitchell on 19 July 1935, with George Gershwin playing the piano and conducting the orchestra (on: George Gershwin Conducts Excerpts from Porgy & Bess, Mark 56 667).

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Video: Back of the Moon (Matshikiza): Shozaloza African Voices Live

Video: Back of the Moon (Matshikiza): Shozaloza African Voices Live “Shozaloza African Voices”:  Bukelwa Velem ,Babongile Manga, Miranda Tini, Lusindiso Dubula and Lindile Kula Jr and Jazz Band: Albert Combrink (Piano & Musical Director), Darryl Andrews (Bass), Alvyn Dyers (Guitar), Ivan Bell (Drums). To book the Musicians, please contact albertcombrink@gmail.com Read more about the original […]

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Video: Back of the Moon (Matshikiza): Shozaloza African Voices Live

“Shozaloza African Voices”:  Bukelwa Velem ,Babongile Manga, Miranda Tini, Lusindiso Dubula and Lindile Kula Jr

and Jazz Band:

Albert Combrink (Piano & Musical Director), Darryl Andrews (Bass), Alvyn Dyers (Guitar), Ivan Bell (Drums).

To book the Musicians, please contact albertcombrink@gmail.com

Read more about the original show here.

See photos from the shows here.

Live Amateur footage from the Oudelibertas Amphitheater Show, Stellenbosch, South Africa, February 2014

 King Kong is of course one of the most famous American films ever made (and remade). The story of the giant ape transported from a faraway island to New York, captured the imagination of millions since its first release in 1933. South Africa however, has its own King Kong. In 1958  King Kong became the first all African Jazz Opera, with a star studded local cast including Miriam Makeba and the Manhattan Brothers, Kippie Moeketsi, Abigail Kubheka and Hugh Masekela.

Miranda Tini

Soloist is  Miranda Tini, whose extraordinary voice has thrilled audiences locally and internationally in roles as diverse as Jezibaba from Dvorak’s Rusalka and Mariah in Porgy and Bess praised at the Cardiff Millennium Centre in Wales, for her “powerful stage presence and equally powerful voice.” (Bill Kenny: Music Web International) 

Members of “Shozaloza African Voices” have taken part in Cape Town Opera productions as soloists and chorus members. Their experience with Jazz influenced works such as Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha, Jerome Kern’s Showboat,  Kurt Weil’s Lost in the Stars and Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess make them ideal interpreters of this neglected work from the South African cultural heritage.

In 1956, the Syndicate of African Artists commissioned Todd Matshikiza to write a large work for choir and orchestra. The composer had written successful choral works before, but since no orchestra was available, Uxolo was created on a massive scale for choirs and brass band. The success of this work – with its jazzy undertones, led in part to the creation of the musical/Jazz Opera King Kong. Lyrics were by Pat Williams. Matshikiza wrote the music as well of some of the lyrics (some in African languages).

Miriam Makeba: Our beloved “Mama Africa”

Lead roles were taken by Nathan Mdledle and Miriam Makeba, who created the role of Shebeen Queen Joyce, the matriarch running the Back of the Moon watering hole. This role brought Mama Africa Makeba international attention and launched a singing career that sustained her throughout her life as an Apartheid exile. The 63 member cast was backed by the cream of South Africa’s jazz musicians, including the now legendary reed playerKippie Moketsi.

 An_Evening_With_Belafonte_Makeba

Opening early in 1959 at the Wits University Great Hall, the show was an immediate success. By the time the show travelled to London in 1961, 200 000 South Africans, had seen the show. The life of boxer Ezekial Dhlamini was good material for a stage work. His meteoric rise to the top of South Africa’s boxing world as the famous ‘King Kong’ was in sad contrast to his descent into drunkenness, violence and murder. He killed himself by drowning at age 32. Matshikiza had covered Dhlamini’s 1950’s trial for treason as a journalist and was aboviously well-acquainted with his subject matter. According to The Daily Mail & Guardian, “Matshikiza understood his central character, and, more importantly, understood the whole world that surrounded ‘King Kong’. He understood the whole black world of the townships that fed Johannesburg and the histories of the people who filled those townships.” ~ Craig Harris, All Music Guide

 

Composer and author Todd Matshikiza

Todd Matshikiza (1921-1968)  is considered by many, as belonging to the royalty of South African music. One of a family of 10 – all of whom instrumentalists and singers –  Todd started piano lessons at the age of 6. As an adult he ran theTodd Matshikiza School of Music, where he also taught the piano. From 1949 to 1954, Matshikiza was a committee member of the Syndicate of African Artists. This group aimed to promote music in the townships by getting visiting artists to perform there. Finding it difficult to make a living as a jazz musician, he joined the editorial staff of Drum Magazine.  He wrote a jazz column covering the township scene, particularly in Sophiatown, where he commented on the likes of Kippie Moeketsi and Hugh Masekela who both played for the The Jazz Epistles. He also covered township life in his regular column With the lid off.

South African arts bosses should take note:  the time is surely right for a revival of King Kong.With local musicians taking  an active interest in the history of black jazz in this country, it would be a pleasant surprise if the Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology would also take such an active interest in the preservation of this piece of cultural heritage.

Read more about Todd Matshikiza at africancomposers.co.za andsacomposers.co.za

 

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Meadowlands: a song about what black people say about what white people say

MeadowLands (Strike Vilakazi) “Meadowlands“ is one of the most enduring melodies in South African music. The song was composed by Strike Vilakazi in 1956 as a moving, emotional comment on the forced removal of Sophiatown’s residents to the newly created township of Meadowlands, which is now part of Soweto, The lyrics are sung in three different languages […]

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MeadowLands (Strike Vilakazi)

“Meadowlands“ is one of the most enduring melodies in South African music. The song was composed by Strike Vilakazi in 1956 as a moving, emotional comment on the forced removal of Sophiatown’s residents to the newly created township of Meadowlands, which is now part of Soweto, The lyrics are sung in three different languages Zulu, Sesotho and tsotsitaal, the language of the streets- a mixture of English, Afrikaans, Zulu, Sesotho and Tswana. The lyrics are  ambiguous in their assessment, for or against, the government’s action. The white government thought the song supported their actions, but in reality it was a protest song about people refusing to go to Meadowlands.

Soweto_township

Africans perceived the forced removals as a cleaning up of the country, erasing ‘black spots’ to make ‘the picture look white.’ Sophiatown was rebuilt as white suburb called Triomf, the Afrikaans word for triumph. The removals sparked the creation of a song called “Meadowlands”, in reference to the Meadowlands township to which many Sophiatown residents were forced relocate. The lyrics express the devastation of the evacuation: “we will move all night and day/to go stay in meadowlands/you’ll hear the white people saying/let’s go to meadowlands.”

Dolly Rathebe on the cover of Drum Magazine (1928-2004)

Dolly Rathebe on the cover of the July 1955 Drum Magazine (1928-2004)

“Meadowlands” has a swing melody, and is sung in African languages, which masked its indictment of the callousness of white racism. so that white government officials and politicians, unable to understand, at the time thought the song was cheerful.

Read an interesting article Michela Versbow about the forced removals and the role of music in the South African struggle HERE.

The song was made famous by African Jazz Pioneers with Dolly Rathebe

The Zulu or Sesotho verse roughly translates to:

Let‘s go, let‘s go ,let‘s go to Meadowlands
We‘ll work night and day, going straight to Meadowlands
Have you heard what the white people say?
Let‘s all go to Meadowlands…
Our beloved place

The tsotsitaal version translates to something else:

Have you heard what the tstotsis all say
We are not leaving; we‘re are staying right here
Staying here, staying here
Staying here in our beloved place

The ambiguity is enhanced further by mixing Sesotho with tsotsitaal

Utla a utlwa makgowa a re a re yeng eMeadowlands (Sesotho)
You will hear the whites saying let‘s go to Meadowlands
Meadowlands, Meadowlands,
ons daak nie ons pola hie (tsotsitaal)
We are not leaving, we are staying right here

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The Click Song

The Click Song  Qongqothwane is a traditional song of the Xhosa people of South Africa. It is sung at weddings to bring good fortune. In thewestern world it is mainly known as The Click Song, a nickname given to the song by European colonials who could not pronounce its Xhosa title, which has many click consonants in it. The Xhosa title literally means “knock-knock beetle”, which is a popular […]

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The Click Song 

Qongqothwane is a traditional song of the Xhosa people of South Africa. It is sung at weddings to bring good fortune. In thewestern world it is mainly known as The Click Song, a nickname given to the song by European colonials who could not pronounce its Xhosa title, which has many click consonants in it. The Xhosa title literally means “knock-knock beetle”, which is a popular name for various species of darkling beetles that make a distinctive knocking sound by tapping their abdomens on the ground. These beetles are believed by the Xhosa to bring good luck and rain.

The song is known world-wide thanks to the interpretation of South African singer Miriam Makeba (herself a Xhosa). In her discography the songs appears in several versions, both with title Qongqothwane and as The Click Song.

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LYRICS and TRANSLATION

There’s more info on this song in Miriam’s book The World of African Song (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1971) with the following translation:

“The doctor of the road is the beetle/He climbed past this way They say it is the beetle/Oh! It is the beetle.”

She explains the song as a traditional folk song which refers to the knocking beetle which makes clicking sounds and can revolve the top part of its body in any direction. The beetle is used in children’s games to point the way home, but also has a deeper symbolism, pointing the way to a better future in times of trouble. In her biography (p.86), she mentions singing it in The Village Vanguard Club in New York, and calls it a “Xhosa song about a dreamy bride”

PenguinPoweredPiano gives quite an interesting version of the lyrics:

Qongqothwane is a song about where the village’s witch doctor can be found. This is important because it is the witch doctor who gives good blessings and advice for the future to the Xhosa’s newlyweds. But this witch doctor looks just like a normal person, not like what most people think of when they imagine a witch doctor — strange hair, charms, and all that. So sometimes, he can be hard to find since he looks like everyone else. He is compared to a “knocking beetle,” a type of beetle that makes an abrasive sound when it strikes its abdomen against the ground. Children play with these beetles, and they are said to lead the way home. In a way, the witch doctor is very like the beetle, as he leads the newlywed couple to a new future together in the same way that the beetle leads children home to where they belong.

Lyrics:

Igqira lendlela nguqo ngqothwane
The road’s witchdoctor is the knocking beetle

Igqirha lendlela kuthwa nguqo ngqothwane
The witchdoctor of the road is said to be the knocking beetle

Seleqabele gqi thapha nguqo ngqothwane
He has passed by up the steep hill, the knocking beetle

Selequbule gqi thapha nguqo ngqothwane
He did pass by up the steep hill, the knocking beetle

A version by the famous Miriam Makeba:

A version by “Shozaloza African Voices” in a medley with another famous South African Song, “Mama Thembu’s Wedding”:

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