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SINJE-NJE-NJE KZN SCHOOLS TOUR (article first published : 2005-02-13)

Coming out of the Playhouse Company's Senze-nje Chorale Music developmental programme Sinje-nje-nje presents, A Journey of Song conducted by Professor Caesar Ndlovu. The troupe will tour KZN schools, starting from Durban in March before gracing international stages later this year.

The production represents a commercialisation of African choral music compositions mixed with traditional dances in a storyline fashion with pulsating choreography and interspersed with film inserts on big screen. The theme includes issues such as Celebrating 10 years of Democracy, HIV/ AIDS pandemic and values of education in South Africa.

The production is strongly relevant to the New Arts and Culture Curriculum as it also provides exposure and experience for learners in music, dance and drama. Sinje-nje-nje's new musical experience is journeyed and experienced through a mixture of traditional song and dance styles, including indlamu [Zulu dance], isicathamiya [traditional choral], izibongo [praise poetry] and story telling.

All these styles are merged into a new South African Classical Choral genre, with scintillating choreography. “We feel the production of this fashion can add value to the teaching of music, dance and drama in the classroom situation, whet the learners' schooling appetite and thus contribute to the learning outcomes as enshrined in the Revised National Curriculum [Schools Policy]” says Prof. Caesar Ndlovu.

The troup is in great demand and has already performed at DPHS and Gordon Road Girls School in Morningside, where it received standing ovations and has been booked by other schools in the neighbourhood.

This “not to be missed” musical will appeal to both young and old, with its exciting story line and sing-along traditional tunes. The cast comprises 25 classically trained musicians and has been directed by Jerry Pooe together with Professor C. Ndlovu with musical direction by Mthunzi Namba.

Prof. Ndlovu has been involved in African choral music since his primary school days, singing in the choir for choral music competitions and concerts. In 1976 he started his music studies at the University of Zululand under the tutelage of the late Professor Khabi Mngoma. He worked as a cabaret artist in various night clubs in Durban from 1974 to 1978, thereafter recording with various groups in Durban. A co-founder of the choral music association of South Africa, Prof Ndlovu worked with SABC TV2 as a music producer in Johannesburg from 1981 to 1984.

“When I was at the University, Prof Khabi Mngoma made it mandatory for all music students to adjudicate in choral music competitions as part of our music regimen. Since then I have been involved in choral music making by way of coaching choirs, providing piano accompaniment, serving as an adjudicator and also as an administrator of choral music competitions” says Prof Ndlovu.

“From 1988 when I was lecturing at the University of Transkei and also serving as a Music Advisor for Transkei Choral Association [Traca],” Prof Ndlovu continues, “I began to question why such a vibrant African choral music tradition was only performed for music competitions and did not venture beyond this realm, to explore other areas of development, like mixing it with other styles, so as to give it saleability or merchantability in the music market.

“Also as to why this style is performed by choristers standing still like ‘lamp-posts’, yet it possesses a potency of pulsating beats and percussive rhythms. I also noticed that it is the only African musical style that is performed by African singers standing still, a physical behaviour that is very unAfrican,” he adds.

The songs that are sung are composed by proverbial African classical composers like Phelelani Mnomiya, the late LLB Chonco, Thandi Ngqobe and Ntombela, plus the singing of a variety of amahubo [traditional choral songs].

Comments from the two schools have been very positive: “...Very relevant to our 10 year of democracy...very vibrant and ethnically satisfying”, says Richard Neave, Headmaster of Durban Preparatory High School and “...So vibrant, so enjoyable,” says Mrs F. Deppe, Music Teacher at Gordon Road Girls School.

Those wishing to book a performance of this exciting KZN schools touring programme are advised to book early. Tickets R20 per learner and the suggested time for performances is 10h00. More information and bookings from Lungelo Luthuli on 082 430 0177 or 082 928 8429.




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