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FRIENDS OF MUSIC: DRAKENSBERG BOYS’ CHOIR (article first published : 2005-08-26)

The Drakensberg Boys’ Choir is always a crowd-drawer and a crowd-pleaser, and so it was with this performance at the Durban Jewish Centre. Attendance was unusually large for a Friends of Music concert, and the audience was given a most enjoyable programme of great variety and accomplishment.

The choir consists of about 40 schoolboy singers, some of them not more than about ten years old, I would say. They come from far and wide; their home towns range from Cape Town to Pretoria, with many places in between. The boys have been admirably trained by their conductor, Rudolf de Beer. This concert gave a close-up picture of their vocal quality, tonal balance and general sensitivity in the music they were singing.

They began with a lengthy, semi-improvised incantation part-composed by Rudolf de Beer himself, and then followed a programme of exceptional range: excerpts from a Bach oratorio, a vocalised Norwegian bridal dance, a Zulu lullaby, Afrikaans love songs (the choir has recently produced a CD of Afrikaans music), and a profusion of African music, including a really beautiful Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika.

All these were sung with great skill and discipline, and the choir generated considerable power in three excerpts from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, which the Drakensberg boys will sing with the KZN Philharmonic in November.

For me the high points of the evening were an enchanting version of Sing a Song of Sixpence by the English composer John Rutter, and a Cape Malay Nuwe Jaar song which evoked whistles of approval from the audience.

Conductor/coach Rudolf de Beer obviously made a huge contribution to the success of this concert, and at the piano Marinda Snyman also played a significant role.

The occasion was given financial assistance through the sponsorship of Durban businessman John Moshal. It is good to know that there are many private citizens who are prepared to help the arts selflessly and without seeking reward.- Michael Green




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