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FOM: KEARSNEY COLLEGE CHOIR (article first published : 2007-06-21)

The Kearsney College Choir has in the past been a big drawcard for the Friends of Music, and so it was at this concert at the Durban Jewish Centre, attended by an enthusiastic audience of about 150 people and sponsored by the Jakamar Trust.

This 40-member choir (all boys) has won awards at international festivals, and deservedly so. The singing, discipline and understanding are first-rate and are a great testimonial to Angela Stevens, who has been in charge since the choir was formed 11 years ago and who conducted at this concert.

The programme format differed somewhat from previous occasions in that the choir performed only about half the items, the rest being taken up by instrumental and vocal soloists. The choir is undoubtedly the star performer, but presumably the intention in allocating solo items is to encourage young musicians and singers and give them a chance to show their abilities.

This was a popular concert, with no pretensions to presenting classical music, except for an interesting saxophone version of a piece by the early eighteenth century Italian composer Benedetto Marcello and a brief composition by Max Reger. For the rest, it was well-known music, light-hearted and romantic, with some attractive novelties such as a Serbian folk song and an extended and evocative piece called Safari by a Norwegian named Jan Magne Forde, both of these given by the choir.

The concert was given a rousing start with the first item, Rock and Roll is Here to Stay, sung with great animation and plenty of body movement and gestures. There were songs by Freddie Mercury, George Gershwin and Billy Joel and a tribute to Nelson Mandela by the Cape Town musician Abdullah Ibrahim. And at the end a “folklore medley” offered some uninhibited ethnic material, with whistling, shouting, stamping, bird calls and a really remarkable simulation of a thunderstorm.

It all made a most enjoyable evening. I am reluctant to talk about quotas, as some sports administrators do, but I think I should mention that nearly half the members of the choir are black youngsters from Kearsney College. The obvious camaraderie in the entire group of singers was truly impressive, black and white in close harmony. Would that the music of our lives was always thus. - Michael Green




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