Monday, 16 July 2012

Keiskamma Music Academy at the National Arts Festival

Keiskamma Music Academy is proud to have completed three successful performances at the 2012 National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.  In addition to sharing our music with diverse audiences and attending many other Festival shows, the Music Academy received a Standard Bank Ovations Encore Award for excellence in music education.  This award will help fund a new production for the 2013 National Arts Festival.

It was wonderful to see our ensemble of fifteen senior students perform together at Festival.  Our concert included recorders, marimbas, percussion, flute, clarinets, saxophone, violins, and guitar.  Some of our students have been working hard on new instruments and have made incredible progress in their music making.  Before we began our dress rehearsal, we wrote a list of things to remember to help us play musically: smile; stand up straight; move with the music; look at each other.  One of the students called out a new addition: “play like we are a family”.

During our first concert, a solo flute came in three beats early.  Other students recognized the mistake instantly and glanced around nervously, working together to keep the music going.  The rest of the piece was shaky but finished in a polished, if unintended, ending.  Afterwards, the flautist approached with his head hanging: “please don’t say anything to me about that piece…”

“I won’t say anything at all about it.  But you need to say ‘thank you’ to all your friends for fixing it.”

A small smile, a head held higher, a little more confidence.  The next performance was perfect, happy glances exchanged as everyone found correct entrances.  Playing like a family.

In addition to our performing ensemble of fifteen students, the rest of the Keiskamma Music Academy joined us on the last day of Festival to participate in the fun of Grahamstown.  We enjoyed shopping at the market and watching a performance by the Los Angeles Children’s Choir.  Their concert included several African songs that were familiar to Keiskamma Music Academy children; the choristers were delighted to have such an enthusiastic audience.

As we wind down from the National Arts Festival, we are gearing up for UNISA exams in September and October, and we are excited about performances as part of the French Season in South Africa in November.  Watch this space for more details!

Text by Jen Hoyer

Photos by William Martinson