If you have ever had the privilege of attending a ‘Sounds of Celebration’ concert, you will be left in no doubt as to the powerful influence music has on the process of bonding people together. In what has become a much-anticipated annual event, young performers from all walks of life inspire audiences as they take to the stage and enact a true portrayal of social cohesion.
For the fourth consecutive year, Education Africa and Sydenham Shul showcases some of the best young musical talent Johannesburg has to offer. This exuberant offering seamlessly blends different musical styles, instruments and performers in a joyful celebration that is truly South African. In the process of acknowledging and celebrating unique talents and heritages, Sounds of Celebration IV achieves unity. This year, the aim of the project is further underlined by the concert’s theme: Unity through sport; One Team. One Goal.
The project was originally conceptualised by Education Africa’s CEO James Urdang and musical director Joan Lithgow. Together they approached Sydenham Shul to partner with them in an effort to reach out to disadvantaged communities and uplift their youth through the establishment of marimba hubs. These would provide training for both teachers and learners by making available safe spaces for creative expression.
Between 2013 and 2016, the Sounds of Celebration project opened 3 Marimba Hubs – at Ithute, in Alexandra, the Zama Montessori School, in Daveyton and the Boys and Girls Club of Protea Glen. These musical centres serve not just their host schools but also benefit neighbouring learning centres in the surrounding areas. King David Senior Primary School, Linksfield, so inspired by their participation and partnership with their sister school Ithute, opened their own marimba hub in 2014 and since then, collaborative partnerships have formed between their learners and young musicians from the John Wesley Centre, Etwatwa. The two groups performed together at the International Steelpan and Marimba festival, earning special mentions for their efforts in facilitating social cohesion. This year’s proceeds will be used to open two new hubs, one in Hammanskraal and the other at the Boys and Girls Club in Bertrams, while continuing the commitment to sustain and expand existing Hubs.
Children who have had the opportunity to join neighbourhood hubs have written to express the myriad ways in which marimba has changed their lives. These children talk about the joy of playing music as part of a band and the gratification of learning a new skill which requires commitment and dedication. Many of the children speak of their involvement with marimba bringing new focus and how much they have been encouraged to prioritise healthy learning pursuits. They have expressed gratitude for the opportunity to immerse themselves in creativity while simultaneously avoiding negative outside social influences on the streets.
“Music is one way for young people to connect with themselves, but it is also a bridge for connecting with others. Through music we can introduce children to the richness and diversity of the human family and to the myriad rhythms of life.” (Daniel a Carp, former chairman and CEO of Eastman Kodak Company).
This remarkable and truly unique concert exemplifies all that is possible when many come together to serve one purpose and when the team plays with all its heart for a single goal. At the Sounds of Celebration IV concert, Scottish pipes will perform Queen’s ‘We will rock you’ while multi-instrumentalist Justin Wilman accompanies marimbas performing ‘The Final Countdown’. Rapper Thami Ngwenya joins Jewish singer Choni G in an energetic rendition of Mandoza’s ‘Nkalakatha’ and a steelpan band interprets ‘Die Bokke.’ If you can imagine a stage of 150 massed performers showcasing ‘Waka Waka’, the official 2010 Fifa World Cup Song you may have some tingling anticipation of what treats are in store for you. Of course, because the project is all about social cohesion, audience participation is compulsory.
Support this enterprising and far reaching project by joining us for a unique experience on Tuesday 14 March at 19:45 at Emperors Palace, Theatre of Marcellus. Tickets are reasonably priced between R60 and R120. Bookings at www.ticketpro.co.za or at CNA Norwood, Postnet Glenhazel and other selected outlets. For more information about the project and the concerts contact Education Africa 011 685 7300 or Sydenham Shul 011 640 5021.