This past December, generous funding from the Rupert Foundation gave 16 senior students from the Keiskamma Music Academy the opportunity to share their talent with audiences along the Sunshine Coast, to experience the thrill and the hardships of being 'on the road', and to work together as a team in a variety of situations.
The tour began on December 19th with a lunchtime concert in Grahamstown Cathedral, followed later in the day by a recital in Port Alfred, the finale of the 'Classics at the Castle' series for 2011. On December 20th the Keiskamma Ensemble performed at Shamwari Game Reserve, where guests were surprised and delighted by the group's appearance out in the bush during the evening game drive. Our convoy of musicians continued to Knysna for two lunchtime performances at the Waterfront on December 21st and 22nd. The group was also invited to Fancourt Resort to be the principal contributor to their Carols by Candlelight celebration. On December 23rd, the group's final appearance before heading home was at the Turbine Hotel, Knysna.
Grahamstown cathedral: Siphelo, Lihle, Zimkitha
While at Knysna, the group stayed together. These young people do not have opportunities to participate in school excursions or camps, so this was a wonderful learning experience: sharing a dormitory, supporting each other, being responsible for themselves and their equipment all added up to a valuable lesson in self-development.
Due to the intensity of the performance schedule over the 5 day tour, students gained valuable experience playing their concert repertoire. They achieved new musical insight into the pieces they played regularly; they grew as musicians and as ensemble players. The students also learnt quickly how to cope with playing in the wind or the blazing sun!
Our audiences were often taken aback at the talent of our Keiskamma musicians. A frequent comment was that our music is so different from what audiences often hear young South Africans performing. It was sensitive, diverse, highly professional and played with an infectious enthusiasm. One lady was so moved by the ensemble's performance of the Hallelujah Chorus that she left her meal in the restaurant to run outside and talk to the group in person. In Port Alfred, our reputation led to a sold out house already a week before the concert, and applause demanded two encores!
The tour will certainly be a memorable experience for these young people, helping them to further mature into confident young musicians and advocates of the value of music.
Keiskamma Ensemble performance during December 2012 at Shamwari Game Lodge
Brenda Fishwick and Jen Hoyer