Bo-Kaap Ghoema Theatre was host to a historic collaboration between the 7 Steps Malay cultural group and the Wits Choir on Saturday evening. Photo: Ian Landsberg / African News Agency (ANA)
Cape Times – The Bo-Kaap Ghoema Theatre was host to a historic collaboration between a Cape Town minstrel group and the Wits Choir at the weekend.

A Malay choir, The 7 Steps Cultural Group, shared the stage with the culturally diverse university choir in the historic suburb on Saturday.

The Wits Choir is visiting the region and partnering with several music ensembles to experience local choral compositions.

Founder of the 7 Steps Cultural Group, Kader Miller, said the performance came together when the conductor of Wits Choir, Dalene Hoogenhout, sought out a Malay cultural singing choir .

“Dalene contacted a tour guide and said she wanted to collaborate with a Malay choir, and as the Bo-Kaap Ghoema Theatre is a tourist attraction, the guide suggested us. We didn’t just focus on the music. 

"Dalene asked and we provided the Wits choir with a tour of the historic Bo-Kaap, and I invited them for a traditional Cape Malay meal,” said Miller.

The 7 Steps Cultural Group was named after the musical hub in the then District Six - the 7 Steps - and its founding was to keep that history and culture alive for future generations, Miller said.

The choirs had about an hour before the concert to rehearse.

“To think we were contacted a few weeks ago, and we shared the songs we wanted to perform through WhatsApp and sent videos and it all came together so beautifully!

“The theatre has been a platform for Cape Town’s artists and to be the venue for such an achievement is just amazing,” said Miller.

The groups performed two traditional minstrel songs - the popular Daar Kom die Alibama and Welcome to Cape Town.

Hoogenhout said the visit to the Bo-Kaap had a profound effect on her and the choir.

“The experience we have been given by Kader, the 7 Steps Cultural Group, and the community of Bo Kaap, has been phenomenal. 

"We had the opportunity to meet and speak to people to better understand the suburb, which has now achieved National Heritage Status,” she said.

Hoogenhout added that the Wits choir visit began with a performance with the UCT choir last week, a mass at St Mary’s Cathedral, and a visit to the Spier Wine Estate.

The tour was about building relationships through music and had been a positive enriching experience, Hoogenhout said.