The Cape Cultural Collective performed their Big Bash Artscape concert in September. Picture: Supplied
Cape Town - Bishop Lavis burst into ecstatic jubilation earlier this month as crowds gathered to hear local teenager Paxton Fielies had triumphed in Idols SA.

Elsewhere in the area, out of the public gaze, a group of senior residents of the Huis Alleyne complex are busy with their own choral pursuits.

Under the direction of Esme Wiener and the support of guitarist Zackie Johnson, these budding singers first warm up their vocal chords before bursting forth in spirited renditions of various songs.

The choral project was initiated by the Cape Cultural Collective (CCC) and Vulamathuba (formerly Communicare) at the end of October. Vulamathuba was convinced the Collective’s track record in uniting people and promoting personal development could be placed at the service of residents of its housing complexes.

It is the CCC’s third choir project, following in the footsteps of the popular Rosa Choir and its younger counterpart, the Junior Rosa Choir.

All three choirs sing in English, Afrikaans and Xhosa.

The latest initiative comes in the final stages of a momentous 10th anniversary year for the CCC, which has grown from humble beginnings in a local pub to a powerful arts and culture platform.

Bienyameen Camroodien and his Flamenco Troupe set the stage alight at the Big Bash Artscape. Picture: Supplied

Following its new status as a registered NPO by the end of 2016, the organisation went up a few gears with monthly cultural programmes that grew in quality and depth and the steady advance of its two choirs.

In April, the CCC received a boost when it won a Department of Arts and Culture award.

In July, the organisation initiated a Concert for Healing and Social Justice in Elsies River as an act of solidarity following the murder of three-year-old Courtney Pieters.

The highlight of the 10th anniversary celebration year took place in September with the staging of the Big Bash concert at Artscape, a sold-out production that included poetry, music, dance and comedy.

Directed by Basil Appolis, the production reflected the remarkable story of the CCC as it grew steadily into a significant cultural force.

Over the span of 10 years, the CCC has hosted some 80 monthly cultural programmes incorporating genres ranging from flamenco, rap, jazz, belly-dancing, comedy, rage poetry, capoeira dance and magic.

In a city deeply divided along class, race and other fault lines, the CCC has managed to repeatedly put together programmes where both the artist line-up and the audiences were strikingly diverse in their make-up.

Four major community concerts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of UWC in 2010, a poetry anthology in 2011 and a poetry production at the Paris Autumn Festival in 2013 are just a few of the collective’s productions.

As the CCC story unfolded, it drew people from the suburbs into its ranks while deepening its roots in places such as Manenberg, Langa and Mitchells Plain where cultural formations and talented individuals could draw strength from participating in a City-wide network.

The launch of the 30-strong Rosa choir in 2012 brought a new dimension. Here was a diverse group, transcending class, race, religion and gender, working together on a permanent basis and singing in the languages of this region.

Apart from its musical growth, the choir is helping participants come to grips with our painful past and together forge a future of greater understanding.

The choir is ably led by Tersia Harley and this year it performed at weddings, international conferences and concerts. Singers Aziza Davids, Thambi Baba, Chris Blaauw and a team of musicians at times perform as a “mini choir” at events.

Ernestine Deane and musicians belt it out at the Cape Cultural Collective’s 10th-anniversary launch. Picture: Supplied

Over the years a range of cultural activists, artists and performers have put their energies into building the CCC.

They include Thulani Nxumalo, Zenariah Barends, June Knight, Amanda Nodada, Zolani Pitolo, Mogamat Taupe Jacobs, Christopher Ferndale, Mark Antony Jannecke, Heather van Niekerk, Elton Goslett, Kay Jaffer, Hilary Oostendorp, Ncebakazi Mnukwana, Lorna Houston, Candice Prinsloo, Evangeline Du Plessis, Primrose Mrwebi, Romeo Maasdorp, Lynn Dreyer and Zani Taitz.

The year is not yet over and a hive of activity is planned for December. On Sunday, December 10, at the Slave Church in Long Street, the Rosa adults and juniors, as well as the singers from Huis Alleyne, will join up for a carols programme from 6 pm.

To round the year off, a fundraiser is to be held at St Paul’s Church Hall in Rondebosch on December 15 at 7 pm, with good food, DJ music and raffles with grand prizes.

Over 10 years the CCC has had big outcomes with minimal resources. It has no office, staff, furniture or cars.

The funds are used for projects and to develop the children. The collective has asked those who love the arts and want to see people unite and children be developed, to consider joining this platform to help the CCC strengthen its outcomes. 

Weekend Argus