Johannesburg - Education Africa has kicked off a music extravaganza, Sounds of Celebration, on Sunday, June 26 to Sunday, July 3, this year. They have a reason to celebrate.
Two years after going virtual due to the national disaster restrictions to combat the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, the inspiring event brings children from various schools back to the stage to perform popular songs, for international audiences, via a virtual feed.
This 9th instalment will begin with the premiere viewing at 5pm CAT under the theme, That’s Life! There will be a video available for on-demand viewing 7 days after the premiere.
Sounds of Celebration is a showcase by children honouring their cultural diversity and unique musical talents expressed on a range of instruments: marimba, steel pan, penny whistle and Scottish bagpipes.
Sounds of Celebration Musical Director Joan Lithgow said this year’s performers will be alongside local music makers such as the Ndlovu Youth Choir, music duo Pops Mohamed and Dave Reynolds (who have performed in over 200 concerts together), and Magda De Vries, South Africa’s classical marimba queen.
“We are extremely excited to have our newly-formed Alumni Marimba Band performing with the legendary award-winning duo: Pops Mohamed and Dave Reynolds,” says Musical Director and Education Africa Marimba Specialist, Joan Lithgow.
The children will feature from the schools: Masibambane College in Orange Farm; Dominican School For Deaf Children in Hammanskraal, the only deaf marimba band in the world; MCK Special Needs School from Lenasia; Sekampaneng Primary from Hammanskraal, John Wesley Community Centre in Etwatwa; The Boys and Girls Clubs of Vrededorp and Protea Glen; Goede Hoop Primary School from Reiger Park as well as the Alumni All-Stars Marimba Band.
Marimba bands of CBC Boksburg and Jeppe High School for Boys, as well as the Jack Lerole Jnr Penny Whistle Quartet, participate as friends of Education Africa.
“Staging the celebratory concert in the month of June is no coincidence,” says Lithgow, referencing the country’s annual commemoration of Youth Day, June 16. She says it reflects on the contribution of past youth activists and the opportunities offered to children in education.
“Education Africa is all about empowering our youth to become better citizens through our various projects. Our Holistic Marimba Training Programme that is implemented in 19 Marimba Hubs does just this,” said Lithgow.
One of the instructors, Rose Moloi, who is also a Grade R teacher at the Dominican School For Deaf Children in Hammanskraal, said that the annual concert is highly anticipated by both school children and educators involved. “Ever since we started with them (Education Africa) in 2018, it’s been so much fun for the kids. They enjoy it, we (educators) love it. The children’s parents also love to come watch and support,” Moloi said.
Moloi said that with the disaster regulations which compelled the organisers to stage the event on a virtual platform, many parents and guardians have asked staff to return to live performances after so long a while under lockdown restrictions. “We told them that they can watch online, but they all said, ‘No. We don’t want to be online, we want to see you on stage. That’s how much we love this event’,” Moloi says.
Having joined Dominican School For Deaf Children in 2018, Moloi teaches marimba to children from grade R to grade 12. However, for the concert, she will be joined by grade 8 to grade 12 students. One of the songs to be performed is Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me” (1960/1961).
Moloi expressed her continuous hope for others to understand the talent and skills that children possess are not limited to them despite societal views. “Coming from the deaf community, I hope that people will learn and see that nothing can stop us. Even those who label us as disabled, cannot stop us. If you are able to do things differently, you are able. It’s just that you are able to in a different way.”
Lithgow expressed similar feelings. “When asked why I teach music, the answer is never to create good music or musicians. It is always the other ‘things’ that music engagement does for children. Team-building, confidence building, developing listening skills for life, sensitivity. If I get good music out as well, it is a bonus.”
For more information on Education Africa and to purchase tickets visit www.educationafrica.org.