Friday, January 3, 2014

Young Africans Concert

For years I've heard of the African Children's Choir (hereafter, ACC).

Only recently have I heard of the Young Africans Choir (hereafter, YAC).

The African Children's Choir is a part of an organization for children called Music for Life which works in several countries of Africa that lifts the children, literally sometimes, out of the slums and provides a better life and many opportunities.

One such opportunity is the African Children's Choir.

The Young Africans Choir is made up of young people who have progressed through the ranks of the children's choir. It is a group of 14 young people who sing, dance, and play instruments.

During the concert a few of the young people gave testimonials about how the African Children's Choir changed their lives and gave them hope.

While I do not know the exact number of young people who were in the children's choir I do not believe all the members of the YAC. I don't know for sure and I could certainly be mistaken, but it was a feeling I got that not all of them had risen through the ranks of the ACC.  Just made me think it was a bit misleading.

The music they performed was primarily traditional African fare with the familiar call-and-response form. Some songs were more contemporary gospel tunes. They were more successful on the traditional pieces as the melodies and harmonies for those are simpler; there were some intonation problems primarily in the contemporary tunes.

I liked that nearly every singer was given the opportunity to sing a solo at some point during the concert. This in itself shows the abilities of the singers.

The dancing was quite energetic as most African dance is, but the movements themselves were not so difficult. It was just the speed at which they were performed.  I imagine it takes a lot of coordination. I also felt that the group at times struggled successfully to complete their dances in the space that was available.

One piece was all instrumental. I thought this part of the program was well planned. During this part the members of the group performed on traditional African instruments. Each instrument was played by a pair of singers and the sound of each one was layered upon the others as it was introduced. The instruments played were xylophone (played by 2 players sitting across from each other with the xylo between them), harp, pipes (we'd call them panpipes), shakers (flat - looked like a pizza box shaker), horn (from some animal), and drums.

The costumes were very colorful and traditional African. First they wore tunics with capris, then they added short grass skirts. Near they end they dressed formally in colorful gowns and dress shirts with gray pants. Finally they were once again in traditional African garb. I was impressed with the number of costume changes that took place during a 1.5 hr concert.

The majority of the audience was made up of white people many of whom had probably never seen or heard this type of music - the drumming was very powerful, the dancing often tribal and sensual, the music repetitive and constant.

It was a very good show.

Minus the solicitation for donations for their organization, but then this is how they raise money so I am not complaining.