Sep 10 2009
Tuesday’s performance in Hall Two was an unusually intimate one for the Soweto Gospel Choir, on their current tour of the UK before they venture to the Netherlands, South Africa and Tokyo.
Originally hailing from churches in South Africa’s largest township, the choir usually play main halls with a full band and 26 singers – but on Tuesday they were singing a cappella (unaccompanied) and in the round to a full house of just 400.
A chatty audience was silenced as one male singer took to the stage with two djembe drummers, followed moments later by the entire choir in colourful traditional dress.
A glorious feast of harmony and exuberance instantly brought Hall Two to life.
The concert moved through a mostly traditional African repertoire with an energy and enthusiasm that made it painful to be constrained to a chair.
A few international numbers brought the house down, including a cheek-tingling rendition of Amazing Grace.
The a cappella set showed off the individually astounding voices, while the quality and precision of the choir’s dynamic ensemble arrangements were overwhelming.
Abandoning my seat, I danced in the aisle for the second half where traditional Zulu and Xhosa numbers built up to a finale of Oh Happy Day with the audience singing and dancing in celebration.
It was a fitting reaction to the inspirational performance we had seen.