Medicine Hat News
March 18, 2010
An extravagant display of dance, artistry and music with hauntingly beautiful harmony filled the Esplanade Arts and Heritage Centre on Wednesday evening.
Playing to an almost sold out house, the Soweto Gospel Choir entertained the audience with symphonic harmonies emanating from deep cultural traditions and pride, revealing an emotion from deep within their hearts.
It was the sort of spine-tingling music that stirs emotions and inspires. They had the audience join their celebration and mere clapping just didn’t seem adequate.
What had begun on a darkened stage with the mellifluous voice of a soprano soloist piercing the night slowly turned into a riot of colour as the choir members appeared in magnificent African costumes.
It went beyond a “joyful noise unto the Lord” (Psalm 100). It was an artistic tapestry — a celebration of life — of utter joy. The audience was in awe and it was easy to imagine angels and the Lord approving.
One of the delights of African music is the innate use of rhythm. There was an infectious quality about the Soweto Gospel Choir’s spontaneous dances of joy. They displayed an amazing agility in rapid dance moves, which had the audience applauding and gasping at their ability.
They sang in numerous languages, including English, Afrikaans, Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho but they actually have no need of a specific language to cross cultural barriers.
From one melody the audience identified an old gospel hymn — “Mercy there was grace and grace was free…. at Calvary,” and soon many were softly joining in with the English version.
There were songs giving the audience a glimpse of African life, such as Die Ou Kalahari — which any South African would have identified with — and favourites from the past such as Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Waters.
The choir was first mobilised in 2002. Audience demand for their concerts has seen them perform in Australia, the United Kingdom, various countries across Europe, the USA and Canada.
They are on tour about 10 months out of every year. The choir is still made up of 80 or 90 per cent of the original group.
From beginning to end there were no half measures in their performance on Wednesday night.
The Rainbow nation of South Africa sent its very best to entertain Hatters last night and the audience loved it.