I was lucky enough to go and listen to The Wits Choir the other night at The Wits Theatre. What an extraordinary, inspiring and mind-blowing experience. It was at the end of the day after a huge march through Johannesburg against xenophobia, and a thought provoking way to end an emotional day.
The Wits Choir (of the University of the Witwaterstrand) is an incredibly diverse group of musicians, from all over Africa. They are bright and colourful, not only in their stage presence but also in the blend of cultures – singers from South Africa, Ghana, the DRC, Kenya, Zimbabwe and the USA – all studying at Wits.
The conductor is the very accomplished Dalene Hoogenhout who has been working with the choir since 1995. The choir sing in English, Shona, French and a host of other African languages, forging a truly unique, cosmopolitan sound.
Their clothing is magnificent. Bright African colours and fabrics, beautiful headdresses and scarves, vivacious and alive. I want a few of the dresses that the girls wore! And the dancing – sublime.
There were many highlights of the night. The song ‘Weeping’ got the audience to their feet, singing, roaring, crying and dancing. The audience themselves were a highlight – the theatre was packed to capacity and the audience loved every single minute. And the meaning of the songs, the power they evoked, their messages of peace and beauty, were astonishing.
The Choir sang for peace. They had cancelled a tour to Namibia as they wanted to be part of the march in Johannesburg ‘against xenophobia’. I sat there listening to them, believing totally in the power of song. You live what you believe through music.
Viva, Wits Choir, Viva.