Cross-cultural choir cheer for Christmas

The Ingoma Choir performing at a concert at Riverside in February earlier this year.

A new choir will be rocking Hout Bay’s streets this Christmas, spreading festive cheer and bringing people together.

The choir, still without a name, will branch off from the Hout Bay Ingoma Choir (HBIC), which was formed in 2017.

HBIC was privately sponsored by Tanya Blacher with the vision to “celebrate the beauty of African choral” as well as to explore singing as a route to personal and social upliftment.

Now Ms Blacher has moved onto to a new adventure and is in search of talented singers from in and around Hout Bay.

She said: “It’s been an amazing experience to develop the Ingoma Choir as music and singing are such unifiers. But in concentrating on African Choral, I was always slightly aware that we were being slightly exclusive, in an environment where we already have too many barriers between our communities.”

With the thought of Christmas carols being a natural opportunity for collaboration, Ms Blacher decided to join forces, approaching Mike’s Rock Choir.

“I found out about Mike’s Rock Choir, it just leapt out as an opportunity to get people singing together,” she said.

They enjoyed a great deal of success since coming together, being hired for numerous weddings and private events, enjoying sold-out concerts, appearing on TV as well as performing on the KFM K-Day stage in front of
30 000 people earlier this year.

“This year, we want to build further on that success and make it a very inclusive, cross-community entertainment strand, reflecting the inclusiveness and diversity of both the local environment and the school,” Ms Blacher said.

The choir has no cost attached, but Ms Blacher said members would have to be committed, make themselves available for rehearsals and would not need to audition.

“It will be a lot of fun, but naturally there is a bit of commitment expected – singers need to make themselves available Monday evenings from September to early December. There is no cost in being part of this choir,” she said.

They are also currently working on a lift-sharing scheme to enable people without their own transport to get to and from rehearsals.

Their confirmed debut gig will take place at the International School in early December, but they are hoping to sing more, at least, in the run-up to Christ-
mas.

“There’s already been interest from Mainstream Mall. As well as carols, there might be a little bit of Johnny Clegg,” Ms Blacher said, trying not to give too much away.

The choir is set to be headed up by Mike Pilot.

Mr Pilot, an experienced singer, musician, guitarist, arranger and producer, set up a “Rock Choir” earlier this year for local residents to sing rock and pop songs.

“Hout Bay is such a special place with such incredible diversity in a small area, and Christmas Carols are a form of song which have relevance in all the communities,” Ms Blacher said.

Zine Gwija, 25, from Imizamo Yethu, has been a member of the Ingoma Choir since the start and said: “It has been an amazing experience and pleasure to be part of the choir. It has brought us, the community of IY, together, and it helps us share our talents.”

She found it “very exciting” to have the whole of Hout Bay coming together as she claimed, “music plays a major role in these communities”.

“I’m very excited about this project because it is going to help us transcend language and culture. Christmas is all about family and we as Hout Bay are a family,” she proudly said.

From Tarragona is Nicky Broxis, a teacher by day and choir member at night.

She said: “I’m so excited about this cross community choir. Music is such a powerful and positive way to bring people together and unite us. Singing is a shared passion for all of us and Christmas is the perfect time to be singing with people from our whole community and creating something special together.”

Ms Broxis is especially looking forward to singing with the amazing voices of the Ingoma Choir and the talented Hangberg singers. “What a privilege”, she added. “This is going to be a unique collaboration and I know it will bring joy to the Hout Bay community as a whole.”

* The choir will rehearse weekly on Monday evenings in central Hout Bay, from Monday September 2. For more information on the choir or how to jump on board, email houtbaychoir@gmail.com or contact Mike on 083 548 1108 or Tanya on 081 854 6780.