In celebration of its 25th anniversary, the Shallaway Youth Choir will travel to South Africa from Aug. 15-25 to perform and understand the difficult history of the country.
Approximately 100 choristers, faculty and friends of the award-winning organization will participate in the tour.
“Musical excellence and cultural leadership have been the hallmarks of our organization since it was created in 1992,” says Susan Knight, founder and artistic director emerita. “The imposition of the cod moratorium resulted in economic and cultural devastation, producing an urgently felt need to guard and protect our heritage. Our young people, with their passion and capacity, were ideal to lead this charge.”
Over the past 25 years, the choir has travelled annually to countries such as Nicaragua, China, Costa Rica, Cuba and Argentina, as well as across Newfoundland and Labrador and Canada and many locations in the United States. In 2015, it was named Children’s Choir of the World at the Llangollen Music Festival in Wales.
“With the world celebrating what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100 birthday recently, the Shallaway family will have a rare window into the nation’s experience and history of apartheid and Mandela’s mission to end it,” says Richard Gosse, chair of the board of directors.
For Gosse, cultural learning experiences, such as the trip to South Africa, are important for young people.
The choristers will travel to the Robben Island prison where Mandela was held for 18 of his 27-year prison sentence for protesting apartheid.
“Just like Mandela said, we can change the world and make it a better place, we teach our choristers to be participatory citizens,” says Gosse.
In addition to visiting the prison, the choir will go to Ndebele village to see the Lesedi Cultural Show, Hector Pietrson Museum, Pilanesburg National Park, an orphanage and the Apartheid Museum.
They will participate in an interactive Djembe drumming and dancing session, and concerts and workshops with conductors Lhente Mari Pitout and the University of Pretoria Youth Choir, Marijke De Villiers Roos of the University of Cape Town and Sidumo Nyamazele of the University of Johannesburg.
The choir will perform in various locations in Johannesburg and Cape Town, including primary schools, the University of Pretoria and Regina Mundi Church.
“Choral music is the instrument through which we develop empathetic, respectful young leaders in our province,” says artistic director Kellie Walsh.