Classic FM often plays pieces performed by the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble, but it was only recently that I learnt that the ensemble is largely a children's group; with a great story behind the formation and the success of the ensemble. Started 13 years ago by Rosemary Nalden, the project has grown tremendously and now features a number of support staff and many more participants. The project showcases an annual concert at the Linder Auditorium, and this year, it was particularly well advertised.
The standout highlight of the evening, for which the soloist, Simiso Radebe, got a thoroughly well deserved standing ovation, was Sarasate's Zigeunerweisen. The piece is fast, complex, and was extremely well played - and I would love to hear it with the backing of a full orchestra (check these Youtube videos out to hear it). The performance was actually breathtaking, given its incredible complexity towards the end of the piece, and he was well supported by the ensemble.
Another highlight piece was Fauré's Élégie, played by cellist, Gilbert Tsoke. As the name suggests, this piece is rather somber, but in many respects is well complemented by a Cello.
The concert also highlighted the multiple talents of many of the key ensemble members, either with singing (there were two Jazz pieces, and a few more traditional Kwela pieces at the end of the show), or other instruments (mostly percussion instruments).
In the program, Rosemary Nalden (who also conducted the whole performance), notes that yesterday was a notable achievement in hosting an International rugby match in Soccer City (or FNB Stadium), in Soweto - and that hopefully one day art programs like her ones would get similar attention and patronage. My personal opinion is, that a Soccer City like venue would actually detract from the performance; but the ensemble definitely has the talent; and programs like Buskaid and others, should really get better billing and more exposure. And perhaps, they can spread their wings and play around South Africa too - because they deserve to be seen and heard.