Tuesday, January 26, 2010
It’s not every day one gets to hear a soulful South African choir sing rousing renditions of Bob Marley’s One Love and Paul Simon’s Bridge Over Troubled Water, but that’s exactly what happened to me on Saturday night. Just as I’d predicted, the Soweto Gospel Choir was the perfect beginning to this year’s Bermuda Festival of Performing Arts—a weeks-long music, theater and dance festival that kicked off last Wednesday. And judging by the boisterous applause the ensemble got from the crowd, I’m pretty sure I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed the show. Formed in 2002, the choir has quickly become an overnight sensation, not only winning Grammy Awards for best traditional world music album in 2007 and 2008, but also performing for esteemed guests, most notably Nelson Mandela at the first of the 46664 concerts in 2003 (its name derived from the South African leader’s prison number). They’ve since performed the world over collaborating with Bono, Peter Gabriel and even the Red Hot Chili Peppers during a concert in Germany. Beyond the choir’s passionate voices, it entertained the crowd with spirited dance and four thumping percussionists who wowed the audience with their brand of African drumming. Considering this was the choir’s second visit to Bermuda it’s likely they’ll be back again—so for all of you who missed the show, be sure to tune in this time next year. My tickets were worth every penny. In the meantime stay tuned for the festival's next big performance: the Afro-Cubano Latin Lazz Orchestra led by pianist Arturo O'Farrill. Now that's good times.