Thursday, February 2, 2017

West to South Africa

Eastern Cape Brass Band Festival
Sponsored by the Moravian Brass Band Union of South Africa

All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name is the selection you will hear in the video above.  The Moravian Church has been quite active in developing church brass bands for worship purposes.  The Moravian Brass Band Union has an active website, but activity seems to have ceased around 2014 or 2015.  Check out this website to see the organization and participating bands.

As I searched through dozens of pages and videos of brass bands in South Africa, I found numerous bands that march, entertain, and dance.  Some of these bands used saxophones, accordions, or other wind instruments for the religious and civic festivals.  I saw some incredibly large Besson tubas being  carried around in these street events.  No easy task even with a harness as they weigh between 15 and 20 pounds.  I would encourage you to watch some of these videos.  Since I play tuba and I despise the sound of a sousaphone, I was very impressed with the quality of sound the performers were making while marching with full size concert instruments.

This concert performance was one of the first traditional performances that I found.  Street performances have a unique cultural paradigm and they are very exciting to watch, but I wanted to witness the interaction between performer and audience in a concert performance.  I was not disappointed.  The wall that is present between performer and audience in the Western tradition is missing here.  There is direct interaction between the performers and audience.  You can see the energy trading sides during the performance.  The performance is also more intimate and spiritual for this reason.  I imagine the music educator and philosopher Christopher Small would approve, but that is pure speculation on my part.

Church performances are traditionally volunteer affairs in small churches and missions. The musicians tend to be community members giving a musical offering of sorts, and there is an honesty about sharing your faith through music that I admire in this context.  This performance is full of spirit.   The performers vary in age too.  No, this is not a great performance if you use the Western Standard of classical performance, but...  Yes this is a great performance if you consider the energy of the performers as they celebrate their faith through music.  Even if you are an atheist or agnostic, please consider that context as you listen.  Honest performance, honest faith, all being celebrated through music thousands of miles away from the Untied States.  Have a great weekend everyone.

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