On a cold Sunday afternoon in Diepkloof, a hall filled with proud parents, grandparents and friends applauded and cheered as young Sowetan musicians performed classical music by JS Bach and Joseph Bologne.
Bologne, a black 18th-century musician from Guadeloupe, is widely acclaimed as a composer of classical music.
The free concert by the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble in the Dutch Reformed Church was conducted by Buskaid founder Rosemary Nalden, who started the musical school 26 years ago.
Founder of Buskaid
Nalden, a graduate of the Royal College of Music in London, visited South Africa from England in 1992, after hearing a story on BBC radio about how young string musicians in Soweto were struggling for funding.
She returned in 1997 with the intention of setting up a musical school in Soweto to provide quality music education for young talents in the surrounding neighbourhoods. Nalden never found her way back to England and has instead spent the last 26 years passing on her knowledge of music.
Providing Opportunities for Children
Buskaid’s mission is to provide children from poor backgrounds the opportunity to learn classical stringed instruments and forge their own careers.
Many older members of the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble, which captivated the audience on Sunday, are accomplished musicians and play alongside the younger members following in their footsteps.
“It’s really amazing to see these kids performing so well,” said resident Enock Nkosi as she watched the performance with a broad smile. “It just goes to show that if young people are provided with opportunities they can express themselves fully. There is so much talent in Soweto, I’m very proud of these kids.”
The group is busy with preparations for their annual concert, which will take place at the Linder auditorium on 6 August.