Last modified: Wednesday, September 22, 2004
University of Namibia’s Dynamic Choir to perform Monday at IU's Black Culture Center
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Early next week, Indiana University will host one of Africa's most dynamic young choral ensembles, the University of Namibia Choir. Currently on its first tour of the United States, under the sponsorship of the U.S. Department of State, the UNAM Choir will spend three days in Indiana. They will perform, give workshops and interviews, and meet with fellow musicians and students on IU's Bloomington and East campuses.
A concert on Monday (Sept. 27) at IU Bloomington will be free and open to the public. It will take place in the Grand Hall of the Neal-Marshall Black Culture Center, 275 N. Jordan Ave., from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Afterwards, the public is invited to meet informally with choir members to talk about their music, their country, their university and their impressions of the United States.
Created in 1997, the 50-person UNAM Choir is considered one of Namibia's cultural gems. They prefer to sing in four-voice a capella that is traditional in Africa, occasionally accompanied by drums or a small band. Their repertoire consists of religious, concert, traditional and folk music. They sing in all Namibian languages -- six African and three European (German, English and Afrikaans).
The choir has toured in Africa and Europe, with performances that have been described as "a breathtaking kaleidoscope of the finest choral and dance traditions and cultural rituals of Namibia's various indigenous communities and of the African continent itself, often woven into a tapestry of original musicals." Their performances have received standing ovations at state events, international conferences, cultural festivals and competitions. They have even evoked spontaneous public dancing during impromptu exhibitions in airport lounges and shopping malls.
Their visit to the United States was made possible by invitations and support from the State Department, the Yale Glee Club Choir and other universities such as IU. For this inaugural U.S. tour, the choir, with a smaller group of 20 voices under the direction of its conductor, Bonnie Pereko, has produced a new program that is said to be more dramatic, inspirational and entertaining than anything it has done before.
In addition to the Monday night concert, the UNAM Choir will join the classes of the International Vocal Ensemble taught by Mary Goetze of the IU School of Music, and of the African American Choral Ensemble directed by James Mumford of the African American Arts Institute at IU.
The choir members will tour the Musical Arts Center and have an informal gathering with undergraduate students in the Wells Scholars Program and the Honors College. They also will tape a show at the Radio and Television Services building as guests of The Friday Zone. The show, hosted by Echo Shapell, is WTIU's Emmy Award-winning children's series that airs on PBS stations covering the Indianapolis metro area and south-central Indiana.
On Sept. 29, the choir will spend the day and give a performance at IU East in Richmond, which has had an important linkage program with the University of Namibia for the past two years.
The UNAM Choir's visit to IU is sponsored by the Office of International Programs, the African Studies Program, the Office of the Vice President for Institutional Development and Student Affairs and the Office of the Chancellor, IU East.