Marimba band bring a taste of Africa to China

2013-07-29 00:00

THE Hilton College Marimba band have drawn rave reviews and huge admiration from international audiences after a recent tour to China.

The band have gone from strength to strength in the last five years and head of the music department Brett Udal says that while he keeps an eye on them, their own commitment and creativity is what keeps them on top.

After winning an international competition last year in two categories, Udal said: “I tell them never to get arrogant, because then they will lose focus. I say they must let the ­music speak for them and that is what they do.

“When we went to China we brought a taste of Africa as we chose a specific African theme and we were also very well prepared, and this showed when we performed.

“The boys just love the music they make and you can see it when they play; they just exude this joy and each member of the band gets a chance to do something that reveals a piece of their personality.”

The band went to China as part of the Beijing Tutti Music Festival, which invites talented musical groups from schools all over the world.

There were many groups that participated from Australia and Asia, but only a handful from South Africa. The festival encourages the pupils to participate in masterclasses and to learn about other musical cultures.

Langa Dubazana, a band member, believes the group’s success is that they are open to ideas and they have a great vibe. He said the festival was a chance for him to learn to improvise and to think outside the box.

“It was challenging and I think we grew individually and as a group.”

Terry Matsa said the band feels more like a big family and they all get the chance to contribute ideas.

Marimba tutor Brian Clarke was workshopping ideas with the band this weekend before their participation in the International Marimba and Steelpan Festival, a competition in Johannesburg next month.

He says their key ingredients are energy, fun and flexibility. “It is always important to keep your audience engaged and to keep them guessing, and these boys have skill and that extra element of surprise.”

The boys shyly admit that being in a marimba band scores them extra credits with the girls. But they keep the pressure on themselves to keep winning competitions.

• Hear the Hilton Marimba band perform at the Women’s Day concert on August 9. Book through the Hilton Theatre on 033 383 0126.

See the boys performing on YouTube at:

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