School swings: Visiting jazz combo thrills Northbury pupils and teachers

2013-03-20 00:00

NORTHBURY Park Secondary School was mesmerised for an hour yesterday by the sounds of jazz from the Milton Academy Jazz Combo, a group of young artists from the U.S.

Pupils and teachers were captivated by tunes like Phatha Phata and The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

Pupils snapped their fingers, clapped and danced or captured the performance by taking videos with their cellphones.

Every song was followed by explosive applause. As an encore, the group played an Abdullah Ibrahim tune.

One pupil said the music made her happy and inspired.

The jazz combo are not strangers to South Africa or Northbury Park.

They visited the school two years ago and this time around they donated musical instruments and books. They also gave instruments to Eastwood Secondary School.

The group is headed by Bob Sinicrope, an accomplished double bassist and multi-instrumentalist.

Tshwane University of Technology programme co-ordinator Professor Chats Devroop was instrumental in bringing the combo to Pietermaritzburg.

Devroop said the arts in South Africa were in disarray.

“It seems as if there’s a pot of money in which everyone seems to dip into, but we don’t see the preservation and development.”

His big concern was pupils who perform poorly in matric, he said.

“The arts world is a place where a lot of them can find the space. This is where we encourage them to see the possibility and other careers they can have and how much fun they can have.”

Devroop praised his former teacher, now Northbury Park principal Kiran Maharaj, saying he was the first teacher to introduce music in a non-white school while teaching at Raisethorpe High School.

“He fought for us to have music at school. Even now he’s still committed to the arts,” he added.

Maharaj said their school band was extremely talented and had received instruments from generous donors.

“We’ve got everything — saxophones, drum kits, French horns — and we didn’t buy a single thing, not a cent. When I hear the school choir in the morning, it’s so brilliant,” he added.

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