Thursday, February 17, 2005

an interview with a chorister

On friday, a travelled to a smart new shopping and office complex to meet a chorister from the new University choir for an interview. The first thing that struck me was how close this very smart venue is to the venue where the alexandra Youth choir meets, and yet how different it is. Admittedly, the university choir does not rehearse here, and the choir students do not necessarily all stay in areas like this, but the divide between the two choirs is huge. The young man I was meeting is an upwardly mobile, young businessman, with a confident manner, and a career. He exudes an air of confidence and sophistication.
In conversation, I was interested to note that he appears to spend little or no energy on imagining South Africa through the medium of choral singing/music. He commented that the "African Music" which the choir had sung up to this point was "fun", but that he was unsure of its musical value. He mentioned that it was enjoyed by overseas audiences. He also explained that in his opinion, Afrikaans, as a germanic language, with a musical tradition with germanic roots, was not part of this category of "African Music." He commented that he enjoys singing earlier music particularly, and mentioned chant specifically. I got the impression that choral singing for him is a spiritual and emotional experience, and has a lot to do with immersing himself in an aesthetically pleasing art form, rather than being a social interaction. I doubt he would describe it as spiritual, though he used what I interpreted as religious terms to describe the experience of choral singing. He expressed a deep loyalty to the choir conductor, and, as I have observed before, has a lot of respect for her musically and personally, and therefore continues to sing with the choir despite the changes that are about to happen. I am really eager to continue interviewing his fellow choristers, as I hope to identify some sort of pattern in the way they discuss the musical experience, and what they anticipate for the choir's future.

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