Newsletter - February 2002

Maitisong, Maru a Pula School, P.Bag 0045, Gaborone, Botswana.

Tel: (267)371809; Fax: (267)584946.  e-mail: maitisong@info.bw

Edited by David Slater

BOTSWANA MUSIC CAMP 2001 

AN UNFORGETTABLE MUSICAL EXPERIENCE

I LOVE MUSIC - SIRIASE!

The Botswana Music Camp met for its 16th annual camp at the end of 2001 at Maru a Pula School. The enrolment had been raised to 110 participants and a choice of 10 performance groups was on offer. As usual, the marimba and the choral groups were the most popular but the two new groups, DANCE and ORCHESTRA, attracted quite some interest. But, as each group had a maximum allowed number some people had to make do with their second choices of groups.

 The whole point of the Music Camp is to give musicians a chance to spend a week doing nothing but making music together under the guidance of expert musicians from Botswana and beyond. And, from all reports, the 2001 Music Camp succeeded very well in this and the final performance was one of the best ever. It ended with a stirring performance of the 2001 Music Camp Song that used the year's motto 'I LOVE MUSIC - SIRIASE!' - and there was no doubt that everyone did love music, siriase!

DANCE was introduced and PHILLIP LETHOBA from Mafikeng came to lead it. His participants were mostly young dancers who came from traditional dance groups. He soon had them trying new contemporary style steps and doing things with their bodies they had not done before! The other new group, ORCHESTRA, was lead by ANN-NOELLE BENNETT. The enrolment was too small for it to function as an orchestra so the participants used the time to play in groups. It was a good beginning for both of these groups. The CHORAL group was lead by TSIETSI MOFOKENG from Soweto, a man of prodigious energy and talent. In no time he had the two choirs singing Mozart choruses in Italian as well as Setswana choral songs in a most impressive way. The MARIMBA group's MICHAEL SIBANDA deals very easily with the large number of marimbas and performers and they were soon playing and moving with style. Captain SIGHT MONGWEOTSILE is a very popular and revered figure on the Music Camp and the SEGABA group keenly learnt how to make music on this old Botswana instrument. The DRUM group was drawn into the beat by the charismatic MYIZER MATLHAKU and could string together catchy and complex rhythms as well as dance. TSILO BAITSILE lead the INSTRUMENTAL group with the flair and talent that makes him one of Botswana's best-known musicians. Although he is a professional musician, he can deal  with the different levels of players in his group. SOPHIE MGCINA came for a second time from Johannesburg to lead the young hopeful solo singers. Her experience and 'motherly' way got the group singing the right notes. FAITH KLEIN’s RECORDER group proved again what a useful instrument the recorder is: within a week the participants could read and play from music. Unfortunately, DAMO XIXAE from Maun was supposed to lead the SETINKANE group  but did not arrive having been stuck in Maun.

The sponsors of the Music Camp, VISTA, the BANK of BOTSWANA, K.M.S. TRUST, the AMERICAN EMBASSY, OP DESIGN, BOTSWANA LIFE INSURANCE, BOTSWANA CRAFT, HOUSE OF SOUND and the MUD HUT were invited to the Open Day during the Camp to be thanked publicly. They were shown around and entertained by Sight Mongweotsile and the Choral group and then addressed by SOLOMON MONYAME of the Mud Hut.

During the week the participants were entertained each evening and took part in the entertainment as well. On Thursday, as a change from music making, the camp went to Molepolole to see the famous cave and the dam there.

The cave was impressive and most memorable because 5 people were stung by the bees that live in it.

Music Camp 2001 ended with the Music Camp Final Show at which all performed. It was very well organised and the standard of performance was most encouraging and showed that the camp was making strides in this direction.

And now it is on to 2002 Music Camp.
BOTSWANA MUSIC CAMP 2002

VISTA CELLULAR presents

MAITISONG FESTIVAL 2002

12 - 20 April 2002

The Maitisong Festival this year is later than usual: it is in the school holiday so that visiting artists can be accommodated in the school. It will be a more streamlined Festival than in the past with fewer and better shows, especially in the outdoor programme. Negotiations are on with the Gaborone City Council to use the Tsholofelo Park as a major outdoor venue at which we would put a big show on Saturday 13th April. Also depending on the City Council's response, a street carnival is planned for the first Saturday 13th. This is to make a bigger impact on the city and its citizens and to bring some colour to the life here.

VISTA CELLULAR is the main sponsor of the Festival although no longer the sole sponsor. The Grand Palm will be joining again helping with accommodation of artists as they did last year. 

PERFORMERS who would like to take part in the Festival should get the application forms from the Maitisong Festival Office at Maru a Pula School.


VOLUNTEERS needed to help the Festival organisation. It’s hard work but tremendous fun to be part of the Festival. Contact OTTO at 371809 or at the Festival office.

SEEN IN CAPE TOWN. . .over New Year, many Botswana cars and CATS, the Lloyd-Webber musical. What on earth made it the longest running musical? No discernible story, a few memorable tunes, and great spectacle - maybe the last; CINDERELLA, the Cape Town Ballet: naughty but very nice. The Fairy Godmother a Dame Edna Everidge send-up? The ugly sisters in drag? Very amusing and just right for that season. Real ballet there was too, especially in the third act; SOMMER CINDERELLA, charming and very funny show from Nicholas Ellenbogen about a Cape Town amateur dramatic society fighting to save their decrepit rehearsal hall. 

SCRIBBLE, a musical also set in Cape Town about regulars at a local bar. Lovely characters and music with an onstage band. Good story too. 

 


 

Friday 18th January: Alliance Francaise

It is not everyday that we see this style of dancing; very abstract, very modern. Alliance Francaise brought VALERIE BERGER from La Reunion and SELLO PESA from Soweto to Maitisong at the beginning of an African tour. I love dance and really enjoyed the chance to see something different. But I did not like it. 

The dancers danced on the new Maitisong wooden floor and all curtains were removed so that the stage was huge and bare. The lights were wonderfully done creating beautiful colour and shape effects. On the side was a washing line with sheets hanging on it. On the square of the floor, four chairs and tape that were rearranged to make different areas. The music was often sounded like orchestrated street sounds - which would fit in with the theme of ‘everyday’.

Within this everyday sort of setting the two dancers performed. It seemed very personal dancing and quite exclusive of the audience: we were like peeping Toms. The action was obscure so I had to keep working to find a meaning to it or, at least, a reason for the dance to go on. I couldn’t find either. 

It was not audience-friendly. Never once did I feel  them saying to us, ‘come with us’. It was mostly, ‘Keep up if you want to.’ This is often my gripe with modern dancing: it is about and for the dancers, not the audience. So . . . But, many thanks and congratulations to the Aliance Francaise for bringing us this piece so that we were able to keep abreast of what is happening in the wide world of dance .


EVERYDAY 

Friday 18th January: Alliance Francaise

 It is not everyday that we see this style of dancing; very abstract, very modern. Alliance Francaise brought VALERIE BERGER from La Reunion and SELLO PESA from Soweto to Maitisong at the beginning of an African tour. I love dance and really enjoyed the chance to see something different. But I did not like it.

The dancers danced on the new Maitisong wooden floor and all curtains were removed so that the stage was huge and bare. The lights were wonderfully done creating beautiful colour and shape effects. On the side was a washing line with sheets hanging on it. On the square of the floor, four chairs and tape that were rearranged to make different areas. The music was often sounded like orchestrated street sounds - which would fit in with the theme of ‘everyday’.

Within this everyday sort of setting the two dancers performed. It seemed very personal dancing and quite exclusive of the audience: we were like peeping Toms. The action was obscure so I had to keep working to find a meaning to it or, at least, a reason for the dance to go on. I couldn’t find either.

It was not audience-friendly. Never once did I feel  them saying to us, ‘come with us’. It was mostly, ‘Keep up if you want to.’ This is often my gripe with modern dancing: it is about and for the dancers, not the audience. So . . .

But, many thanks and congratulations to the Aliance Francaise for bringing us this piece so that we were able to keep abreast of what is happening in the wide world of dance .  


  Last Updated: February 2002

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