Monday, July 4, 2022

The narration of a Captivating 5th Musica Sacra – a roma preview

Like the Biblical Bethlehem of Juda, Kopong, a village in Kweneng East, is not by any means a small one. In place of an endemic story that was once covered in media where a ghost called Sylvia was allegedly tormenting motorists at night in the village, the globe shall come to embrace it as a talent moulding centre. The Gaborone Diocese Catholic leadership can testify to this.

Sacred Heart Church choir from this village is a force to reckon with. The past Saturday evening classic music lovers were treated to a captivating show by this choir. The venue was the Cathedral Multipurpose Hall, where it was previewing its performance, a month before its departure for Rome, Italy.

Despite its size and place of origin, the choir is not only the first in the Gaborone Diocese, but in Southern Africa to participate in the Musica Sacra a Roma. The event is one of the biggest and most sacred in the Catholic calendar. This year’s is the fifth.

The 35-member choir introduced its potential through a piece, ‘Whispering Hope’ , by Septimus Winner, led by a teenager, Lebogang Boranabi. The young star’s melodious voice so lucratively covered the other voices that one would conclude that a sound mixer was used to elevate it. Then music flew. Moods changed. Silence reigned supreme. Cordially!

The event was further boosted by the participation of a renowned international pianist, Wits University Music lecturer, composer and adjudicator, Mokale Koapeng. His fingers did miracles on piano keys as the likes of Katlego Mokoti, the choir’s Mezzo Soprano, Laone Letsholo-Tenor, and Clever Bafisi- Baritone, took turns to send chilling waves down their audience spines with their soloist skills.

Just after the small Parish’s Chairperson welcomed guests, the youngsters proved their worth. Mokoti performed ‘Setu m’ ami,’ a piece by Giovanni Pergolesi. She was followed by Letsholo with ‘Comfort ye’ by G.F. Handel.

Then Bafisi entertained guests with W.A. Mozart’s Sevuol ballare, before Mokoti re-appeared with ‘Oh thou that tellest’ by G.F. Handel. They prepared for their Conductor’s presentation with ‘Contessa Perdono’. Here Onalenna Mogampane led with Soprano while Kelebogile Rannyere, Laone Letsholo and Clever Bafisi sung alto, tenor and bass in that order. Enchantingly!

Michelle Polokelo thus came forth and, through smiles, informed her audience how they organized the day for the sole purpose of show casing what they are going to present in Rome. She took time to inform her attentive listeners how the preview occasion came into being.

Two years ago, the choir members had a collective dream. It was that they should visit Rome and see the Holy See. An answer to the dream came in the form of an email that invited them to partake in the forthcoming Sacra a Roma. They doubted it, suspecting it might be a scam. The email was, however, confirmed by mail, being a hard copy of the contents of the email. It was authentic.
It obviously posed a serious challenge to the predominantly school going, unemployed youth choir. This meant brain storming strategies for raising funds.

The Committee wholeheartedly embraced it. It was presented to the whole choir that equally embraced it. It was a dream come true. Its challenges had to be tackled head-on. The dream went through the necessary stages until it reached the Bishop’s office. Reasons for travelling proved valued. It was more than an ordinary journey. It has many benefits – both at Parish and Diocese level – not to mention Southern African region.

“We are to have the opportunity to participate in one of the most important events. This is going to give us exposure to liturgical growth. In one of the days we are going to attend Mass conducted by His Holiness, the Pope. This is a blessing. There will be music scouts there since this is a very big event. This will give some of us the opportunity to get music training there in Europe. We hope to come back from there with rich history and well informed in Catholicism,” said Polokelo.

She further explained the problems her choir members were battling with. They did not have sufficient funds for travelling. They were no just relaxed though, but were busy scouting for funds. They will on the 25th May host a dinner at the same Cathedral hall venue. It will be another fund raising activity.

They are thankful for the massive support they get from the Lekaukau family of the Church elders.
“Each of us is expected to pay P2500 for accommodation. Visas price stands at P573 and we have to pop out a total of P56 000 as flight fare,” she said.

They are going to stay for a week in Rome. They are expected to depart on the 30th June, returning on the 8th July. Among the songs they are going to present are: Panis Angelicus by Caesar Franck, Their sound is gone out and The trumpet shall sound both by G. F. Handel.

Especially thankful for the Bishop, Right Reverend Valentine Tsamma Seane’s endorsement of their journey and the fact that he came to give a key note address in that preview ceremony, the choir raised him from his seat with his favourite piece, ‘Halleluya Chorus’ by G.F. Handel. If songs that preceded it were bombshells, then this one was a tornado. Period!

All smiles, the Bishop expressed gratitude over the fact that the choir comprises mostly of young people. This assured bright future for the Parish, Diocese and the country. Instead of partying and partaking in wayward activities these few opted for glorifying God by ‘praying twice as singing unto the lord equalled praying twice’.

“The songs these youngsters have been singing are not easy. Hearing them sing them so perfectly symbolises the commitment they put on practising them. They are effectively utilising their talents. They need support. The Bishop’s office will give them P100, 000 for travelling. I calculated their number and reached the conclusion that though not much the amount can cover some of their costs,” said Bishop Seane to deafening round of applause.

He encouraged them to carry the Botswana flag when they travelled there. The power in their voices, he said, indicated that with microphones they are going to crack listeners’ ear drums. They should also carry with them some traditional attire. While there they should also display traditional dance to show Europeans their origins. They could cash some Euros through this. He would liaise with those he knew there to ensure they would get audience for that.

He echoed Polokelo’s sentiments that there will be musical talent scouts there. Maybe some of them would soon find themselves learning music in Europe.

Fluent in Italian language since he stayed there for a long time, the Bishop promised to go and teach them the language’s basics before they left. Italians, he said, speak only their language and the choir would have a tough time going there blank. Ululations followed. Applause!

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