It’s a ‘dream come true’ as Delft kids get Mel­bourne in­vite

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - ZARA NI­CHOL­SON

FIF­TEEN chil­dren from the Delft Mu­sic Academy have been in­vited to per­form at the Out of Africa fes­ti­val in Mel­bourne, Aus­tralia, in March.

The “dream come true” jour­ney, the first over­seas trip for the kids, is re­mark­able since they started study­ing mu­sic just six months ago.

The Delft Mu­sic Academy was started in July last year by Natasha Torkley, fol­low­ing her es­tab­lish­ment of the non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, Ubuntu Cul­tural De­vel­op­ment, to help young artists.

“There are so many young, tal­ented peo­ple in Cape Town, and my late hus­band Clive and I were al­ways help­ing them. Af­ter he passed away I de­cided to start some thing to help kids who needed to do some­thing pos­i­tive with their lives. I wanted to do some­thing for kids in com­mu­ni­ties who had noth­ing else.”

Torkley started a pi­lot project in Delft, and ap­proached lo­cal mu­si­cian Don­veno Prins to teach a group of chil­dren var­i­ous in­stru­ments.

Prins, a sax­o­phon­ist, has worked with David Kramer on var­i­ous pro­duc­tions, in­clud­ing the Kramer Petersen Song­book about the 20-year creative re­la­tion­ship be­tween Kramer and the late Taliep Petersen.

The mu­sic school sprang from a win­ter school held last July at St Matthews Church in Delft. More than 100 chil­dren signed up for the mu­sic school where they were taught the­ory and how to play an in­stru­ment, from drums and other per­cus­sion in­stru­ments to the gui­tar, bass gui­tar, trom­bone, trum­pet and vi­o­lin.

The learn­ers range in age from teenagers to as young as six. There are also adult stu­dents.

Prins said giv­ing back to poorer com­mu­ni­ties was some­thing he had al­ways wanted to do as a mu­si­cian.

“When we started the school we no­ticed things like dis­ci­pline and life skills is­sues. But when it came to the mu­sic they took to it eas­ily and within a week some of them could play a song. To see what play­ing mu­sic means to th­ese kids is amaz­ing. They have prob­lems at home but this is an es­cape for them. And for peo­ple to show an in­ter­est in what they want to do means a lot.”

The chil­dren have al­ready per­formed at a num­ber of lo­cal fes­ti­vals. One of those they im­pressed was Mayor Dan Plato. An­other was Imelda Martin, chair­woman of the or­gan­i­sa­tion Self Help. Martin has con­tacts with two South African ex­pats, Char­maine and Gra­ham Oosthuizen, who started the Out of Africa fes­ti­val in New Zealand in 2004.

At Martin’s sug­ges­tion the Oosthuizens in­vited 15 youngsters to per­form at the fes­ti­val in March, along­side other African groups and bands from Aus­tralia.

Jamie Bird, 17, from Delft, who plays bass gui­tar, is one of the 15 go­ing to Aus­tralia. “I’m very happy and can’t be­lieve that I am go­ing over­seas. The band re­ally helps us a lot in get­ting kids off the streets, be­cause there’s noth­ing else here to keep us busy. I just de­cided to check it out one day and I re­ally en­joyed it. I was never in­ter­ested in mu­sic but now I am.”

Part of the fund­ing for the trip is com­ing from the fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers, but Martin said they were strug­gling to raise R400 000 for air­fares and the band’s uni­form. “We are looking for peo­ple to help them be­cause they are worth it and they de­serve the chance to go.”

PIC­TURE: SAM CLARK

YOUNG TAL­ENT: Many of the mem­bers of the Delft Mu­sic Academy come from poor house­holds and have been play­ing mu­sic for just six months.

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