It’s a ‘dream come true’ as Delft kids get Melbourne invite
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.”
YOUNG TALENT: Many of the members of the Delft Music Academy come from poor households and have been playing music for just six months.