Milton Gets Ready to Jazz Things Up in Johannesburg
by Amanda Beaudoin on Friday, March 8th, 2013
In the wee hours of Thursday March 14th, the ninth bi-annual Milton Academy Jazz tour of South Africa will depart. These tours began with Abdullah Ibrahim, a South African jazz musician and composer who first came to Milton in September 1991 to play a fund-raising concert for a black South African student. According to jazz program director and founder Mr. Sinicrope, after hearing the Milton Jazz students perform his songs, Ibrahim “ran onto the stage…and invited us to tour South Africa.” The following February, the Milton jazz group embarked on the first of many amazing trips to South Africa.
Accompanied by four parents and two teachers, 26 students will travel to Johannesburg to perform. Not only will they make music, but they will also bring with them over $100,000 worth of donated instruments and other materials for a variety of South African schools.
This year, the jazz group will spend the first two days of the tour at the Pilanesberg Game Reserve after landing in Johannesburg. For the next 13 days, the group will travel throughout the country, visiting such historically important sites as the Apartheid Museum, Robben Island, and a housing project in Cape Town. The group will also perform 10 concerts throughout the country. Although the musicians will be busy traveling and performing throughout South Africa, Charlie Blasberg (II), a pianist and a saxophone player in the jazz program, said, “I’m looking forward to the amount of performances on the tour!”
A favorite performance venue is the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, where the audience, the outdoor setting, and the enthusiasm of the musicians all come together to create a fun and energetic concert. One of the most moving performances of the tour is at the Human Rights Day jazz festival held by the Amy Biehl Foundation, an organization honoring Amy Biehl, an American anti-Apartheid activist who was killed fighting for social justice in South Africa. This festival occurs only when Milton visits South Africa, making the concert particularly meaningful.
The Milton students will also play with South African students in different schools and townships. The relationships between the Milton and South African students are one of the most memorable parts of the trip for all. Mr. Sinicrope said, “I love the social and musical interactions we have with township schools and their students. It’s heartwarming to experience music bridge the gap between students of different social, cultural and economic backgrounds.”
In addition to forming relationships with South African students, the Jazz musicians will also improve their relationships with one another. As clarinetist Dan Rubenstein (I) said, “I really think the trip will be a great bonding experience for the group, both as people and as musicians.” By the end of the two-week trip, the musicians will have made new friendships across both grades and cultures.
Anticipating this year’s trip, Mr. Sinicrope said, “I hope that we will have a wonderful musical journey, a profound social and cultural experience and much bonding and fun.” With the trip’s culturally and musically rich itinerary, Mr. Sinicrope’s aspirations for the trip are sure to come to fruition.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=4622