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The Milton Measure

Jazz Tours South Africa for 12th Time

by on Thursday, March 9th, 2017

On Tuesday, March 7th, the Milton Academy Jazz Program left from Logan International Airport for South Africa. After a twelve-hour flight from Boston, they landed in Dubai for a four-hour layover before continuing with an eight-hour flight to Johannesburg. Three days earlier, on Sunday, March 5th, the jazz students held their send-off concert in the studio theatre of Kellner Performing Arts Center. They played many of their tour songs such as “Free Nelson Mandela,” “Walt’s Barber Shop,” “Livery Stable Blues,” and “Soweto Is Where It’s At.”

During the two-and-a-half-week tour, Milton Jazz Students will play in concerts at thirteen locations, including the African Leadership Academy, the Durban Township School, and the Kaleidoscope Jazz Club. While the South Africa tour consists of numerous performances, there are also many opportunities for sightseeing. Milton Jazz Students will be taking trips to a game reserve, Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years, and the housing projects of Cape Town.

The Milton Academy Jazz Program has been touring South Africa since 1992. This trip will be Milton’s twelfth. When asked about the events that led to the South Africa tour’s inception, Bob Sinicrope, founder and director of the Milton Jazz Program, said, “South African pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim heard [Milton] students playing his music the second week of school in September, 1991, and ran to the stage and invited us to tour South Africa.” And just like that, the South Africa tour became one of the most moving and transformative experiences Milton Academy can offer. The South Africa tour is made possible with the help of payments from parents, donations, fundraising concerts, and the Mandela Fund.

This year, 21 Milton students are attending the trip, along with thirteen parents and faculty members. Alex Chen (II) is one of the students this year that is returning to South Africa for a second time. When asked about his first trip to South Africa, he reflected, saying, “When I first went two years ago in 2015, I was a freshman, and it was my first year at Milton. At the time, as one of the youngest members of the tour, the whole experience was quite overwhelming. From playing with older students at Milton and students from South Africa, meeting and connecting with all these new people made the trip unforgettable.”

In contrast with Alex’s experience, Kat Stephan (III) is is attending the trip for the first time. She said, “I’ve always loved jazz, but I’ve never really gotten a good opportunity to play. When I heard about Milton’s jazz program, I realized what an amazing opportunity it would be to be a part of it. I’d get to spend three weeks in a cool place, playing music I like with great people; what’s better than that?!”

When asked about what makes the South African experience important, Mr. Sinicrope said, “South Africa has a profound story in its recent history with its journey from Apartheid to a Democratic government where all its citizens can vote… The love of music, particularly South African music, allows our Milton Academy tour participants to connect and bond with South Africans in a powerful and unique way.” In addition, he expressed his hope for the trip, saying, “I hope all students and adults will appreciate how fortunate we are in terms of our comfort and opportunities and develop an awareness for others less fortunate in their physical environs but who are nonetheless as happy or even more so than us.”

When the band returns from their trip, they hope to share a short update on how it went and what people thought of this incredible opportunity to play music and meet people from a land far away from our own.

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Posted by on Mar 9 2017. Filed under More News, News, Recent News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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