High school learners show that jazz is alive and kicking

Bergvliet High School learners opened the concert with a bang with their smooth jazz set. Photo: Keegan Frances

Students from the Bergvliet High School in Cape Town and Saint Mary’s High School in Johannesburg wowed audience members at the DSG Auditorium with their smooth performance of well-known jazz classics at the Youth 1 performance. The event, which was a part of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, gave those in attendance a taste of the jazz talent which is being cultivated in schools around South Africa.

The concert kicked off with an energetic performance by Bergvliet’s learners with renditions of Yard Bird Suite, originally performed by Charlie Parker, and The Chicken, originally performed by Alfred James Ellis. While these songs were masterfully performed, it was the learner’s performance of Grazing in the Grass, by Hugh Masekela which got the audience really excited.

The second half of the concert was comprised of a smooth jazz set performed by Saint Mary’s learners which included renditions of Sunday Strut by Mike Campbell, Sister Fania by Hotep Galeta and a Calypso Minor-Tsakwe medley which was met with raucous applause from the audience.

Sean Peterson, the bass player for Bergvliet, spoke about his relationship to music after the show and the role which it would play in his future: “I don’t really see music as a future career. Music is more of a hobby of mine, a passion, which I hope to make some money from”.  Reflecting on his time at this year’s National Arts Festival, Peterson said: “I’m enjoying it. I’m learning a lot from the workshops which I have participated in. I really enjoyed auditioning for the National band. It was a challenge.”

Danni McKinnon, a woodwind music teacher at Saint Mary’s, who played baritone, was very pleased with how things went. “I thought the performance was excellent. The learners really immersed themselves in the spirit of Jazz which is present at this year’s festival.”

The Standard Bank Jazz Festival will be running daily until 8 July. Members of the public can keep in touch by visiting www.standardbank.com/naf or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/standardbankarts.

By Keegan Frances