More than 40 music and theater students and faculty members from the Alabama School of Fine Arts recently performed in two sold-out performances in Namibia with one of that country’s biggest pop stars.
The two-night concert was with the pop star Gazza and the Namibian National Symphony Orchestra in a concert called “Gazza Goes Symphonic: A Concert of Hope.” The concert’s musical director was ASFA Music Department Chair Alex Fokkens and featured ASFA Director of Student Support Services Kim Scott, a jazz flutist, as guest soloist.
ASFA high-school students in the concert’s choir sang in Oshiwambo, a language spoken in Namibia.
In addition to the concert, theater students performed in a showcase alongside professional Namibian actors and students. “Say What: An Evening of Monologues and Musical Theatre Performances” was led by Senga Brockerhoff, the former head of the National Theatre of Namibia.
“This collaboration was not only important in supporting us in creating public theater events in a suffering and dormant industry but also for cross-cultural connection and sharing. The Namibian theater industry is inspired by the huge talent of these young (ASFA) students,” says Brockerhoff.
The Namibian collaboration was spurred both by Fokkens, a South African-born conductor who has worked across southern Africa and the world, and ASFA Theatre Arts Chair John Manzelli, who did a sabbatical in Namibia while he was a university professor.
Manzzelli summed up the impact of the trip: “We got the chance to teach students that art is something bigger than ourselves. Students left Namibia with a better understanding of why we do what we do. And they connected to other artists in the world who think and create like them.”
Information taken from an ASFA press release.