When faith makes music

Music creates bonds across continents. This is something that young people from Germany and South Africa recently experienced. For the guests it was a trip into a completely different world, one that will resound for a long time to come.

David Reischmann is thrilled: “We experienced incredible things.” In October, he was in South Africa with 110 young musicians. It was the largest concert tour of the Youth Symphony Orchestra (YSO) North Rhine-Westphalia so far.

Nature was the first thing that impressed him, already as the plane was approaching for landing. “These mountains directly on the ocean with no ships in sight, the cloud-covered peaks, and the wide planes between the sea and the mountains …”

His second impression was a complete contrast. On their bus ride into the city centre he saw the “world as created by man”: “The houses of the poor, the slums … because many of the homes cannot even be called ‘houses’.”

And then a completely different impression in the city centre: “On every corner of the pedestrian zone there was a group of singers or dancers, laughing and making music, warming your heart.”

Full programme – during rehearsals and on the road

The young Germans spent a whole week at the southern tip of Africa. Their agenda was chock full: first, with rehearsals for the scheduled concerts, and secondly with discovering their host country. Outings to Table Mountain, to the Cape of Good Hope, to a safari park, and Robben Island, a former prison where the Nobel laureate Nelson Mandela was also imprisoned.

David was fascinated by the extremes in the country: “One evening we went to the Moyo, a restaurant in a rich suburb. A Marimba band was playing live music. And there was a lot of singing, dancing, and laughter. But the area itself was a bit eerie. All the homes had high walls around them and razor-sharp fences on top.”

One faith, many languages, and a lot of music

English and German, Xhosa and Afrikaans: the Wednesday evening service was powerful and multilingual. The young people went to church in the Langa congregation, which is located in one of the oldest townships in Cape Town. The congregation had invited their guests for a snack afterwards, after which they ended up making music together.

The members of the YSO attended the Sunday morning service in Tafelsig. With a seating capacity of about 4,000, it is one of the largest New Apostolic churches worldwide. The young Germans had prepared with a rehearsal so that could sing along in the congregational choir. “Here too, the congregation sang and prayed in different languages.”

Not just a musical commitment

The orchestra went on stage on Friday evening for a benefit concert at Christel House. This non-profit organisation transforms the lives of impoverished children and helps them get an education, among other things. The guests’ contribution did not only consist of musical notes, however, but also of banknotes. The YSO presented a cheque to the charity for over 5,000 euros.

On Sunday afternoon, the big concert in the Silvertown Auditorium took place, the church with the retractable altar. “That was the absolute highlight.” Together with one-hundred -member Young People’s Choir of the New Apostolic Church Southern Africa, the orchestra delighted the audience with a programme that ranged from classical to pop music. “It was just great,” District Apostle John L. Kriel said afterwards.

“The happy encounters and the fellowship with our brothers and sisters was overwhelming,” said Stefan Vis, the orchestra’s conductor. And David added, “It was a tour full of impressions we will never forget.”

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