NELSON MANDELA’S IMPACT ON CHORAL MUSIC

NELSON MANDELA’S IMPACT ON CHORAL MUSIC:

The sense of progress for all humanity was palpable, and the power of song to express this was not lost on the choral community.  Leonard Bernstein, another role model of mine in arts activism, led an East-West rendition of Beethoven’s ODE TO JOY in Berlin when the wall came down, changing the word “Freude” to “Freiheit,” turning the song into an ODE TO FREEDOM.  Conductors were looking for material for their choirs to perform to join this celebration.  Many brought out songs from the Civil Rights movement in the U.S.  Joseph Shabalala of Ladysmith Black Mambazo published an arrangement of the African National Anthem, N’kosi Sikelel’i Afrika, with assistance from Nick Page for World Music Press.  Then out of Sweden came Anders Nyberg’s faithful arrangements in FREEDOM IS COMING: Songs of Protest and Praise from South Africa, published by Walton.

I remember learning “Freedom is coming” and “Siyahamba” in the early 90s and they were enormously popular.  This really sparked interested in African music from all parts of the continent.

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