2017 Prep Marimba Festival a success
On 20 September 2017 Mears Hall at St Stithians College was filled with the sounds of marimbas and happy children performing at 12th Preparatory Marimba Festival, hosted and organised by St Stithians College. Over 200 young marimba players came together to celebrate marimba music in the best possible way: by playing their instruments for a captivated audience.
Eight preparatory schools from Gauteng, and one Preparatory school from Swaziland performed a total of over 30 songs to high praise. After Mr Michael Sibanda, head of Marimbas at St Stithians College, welcomed attendees and the musicians to the event, all the participating young musicians opened the musical part of the evening with a combined performance of Stand by Me by Ben E King. The hall filled with the sounds of over 200 young musicians playing the classic song. Thereafter, each school had the opportunity to play a set of three to four songs for the audience. The evening ended with another combined marimba performance, this time the group played Track 12 by Heavy K ft Bucie.
Thembelisha Preparatory School, from Swaziland, gave a high-energy performance including two young dancers. The band performed all four of their songs immediately after each other, performing changeovers so clean the only thing that alerted you to the fact that the song had changed was the music itself.
The audience was so impressed by the all the music performed that evening that there was thunderous applause, ululation, and standing ovations throughout the evening. The audience even stood up to dance during the encore of Track 12.
The evening was organised by Mr Michaal Sibanda, and he was also the conductor for the performances by St Stithians Girls' Preparatory and St Stithians Boys' Preparatory. He also conducted the combined items.
"I always look forward to hosting this festival," says Sibanda. Sibanda can be seen in the photographs playing the drums with the marimba players: he is an incredibly talented marimba player and Djembe drummer.
Mr Alistair Stewart, head of Advancement at St Stithians College, gave the vote of thanks highlighting that Mr Michael Sibanda should be nicknamed "Magic" because of how successfully he directed the various marimba bands and the combined items.
"Who can deny how amazing it is to have over 200 children making music together. Right now, at the end, the festival is over but everyone is smiling," he said at the end of the evening.
Mr Sibanda adds: "12 years ago I decided to organise the first marimba festival for preparatory school marimba bands as a way of providing the much-needed performing opportunities for the various school bands. This festival provides Marimba bands an opportunity to come together and share repertoire through performing for each other and learning different performing skills. Over the years I have observed the bands that have attended the festivals improving their playing technique and skills, improving their selection of repertoire, and improving the arrangement and presentation of the music. The standard of performance by all the participating schools was very high this year.
'The highlight of the festival is always the performance of the combined mass items. This year we had 200 students playing together on the marimbas. This is a true joy to watch and listen to. Every child on stage feels equal and confident as they perform in harmony and contribute to the success of the pieces.
'The festival concert opens with all the participants on stage performing the first combined item. This is followed by the different schools performing their prepared program. The festival then ends with all the participants on stage again to close with the final combined item.
'This is where I appreciate the importance and benefits of the festival: every child on stage is filled with confidence and excitement as they perform to the delight of the audience who in turn give them a resounding round of applause and standing ovations.
'All the children from all the schools leave the festival as winners!"
The participating schools, in the order they played their individual songs, are:
- St Stithians Girls' Preparatory under the direction of Michael Sibanda
- Brescia House Primary School under the direction of Simon Louw
- St John's Preparatory under the direction of Shannon Frigyik
- Holy Rosary Primary School under the direction of Bonny Phillips
- Auckland Park Preparatory under the direction of Innocent Mutero
- Redhill Preparatory School under the direction of Locx Mmileng
- Thembelisha Preparatory School, Swaziland Melody Mathibire
- The Ridge School under the direction of Sammy Charinge
- St Stithians Boys' Preparatory under the direction of Michael Sibanda
Click through this gallery to see the photos of all the participating marimba bands performing.