Maru-a-Pula Marimba Band Tour Report
13 April – 3 May, 2012
This year’s marimba band were outstanding ambassadors for Maru-a-Pula and Botswana. They performed with passion and joy, delighting audiences in each of the 17 concerts they played in five Northeastern states. Some memorable highlights:
A Spring Day In NYC: Sunday, April 15th. After a subway ride to Manhatan, we received an inspiring tour of the Juilliard School for the Performing Arts. Project MaP co-founders, Candace Feldman and LeBaronMcClary, joined Ernesto Breton and Julia Headley to show us Juilliard’s world-class facilities. Then a picnic lunch on the lawn of Sheep Meadow in Central Park before visitingthe shops in the Time-Warner building. This was followed by a wallet-draining stop at the Apple Store on 5th Avenue. A delicious dinner with Riverdale students at the home of Riverdale parent, Wendy Davies, finished a glorious day in the city.
Concert # 1.Hebrew Home for the Aged, NYC: Monday, 16thApril. A wonderful start to our tour. We were thrilled to see several folks get up from their wheelchairs and dance to the music. The home’s director said it was the best response to a concert that he had ever seen.
2. Riverdale Country School, NYC: Tuesday, 17th April. NYC Organizer and AFMAP Director, Antoinette Quarshie, arranged for the entire school, from pre-K through 12th grade -- well over a thousand enthusiastic students –to attend a jubilant assembly in the school’s gym. AFMAP Director Andy Jackson was in attendance.Upper School Head Kent Kildahl,has indicated that Riverdale now has the proper visa authority to host a possible MaP Scholar.
3. Horace Mann School, NYC: Tuesday, 17th April. A performance held outdoors on a bright spring day, just under the clock tower outside the cafeteria. Supporters in the audience included Head of School, Tom Kelly, and teachers/senior administrators, Susan Delanty and Barbara Tischler. Kim Do’s art students were on hand to sketch the scene. AFMAP Director Dottie DiCintio and Chris Lacopo, who organise support for MaP’s OVC Scholarships from Horace Mann’s tennis teams, were also in attendance.
4. In-Tech Academy, NYC: Thursday, 19th April. A spectacularly active and spirited reception by middle school students at this public school in the Bronx. Audience members streamed down from their seats to dance in front of the stage. At the end of the concertmany In-Tech students reached into their pockets and pulled out whatever coins and crumpled dollar bills they could find to support our OVC Scholarship fund. An unforgettable scene.Our band’s showman, KhayaGroth, graciously signed autographs for his newest fans.
5. Chen Dance Center, NYC: Thursday, 19th April. Dian Dong welcomed us to this intimate settingin the centre of NYC’s Chinatown. AFMAP Director Beth Nissen wrote: Inspiring, spirit-soaring, energy-amping performance -- this year's touring group is especially personable, and, as usual, astoundingly talented. What a fantastic evening! I'm still faintly thrumming...Former MaP Council member, DivyaRajaraman and husband, Hans Taparia, appeared along with former MaP TA and Harvard programme organizer, Daniel Liss, who made introductions.
6. Riverdale Poetry Café, NYC: Friday, April 20th. A small group of parents and students enjoyed a brief programme, followed by a poetic tribute to the music-making of Alport Mhlanga by AFMAP Director, Antoinette Quarshie.
Porgy & Bess, Broadway: Saturday night, April 21st. In a wonderfully generous gesture, Wendy Davies made it possible for the entire MaP marimba band and several of their Riverdale student hosts to see the classic Broadway musical, Porgy & Bess, which recently received 10 Tony award nominations. After the show, MaP students were expecting to return to Riverdale by subway. But instead, a 14-passenger stretch limo pulled up to the curb outside the theatre and whisked them home in style!
7. Williams College, MA: Sunday, April 22nd. An evening concert hosted by the Music Department at Williams where Alport Mhlanga has six times been an Artist-in-Residence. The sevenMaP students currently at Williams -- Justin Mangope, Neo Mokgwati, ArsemaBerhanu, MmaserameGaefele, KushataFanikiso, LaoneThekiso and ThoboMogojwe-- provided a warm welcome and housed MaP band members. Phil and Susie Smith, who have provided support and sustenance for many MaP students over the years, did the same for visiting MaP staff in their cosy colonial home, full of superb paintings by MaP artist, MelekoMokgosi.
8. Deerfield Academy, MA: Monday, April 23rd. Kabo Kula, the school’s current MaP scholar (accepted at 17 colleges!), welcomed us to Deerfield as did AFMAP Director, Marty Lyman, and Head of School, Margarita Curtis. The band performed again in the Koch Science Center where students and staff, many with young children, jiggling as they watched the performance unfold from multiple levels. Students stayed in dormitories while staff were accommodated in “the Manse”, Margarita Curtis’s elegant home built in 1768.Academic Dean Peter Warsaw would like to partner with relevant MaP staff and students online on a research project focused on water resources.
9. Latchis Theater,Brattleboro, VT: Former MaP teachers Emily Jones (currently Director of the Putney School)& Gordon Jones invited us to join their students for some wonderful all-school singing in the morning. Later we witnessed the daily milking and mucking out of the stalls of Putney’s dairy herd. That evening we performed amidst the Art Deco and Greek Revival interior of the Latchis Theater. A largely Putney student crowd was soon up and dancing. Long-time MaP supporters Betsey and John Harris were in attendance.
10. Hotchkiss School, CT: We were welcomed by Malcolm & Judith McKenzie, David Thompson (Coordinator of International Programs)formerMaP short-term Science teachers,AnjuTaneja and Richard Kirby and current MaP Scholar,Andrew Williams. Dancing students surrounded the marimba band performers on stage when we performed in ElfersHall .A stunning space and an amazing scene! We took the occasion to introduce band-member and MaP Scholar, GaoneMoetse, to her future classmates.
11. Taft School, CT: Thursday, April 26th. Director of Admissions Pete Frew, Chaplain Bob Ganung, Headmaster Willy MacMullen and current MaP Scholar, OutlwileMatome (aka “Miss T”) welcomed us to an all-school assembly in Bingham Auditorium. (But only after a much-cherished coffee break – from a proper Starbucks machine no less -- for officialMaPtour mother, Celine Matthee.)AT dedicated the performance at his alma mater to his parents, Norm & Adele, who were in attendance.
12& 13.Milton Academy, MA: Thursday & Friday, April 26th& 27th. World-class jazz teacher, Bob Sinicrope, welcomed us to the Stephen King Theater for an evening concert. The next morning we hada brief one-song introduction at the Upper School assembly and thenplayed a full concert for the Lower School. We fielded a bunch of great questions from Milton students at the end of the performance. Marimba band members took part in one of Bob’s jazz classes followed by a discussion with a social justice/community service class. A marimba workshop was conducted in the afternoon. Students and staff stayed in dorms and with Milton families or staff for two nights. Bob commented: Your students are fantastic people and wonderful musicians. I love experiencing the joy they exude and the joy their music creates for us the listeners. I can't wait until 2016 when we hope you return.Bobis exploring a possible Milton Academy jazz tour to Southern African in March 2013 with a MaP stop.
14. St. Paul’s School: Saturday, April 28th. Dean of Students, Tom Bazos, welcomed us to Memorial Hall for an evening performance before a small, but spirited crowd. Energized faculty childrenresponded to the music by running laps inside the hall. We stayed at the Fairfield Inn in Concord. We hope to establish a future exchange partnership with St. Paul’s. Sandra Whalen, School Counselor, is slated to visit MaP in May, 2013.
15. Phillips Andover: Sunday, April 29th. Former MaP Science teacher Temba Maqubela, now Andover’s Dean of Faculty gave the band a warm welcome to Andover where he has worked for over 25 years. Chris Walter coordinated our afternoon performance in Kemper Auditorium before an enthusiastic audience. Music Chair Peter Cirelli would like to bring a group of Andover staff (Shirley Veenema, Jose Powell, Erin Strong and Temba) to visit MaP in late June, 2012, to explore a possible partnership. We spoke with Peter Merrill, Coordinator of Andover’s Global Perspectives Group, about launching a possible student and/or staff exchange as well.
16. Roxbury Latin: Monday morning, April 30th. The MaP/RL relationship, launched by EmilySugg in the early 1980s, has now spanned nearly thirty years. We played a morning assembly with a few brave RL boys daring to dance! Headmaster Kerry Brennan welcomed us and Paul Suggcoordinated our stays with RL families for two nights. RL would like to host another MaP Scholar in 2013/14.
17. Sheraton Commander, Cambridge: Monday evening, April 30th. Mitchell Dong introduced the concert and its cause to an audience full of MaP friends. Last year’s Harvard students came out – as did a couple of the new group -- to support the concert. One audience member wrote: Thank you for a marvelous, inspiring evening! The kids and their music FAR exceeded my expectations, I enjoyed every moment and was glad it lasted longer than planned! We finished our final concert by making presentations to Stan Sitnick, Paul Sugg and Mitchell Dong for their generous support of our tour.
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It remains for me to thankthe MaPstudents, colleagues and friends of MaPwho made this 2012 Marimba Tour such a pleasure. In particular, my gratitude goes to:
MaatlaMotsosiemang, AndrijaKlaric, LoratoNwako, OratileRamotlhwa, Goitseone Thebe, Felicity Mampe, KefilweMasiele, TlameloMojaphoko, Weitong Gou, KhayaGrothand GaoneMoetse, for playing with such heart and skill. You radiated joy and thrilled your audiences. Your hosts loved you as well!
Celine Matthee, for providing frequent hugs, nurture and support for band members along with handling communications and CD & “T” shirt sales.
TlotlegoGaogakwe, for driving the mini-van under challenging circumstances (and on the right side of the road!) and being the band’s favourite“Go-To Guy”.
Alport Mhlanga, for his luminousgifts as composer, band leader and performer and for his superb marimba-packing skills and extraordinary inter-song banter.
Stan Sitnik, for personally delivering us his marvelous marimbas on the day we arrived in NYC and then taking them back after our last performance in Boston.
Mitchell Dong, for supporting us with two magnificent venues – the Chen Dance Center in NYC and the Sheraton Commander in Cambridge –and for publicizing the concerts.
Antoinette Quarshie, for printing “T” shirts and coordinating all aspects of our time in NYC with care, generosity and constant kindnesses at a time when her extra school duties were particularly onerous.
Richard Kassissieh, for his meticulous logisticswork including concert scheduling, arranging accommodations, producing and mailing tour CDs, arranging vehicle rentals and helping with publicity. A huge contribution of time and energy over many months. It never would have happened without you.
Suggestions for next time:
1. We barely fit all our marimbas and luggage into the Bandago and the minivan. The packing had to be precise and took about an hour to accomplish each time we moved. We had no choice but in future let’s return to the two Bandagoes we used in 2010. Yes, two American drivers would be needed. A GPS unit would help as well!
2. We should alert schools in advance to provide us with student lists (where this is allowed) so that the $20 charges for CDs and “T” shirts can be made to their student accounts. Students typically do not carry enough cash to make such purchases and we need to strike while the impulse is there.
3. I was able to withdraw cash as needed from my personal check account. But we need to keep in mind that American gas stations don’t accept overseas credit cards. (They typically ask for an American zip code on the credit card’s billing address.) We also tapped our growing cash float for band members’ meal money as needed.
4. We need to have someone in the States to focus on marketing public performances to ensure fuller audiences.
5. Coordination with the music departments of schools to be visited would make it possible to schedule marimba workshops such as the one we did at Milton.
-- Andrew Taylor
MaP Marimba Band in full swing at Taft School Assembly, April 26th2012