On Friday evening, the U.S Embassy hosted a free jazz concert at the Thapong Visual Arts Centre.
The event was a culmination of a music outreach event that had partnered U. S musicians from the United States Air Forces in Europe (USAFE) ensemble with aspiring local jazz artists aged between 14 and 24 years from the Botswana Society for Jazz Education (BOSJE).
Prior to the concert, the Five Star Brass Ensemble hosted a masterclass workshop for the future artists. Although the local upcoming artists only had one day to learn from the masters during the concert, they displayed some amazing skills, and proved that soon they will be headlining their very own concerts.
Speaking during an interview with the Chairperson and one of the founders of the recently registered (BOSJE), Akhutleleng Mogami explained that the participants are members of the society through the Kingdom Arts Academy where they are taught how to play various musical instruments. She also said that during the one-day event, the students were taken on a journey of playing musical instruments as well as techniques and other facets.
“It was quite a good day for us, and it meant a lot to be able to absorb all that knowledge,” she explains. She also says that the session has made a huge difference in the lives of their members and that from the comments that they received, they were certain that they were on the right track.
“The session has really made an impact,” she says. She also points out that they were currently in talks with the Embassy to organise similar events that will hopefully take place over a couple of days. She also reveals that they have recently formed a new project going by the name, the Big Band, which she says will get to benefit from opportunities such as these.
“Something that is happening right now is that some of us play music by the ear, and don’t know how to read music. This is something that we are currently working on teaching our young students,” she explains. Music Director of the Ensemble, Justin Stamps explains that they are based at the Ramstin Air Base in Germany, and that the ensemble comprises 50 members.
The group shares their music knowledge with close to 104 nations. He explains that the band plays variety of jazz such as classical and popular jazz. “We always try to be as flexible as possible in our shows,” he says. He highlights that they were extremely impressed with the level of talent and knowledge displayed by the local learners. “They are incredibly talented, and they listened to what we had to say,” he says adding that they had observed that they had a future in music.
One of the lucky students was Samuel Menoro who could not hide his excitement. He says that during the one-day event, he learnt a lot and that they learnt musical elements such as staff notations. “I am very happy that I was part of this life changing opportunity,” he says.