The children I’m referring to are all members of The Enlighten Strings Project, which has been running since October 2015. The project was the brainchild of local resident Mrs Elvia Bury, whose generous donation, in memory of her late husband Alex, made it possible. Initially, twelve children from the Overstrand area here in the Western Cape were chosen to learn to play the violin, in the hope that ultimately they could form the kernel of a youth orchestra. Since then a couple have left and been replaced by others, and a third-grader started learning the cello four weeks ago.
With no former experience, these youngsters, all of whom had shown musical potential, have come a long way in just eight months. On Saturday they performed along with other instrumentalists from the region, and the Marimba band from Kleinmond Laerskool (also trained by Enlighten) in the municipal auditorium. I watched and heard them zealously practising in the weeks leading up to their performance and was amazed at their poise on the day.
In a stroke of genius, they started with their weakest song, Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which allowed them to grow in ability and confidence from there. Glancing across at her beaming parents for encouragement, our young cellist even performed two basic solos to the warm applause of everyone in the auditorium.
I heard many people complain that the show had flown by way too quickly. The grand finale, involving all the young musicians and a few professional performers, was a rousing affair, which had the audience on their feet. It was the first of many standing ovations these young musicians are sure to experience as they play together in the future.
Mrs Bury, with tears in her eyes, exclaimed that it was one of the most fantastic, emotional shows she had experienced in many a year. I had to agree.
Here are some photos from their only practice in the venue, and of the concert on Saturday. (Click to open the slideshow.)