After three weeks of singing, dancing, praying, and sight-seeing, the University A Cappella is back in the United States from an international tour of South Africa May 7–27, 2017.
“This place has been on our hearts and minds for more than two years,” said Dr. Kurt von Kampen, conductor. “We didn’t know what God had in store for us but we were prepared to serve Him through our singing and interactions with the people of South Africa. It was hard to leave a country we've come to love. The people were kind, humble and gracious.”
The internationally acclaimed choir performed concerts at churches and schools in eight cities on their 20-day tour. Concert sites include Atlanta, Georgia, Johannesburg, Middelburg, Kruger, Swaziland, St. Lucia, Durban, Lesotho and Pretoria.
During their travels, they were able to experience safaris and tour the city of Durban, as well as visit the Nelson Mandela museum. They also performed with a Swazi Tribal Choir and visited Krueger National Park.
“Seeing the students’ world view expand right before my eyes was the most fulfilling part of the tour,” said von Kampen. “Their ability to share music back-and-forth with the South Africans and the care they took was most satisfying.”
Because of the unique style of the South Africans, the choir seldom performed complete concerts as they are accustomed to in the United States. They would begin a concert and after a few songs, someone would shout out a call and there would be a response from the audience with a refrain. Then a soloist would begin another section – all in their native Zulu. The natives would then begin dancing in the aisles while pulling the students in and teaching them the verses and dances.
The students adapted quickly, picking up on the verses and bits of the language while also sharing their own blessings and benedictions.
“Like most trips, it's easy to wonder how the time flew by so quickly,” von Kampen said. “One thing that will always stick with us is the incredibly warm reception we have enjoyed at each stop along the way. I suspect there will always be a part of each of us that will remain in Africa.”