SOWETO STRINGS tells the extraordinary and moving story of an outstanding music project in Soweto. Established in 1997 by British viola player Rosemary Nalden, the Buskaid project, which gives local township children the opportunity to learn classical stringed instruments virtually free of charge, has transformed the lives of many youngsters and produced musicians of international quality. Under Rosemary Nalden’s direction, the Buskaid Ensemble has played in many of the world’s most prestigious concert halls, and its performance at the 2007 BBC Proms in London won it unanimous critical acclaim. In 2009 Gramophone magazine identified the Ensemble as one of the world’s ten most inspiring orchestras.
Award-winning filmmaker Mark Kidel followed the project’s work for over two years, focusing on a number of musicians at different stages of the journey towards the mastery of their instruments. He also highlights Rosemary Nalden’s phenomenal success at inspiring young musicians who have grown up in exceptionally difficult circumstances.
The documentary culminates in extracts from a breathtaking concert by the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble at Paris’s Cité de la Musique, where the French audience responded with a well-deserved standing ovation.
THE BUSKAID SOWETO STRING ENSEMBLE IN PERFORMANCE is a film of the 2007 Paris concert. The thrilling programme includes works by Mozart, Grieg, Rameau and Bartók as well as some popular encores, with vocals by the project’s young singers, and the Buskaid musicians’ own string arrangements of traditional South African township kwela.
In the sequence of Rameau dances, the orchestra is joined by a group of spirited African-inspired dancers from Cape Town’s community project Dance for All.