Saturday, December 26, 2009

On the Celebration! Congo Choir: Their 2005 visit to Louis Gregory Baha'i Institute

This is a set of pictures of the Congo Choir taken of video footage recorded by Taraz Dannells when he was volunteering at the Louis Gregory Baha'i Institute in 2005. Louis Gregory was the home-base for the troupe for a week. Most of the footage is from their practicing at the Institute. I hope to convert the video to digital so it can be shared in its entirety on the Internet. This conveys just a taste of the spirit these Baha'is from the Congo brought to the Institute and surrounding area during their visit. They performed in schools local to Hemingway SC and also performed at the Kenedy Center. The program announcement of the latter performance is reposted below.
The Congo Baha'i Youth Choir sang at a devotional program at the base of the Terraces on Mount Carmel. It later evolved into the Celebration! Congo Choir which performed at The Kennedy Center in 2005.
The Congo Choir is a troupe of 18 young adult singers, dancers and musicians from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in Central Africa.

Celebration! Congo Choir is a compilation of songs and stories of peace and understanding using the troupe’s experiences as cultural backdrop. “Bomoko: An African Story of Unity in Rhythm and Song,” features a traditional choir format with vocals, percussion instruments, and colorful attire.

“Bomoko” (pronounced boh-MOH-koh) - from the Lingala language spoken in regions of the Congo - denotes the idea that “all are one.” Choir songs and music derive from the choir goal “to use performing arts to promote unity between tribes, races and communities.” The troupe performs under the tutelage of Congolese Choir Master Oscar Diyabanza Matusongwa, an expert on the fusion of traditional African rhythms, harmonies and instruments with contemporary Western influences in appealing modern arrangements. While serving as Artistic Director of the National Ballet in the nation formerly known as Zaire (now, DRC), he created three original ballets that toured Europe and Asia.

Celebration! Congo Choir is a project of the New Generation Media Initiative for Africa (NGMIA), based in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo. Co-founded by Celebration! Congo Choir co-organizers Jason and Susan Sheper, NGMIA develops multi-media projects that are focused on encouraging and developing the capacity of youth and young adults in Central Africa. Chief among these is “Mon Village” (My Village), a pilot project integrating media production and broadcast programming, as well as educational materials and performances to serve children and their families.

Celebration! Congo Choir is an evolution of a youth choir that overcame imposing obstacles to participate in a Baha’i international music conference in Haifa, Israel, May 2001. Sponsors and in-kind support for the tour come from the U.S. and Canadian Baha’i community, non-profit arts organizations, and individual contributors. "

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