22 Dec:Yesterday we returned from Swakopmund and a truly rich, rewarding experience with wonderful people at the annual Swakopmunder Musikwoche (Music Week) for which my favorite alto and her favorite bass had the honor of singing with the Musikwoche Choir. It all began in March when we were asked to meet with representatives of Bank Windhoek’s Social Investment department regarding the financial condition of a local crafts workshop, Karas Huisen Crafts Trust. We helped draft a grant application which resulted in an award to the trust and an invitation to a Bank Windhoek beneficiaries’ conference. (See for more info http://www.bankwindhoek.com.na/News/Pages/BANK-WINDHOEK-SPONSORS-SWAKOPMUNDER-MUSIKWOCHE-50TH-JUBILEE.aspx )
That is where we met the driving force behind another Bank Windhoek beneficiary, Swakopmunder Musikwoche’s, Christiane Berker.
Not only did Chris invite us to participate in the choral part of the program. She also waived for our registration fees, found us free accommodation and connected us with transportation for most of the round-trip from Keetmanshoop! All this she did for us while organizing a tremendous musical event hosting over 300 performers and lecturers plus volunteer staff.
Barbara and I rehearsed with the choir for eight days under the direction of American composer-conductor Andre Thomas and Namibian director, Theo Cookson. We were thrilled to have such talented, caring and professional leaders. We were equally impressed with the diversity of the group as it included young adults and older adults from Namibia. Men and women of all colors and many of Namibia’s ethnic groups sang in this the Musikwoche’s 50th Jubilee. One of the older choristers had sung as a boy in the first concert in 1965.
On the eighth day, Friday, we performed the first concert and repeated it the following evening, both nights to a full house. Some pieces were acapella (Handel, Thomas and two traditional African numbers) and some were with the orchestra (Mendelssohn and Thomas). Swakopmund is not a typical Namibian city! It is a seaside tourist attraction and holiday retreat built by Germans and now professionally managed. (A sense if it @ http://issuu.com/legendsofafrica/docs/profile_of_swakopmund_2015 and at http://www.travelnewsnamibia.com/featured-stories/swakopmund-a-tradition-of-tourism/ )
Our accommodations were a spacious loft above the home of Gabi and Konrad Woermann, two wonderful people whom we will always remember with gratitude and love. They welcomed us warmly, forced us to sip champagne after the concert and introduced us to family members who had come in from Australia and Glasgow for Christmas holiday. And they took good care of us, especially when Barbara became ill.
Even though Barbara contracted a sore throat followed by a nasty sinus infection, topped off with conjunctivitis in both eyes, she persevered – rested a LOT – and was able to sing in both concerts! She mentored two young Namibian altos. I am so proud of her. And I was mentored by several young basses who were incredibly talented. I would have been totally adrift in a sea of notes without them.
On Sunday we went to the emergency room for meds which included antibiotics and a decongestant. Today she is looking better, but still a bit weak and tired. I believe by Christmas Eve she will be near or at 100%.
I was so happy to be able to experience the Swakopmunder Musikwoche. We were outsiders who quickly become insiders. We never thought such an experience would be possible for us in Namibia.
Now we are looking forward to having Christmas dinner with PCVs in Aus a small town about two hours from us. In the winter it will snow in Aus, but the Christmas season is in the heat of summer here.