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Jazz Vespers St Georges Cathedral

Jazz Vespers: UWC's CPA goes gospel

On Sunday 25 May, the University of the Western Cape's Centre for Performing Arts (CPA) hosted its third Jazz Vespers service at Saint George's Cathedral  in Cape Town. The UWC Saxophone Ensemble added some spirited music to the evening prayer service, to the great delight of the many parishioners who expressed their gratitude afterwards.

The Dean of St. George’s Cathedral, the Revd. Michael Weeder, invited the UWC CPA to partner with the Cathedral in providing an opportunity for UWC CPA students to have a performance platform within the Cape Town CBD. The talented young musicians registered at the UWC CPA provided music that uplifted and entertained, free of charge. This initiative encompasses the UWC CPA’s community engagement focus.

“Our focus on community engagement makes it possible for any talented artist to study at UWC's CPA – whether school learners, UWC students or other students, or those already employed,” explains Henriette Weber, Director of the CPA. “What we offer here is lifelong learning – which means there is no age limit to the intake of students.”

Students like the orchestra's 18-year-old alto saxophonist, Courtney Julius, who hails from Eerste River and attends Malibu High School, started her music tuition at the Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre while attending primary school. She would not have been able to afford to continue tuition in high school had she not been selected to join the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra's Outreach Programme. This year she joined the UWC Wind Orchestra and registered as a saxophone student at the UWC CPA.

“I never would have given up music, even if I just continued playing in our church band,” she says, “but I'm very grateful to be involved in the UWC Wind Orchestra.”

Tenor saxophonist from Grassy Park, Geoffrey Abrahams, played in church and at school since the age of seven, but went on to qualify as a photographer and is currently studying to be a chef. “I really wanted to get back into music part-time, because I love it,” he says. “And when I heard I could be part of UWC’s Wind Orchestra, it sparked my interest and I jumped at it.”

Accredited music courses have been lacking from UWC since the closure of the Music Department in 2002. But in 2013, the WC Senate approved two accredited music courses – the Intermediate Programme in Music and the Advanced Programme in Music – which were rolled out this year, with 35 students currently registered. These programmes and ensembles are bringing about a new energy to the UWC community and the Western Cape community at large, especially amongst communities and students who are talented, but who lack opportunities to pursue their passion.

Weber is proud of the CPA's students. “The talent is already there,” she says, “and it's our responsibility to develop that talent, no matter what the socio-economics circumstances.”

Jazz Vespers evenings are open to all who wish to attend, free of charge. So, if you're struggling to make up your mind between attending church and listening to good music at 6pm on the right Sunday, struggle no more – UWC's Centre for the Performing Arts and St. George's Cathedral have you covered.

Look out for the UWC Wind Orchestra in action at the Jazz Vespers on Sunday 29 June 2014 at 18:00.

Click to Watch the YouTube Clip