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SoundXchange Choral Festival 1: Saskatoon Children's Choir

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In the first of two weeks celebrating the voices of the young, guest host Shauna Powers brings you the Saskatoon Children's Choir in concert on a South African adventure of a lifetime.

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As you've heard on SoundXchange earlier this season, the Saskatoon Children's Choir set out for a concert tour of South Africa last July. The 42 girls left comfortable homes and fairly sheltered lives to immerse themselves in the sights and sounds of a very different world. The choristers had powerful, and often joyful, exchanges with black and white South Africans of all ages and from all economic backgrounds. They struggled to come to terms with harsh stories of the apartheid regime, and they witnessed some of the country's contemporary challenges by meeting children whose lives have been profoundly affected by poverty and the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Through it all, the girls sang. They sang in concert halls and parking lots, on airplanes and in rural churches. Music was their vehicle for connection, inspiration, and hope. This week on SoundXchange we present excerpts from four concert performances the choir gave on their tour.

At Thomaskirche Lutheran Church in Johannesburg, the choir performed a benefit concert for St. Peter's Child Care. This organization helps deal with South Africa's massive problem of orphaned children by finding and supporting women who are willing to raise a group of orphaned children as their own.

A much-anticipated joint concert was with the internationally acclaimed Drakensberg Boys Choir (who we will feature next week). The Drakensberg Boys Choir School is home to over 100 South African boys and represents the multifaceted cultures of the country.

Before the trip the Saskatoon Children's Choir assembled 'We Care' educational kits for distribution to children around the developing world. They took some of these kits with them on the tour and presented them to children at Siyabonga Helping Hands. It's an educational centre in a rural township near Pietermaritzburg. In the evening the choir also performed a benefit concert for the centre.

Another trip highlight for the choir was participating in a rural church service in the village of Mogwase. Philadelphia Ministries is an inspiring church that preaches a message of hope, peace, reconciliation, and love. Pastor Bishop Ed BIlong is the founder of that church.