- Who is Andante Chorus?
A: A Choral Music entity formed to provide an opportunity for young people to learn, appreciate and develop their musical talent. While it originates from Ramotswa, it is strategically positioned to attract the wider youth populace around the greater Gaborone area, choir bases set up in both Ramotswa and Gaborone.
- When was it formed?
Having been in the choral space for years and with a growing desire to transform the industry, in 2012, a number of choral associates from Ramotswa got together to form the Andante Chorus. The choir would later become a leading choral brand in Botswana, winning a series of prestigious competitions both locally and regionally including performing on nationnal duty.
- What does “Andante”mean?
The word “Andante” in Italian dates back to the 1700s to literally mean, “walking,” as the present participle of “andare” to walk or to go. Around the mid-1700s, Italian composers began to use the word in music composition and soon musicians all over the world knew that if they were playing music and they saw that word, they were to slow down the music tempo to a slow, walking pace. Therefore, “andante” is an indication to play or sing music with a relaxed, natural and moderate tempo; a light, flowing rhythm.
- Who are the members of Andante Chorus?
Andante Chorus is made up of different sets of youth and young adults from different social backgrounds incuding non working, working class and college/university students. The Choir draws its members from Ramotswa and the greater Gaborone. While lack of consistent transport for our dispersed membership remains a challenge, the choir continues to explore ways to support non working youth to ensure they remain in the choir to realize and furthr their musical talent.
- Objectives of Andante Chorus?
As already stated above, amongst the main objectives of the choir is to provide an opportunity for young people to learn, appreciate and develop their talents in music. Further, we aim to participate in the music and cultural education in Botswana and the Region, whilst acting as role models for choral and classical singing and music professionalism.
In view of the foregoing,the Andante Chorus aims to continuously contribute towards inclusive and sustainable development of the communities within which we operate and Botswana. In addition, the Choir acknowledges the role played by the such social movements as ours to inspire the society and bring about social change
- Any achievements, challenges?
We have been in existence for 10 years – the journey has not been an easy one – there has been challenges, disappointments, failures etc, but also, there has been great experiences, success, excitement and most of all, GROWTH! The following are just a tip of what have achieved:
- Winning Championships of the annual President’s Day Choral Music Competitions over multiple years
- Placing in Top 3, in different years, during the Old Mutual National Choir Regional Festival attended by both Botswana and South African choirs
- Placing Top 3 in multiple competitions including the BOCMA festival, BeMobile Choir festival etc
Being a leader in the choral music industry in Botswana, the choir enjoys a lot of exposure during corporate events and has led the national anthem and entertainment at high profile events including those hosted by the International Forums like Southern African Development Community, Southern African Customs Union 6th Heads of States Summit, Commonwealth, Joint Army events just to mention but a few. The highlight of the choir was on 1st April 2018 when the Andante Chorus was invited to sing at the inauguration of the current President of Botswana, H.E. Dr. Mokgweetsi E. K. Masisi.
The journey has been with great challenges including, sustaining the choir especially with transport and general sustenance of the Choir as most of our members are not working or are college/university students. The choir has survived mostly by payouts from our performances and donations from members. Because of this, we will be engaging companies to seek strategic partnerships which will benefit not just the choir but also our strategic partner. We believe that, choral music is a great platform that can be used to communicate and embed key messages and as such, we will engage stakeholders with this in view.
The Choir has stood stead and managed to exist even beyond the fierce challenges of unemployment affecting the youth, lack of sponsorship, lack of rehearsal spaces and generally the current Covid-19 pandemic which has torn a lot of societies and organisations apart.
However, we are greatful to the support of the government of Botswana as it continues to play a huge role in supporting and developing choral music in the country. With the recent birth of the Botswan Arts Council, which is one of the great initiatives by the government, we believe that we will work together with the government and other stakeholders to implement strategies for choral music to contribute to economic development of our country.
- How has Andante Chorus impacted lives?
The Choir has a had a great impact on individual Choir members, with one of our Bass singers, Gaolefufa Kombani having snatched the first prize at the some Classical soloists’ competition at Maitisong, walking away with a P50 000 scholarship to study music in South Africa. Clever Bafisi, the choir’s baritone and deputy Conductor, also participated in the Southern African Voice competition and attained the first position. This is just one of the ways the choir support and assists in the youth empowerment schemes of finding meaningful employment through their vocations. Other Choir members are often called for paid invitations to grace people’s events, which gets them focused on community building and away from social ills that would otherwise be gripping their time. In line with the Botswana’s Vision 2036 Pillar of “Human and Social Development”, the Andante Chorus continues to explore ways to transform its members and develop communities within which we exist.
However, I think the biggest transformation we’ve had is making music together and this is not just about music. The real impact of choral singing is that we delve into the soul of each singer, we feel connected to one another and build community. Choral Art maybe one of the last social platforms where people can still come together, put aside those differences that so much of society use to create barriers to divide people. We seek to build bridges to bring people together into community – and this, has been our greatest achievement over the past 10 years.
- 10 years of choral music, what next?
Andante Chorus prides itself of the level of growth it has contributed to the local Choral Music fraternity since its inception. While the 10 years symbolizes how far we have come from and our success, we see it and will use it as an opportunity to communicate with all our stakeholders what our plans for the next decade are: how we plan to transform the Choir, how we plan to sustain the Choir and how we plan to ensure that all members, as individuals or as a whole, continue to contribute to the development of this genre and effectively become a key player in the economy of this country. Over and above this, will be to build strategic relationship with key stakeholders and support the government’s Reset Agenda on economic inclusion using choral music as an economic driver.
- How do you plan to celebrate the 10th anniversary?
There will be a Gala Dinner on the 22nd of October2022 to celebrate this milestone with our mebers, key stakeholders from different sectors of the economy inlcuding those who have walked this path with us. Several build up events to the final day are being lined up and we will provide details in the next few weeks.