Zululand University Chorale visits Boone

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Regina Nasrallah

More than 200 people gathered in the tudor revival sanctuary of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church to hear the voices of the University of Zululand Chorale on Friday.

Fifteen members of the 90 member Chorale are visiting Boone and Appalachian State University this month to perform. The group enjoyed the season’s first App State football game, visited and performed with students of Watauga Residential College, toured the App State campus and performed throughout Watauga county.

Chorale director Bhekani Buthelezi, a former visiting lecturer at Appalachian State, said he feels at home on the campus. “[The football game] was fun, especially when we said ‘App State, App State,’” Buthelezi said. “The atmosphere and the flare and pride of ASU- that was wonderful, that was overwhelming.”

Friday’s concert brought a diverse crowd to St. Luke’s: serious musicians, members of the church, students and staff from Appalachian State, and Watauga County residents. The parking lot was completely full, with cars spilling out onto the grass.

The performance began with a standing ovation from the crowd, before the chorale began to sing. Once the audience settled down the chorale began its performance.

Most of the songs were in Zulu or Swahili and only a few in English. The traditional music was notably up-beat, with members of the Chorale clapping, swaying and dancing to the rhythm. During the last song, Buthelezi encouraged members of the audience to clap and move with the chorale. The entire audience stood and moved together in the small church.

“It is amazing,” Buthelezi said. “You are just on another level. When we are rehearsing at the university, we are technically correct, but when we are here, you know the spirits and the environment everything was just right and with the right people.”

The chorale members wore traditional South African clothing, tied together with umqele, traditional head gear worn by the males, and ubuklali, beads worn on the head and neck by the females. Buthelezi wore a shirt designed like the South African Flag and red Converse to match.

The University of Zululand Chorale will be collaborating in performance with ensembles on campus at the Broyhill Music Center’s Rosen Concert Hall on Sept. 16.

Story by Regina Nasrallah, Intern News Reporter