African jazz combo crosses international lines

Sarah King
Contributing Writer

VCU hosted a jazz concert that joined VCU’s Africa combo jazz group and the University of Kwazulu-Natal Asihambe Jazz Ensemble from South Africa in the W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts on Wednesday, Oct. 30.

The concert was a collaboration between the partner schools and featured pieces written by students of both VCU and UKZN’s jazz programs as well as the directors of each school.

“I was part of this program last year, so I’m a returning member,” said saxophone player and VCU student Trey Sorrells. “It feels so great to be back this year and to be able to contribute some of my music to the cause. I’m so humbled to be a part of this,” Sorrells said. His piece, titled “October 1st,” kicked off the night’s program.

This is the second year that the VCU/UKZN exchange has taken place, and the South African students arrived in Richmond on Sunday, Oct. 27 and returned Friday, Nov. 1.

“It’s been awesome! We’ve had a great time, everything’s great — the students have been so nice, everyone on campus has been so welcoming,” said Thobeka Langa, a student of UKZN and the vocalist during Wednesday’s performance.

Although the Ashibe ensemble will be leaving VCU at the end of this week, the collaboration between the two groups will continue, said director of jazz studies at VCU Antonio Garcia.

“It’s very exciting to renew and make new friendships across continents through music,” Garcia said. “This is going to begin friendships for students that may last an extremely long time as they work together for the next five months to prepare for our next concert in March.”

Another concert featuring both groups will take place in Durban, South Africa in March, showcasing pieces the VCU and UKZN groups have worked on together over the Internet.

“It was such a cool thing to see how well the groups meshed and worked together, especially considering they’ve only been formed for about a month,” said Richy Jones, a percussion major who attended the Wednesday performance. “It was a great performance.”

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