Can you imagine what music might sound like to someone who is blind?
CBM South Africa, a branch of the world’s biggest disability charity, has teamed up with the Cape Town Youth Choir to raise awareness of the organisation and the work we do to create sustainable change and improve lives of people with disabilities.
Concert tickets include refreshments.
We’ve entitled the programme, “Into the Light” and it contains works by well known and lesser known composers.
That is the blurb summing up this incredible event taking place on the 6th of October at the Hugo Lamprechts Auditorium in Parow, Cape Town. An evening of music in the dark to raise awareness and money for CBM South Africa, who is doing incredible work in a variety of ways and places across the country.
I was fortunate enough to catch Dr William Rowland [spokesperson for CBM South Africa] on the phone yesterday for a short interview to learn some more about this amazing-sounding event:
Firstly, what is your personal involvement with CBM? I am currently the chairperson of CBM, South Africa and also a member of the international board of CBM.
Two years ago I was approached by two local people and invited to be on the board and immediately became involved in a detailed restructuring process for the organisation.
After the first year of my involvement the chairman stood down and I was asked to take over the chair.
Tell us a little bit about this upcoming event: ‘Concert in the Dark’ is a fundraiser for the work of CBM in South Africa. To give you some idea of the scope of CBM in 2017 we were in 54 countries and reached over 9.1 million disabled people. We also distribute drugs which fight neglected tropical diseases and reached abother 23 million people that way. CBM is relatively small and new in South Africa – we are running an absolute model community bases inclusive development program in the Eastern Cape – where 1200 disabled people in rural areas have gained access to health, schools, social grants etc.
We are training twelve eye doctors at Groote Schuur at a time who mostly come from the South Africa region who will work throughout Africa as there is a huge shortage of eye doctors across the continent. Then we will be doing follow up missions to check up on the progress of the doctors we have sent out.
So back to this event – it is to raise funds specifically for CBM’s programs in South Africa. Because the administrative costs of CBM South Africa are covered by the parent body in Germany, funds raised here will go directly into the two main programmes that CBM supports. The first, which is really relevant to the concert’s message is an initiative to provide cataract surgery for disadvantaged people in Limpopo and that’s where the ticket sales will go to.
In this concert – part of which will be in complete darkness, the Cape Town Choir under the direction of Leon Starker will perform a range of pieces which vary in timbre, vocal color and texture and there’s a bit of something for everyone. The programme is entitled “Into the Light” and it contains works by well-known and lesser-known composers.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the concert itself: The show itself is a Concert in the Dark but we are calling it ‘Into the Light’. This is the first time we are trying something like this in South Africa. The Italian Branch of CBM have been doing it and it has been tremendously successful there. I attended in Milan last year – they normally have 120 people in the room but for the fundraiser they have had up to 1500. A well-known Italian pianist improvises for 45 minutes – the concert starts in the light and then the lights are gradually dimmed until the audience is in complete darkness and the music goes on for 30 minutes in the dark.
It’s not advisable for people to wear blindfolds, people do cheat, I’ve seen this at some of the Dinners in the Dark I have attended. I can tell at the dinners when there’s no mess people have been cheating and when they don’t cheat there is food scattered around the table. Which gives the participant a closer connection and understanding to those who cannot see. Music in the dark is obviously a metaphor for our work – last year we performed 413 000 cataract surgeries which means that many people had their sight restored and they literally moved from darkness into light. The Cape Town Youth Choir will be performing on the 6th of October at the Hugo Lamprechts Centre in Parow.
People will be coming for fun
Thank you so much for your time. One final question, though. This concert and the work you are doing has special significance for you, is that correct? I am totally blind and have been since the age of five so this work feels particularly significant. I enjoy people’s reactions and the effect it has on people – it just is a new experience with a different dimension of music and one picks it up even as a blind person. My main profession for most of my life was heading up the SA Council for the Blind and now I am continuing with my involvement with CBM
Inspiring words from Dr William Rowland who is the spokesperson for CBM, South Africa. Concert in the Dark will be happening on the 6th of October and you can get your tickets via Webticket or by clicking here.
The tickets bought for the concert include refreshments. The ticket sales will go towards the operation of those who are visually impaired. The concert aims to educate the stages of being visually impaired and why some are curable yet expensive to those that need it most.