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Nairobi Chamber Chorus charm audiences in Denmark

By George Orido | Published Fri, September 15th 2017 at 15:51, Updated September 15th 2017 at 17:25 GMT +3
Nairobi Chamber Chorus led by Ken Wakia performing during their current two-week Denmark tour (George Orido)

It is a warm sunny summer and the church bells are tolling religiously, like they have since 1556 when they were hoisted, from the tower at the old Horne Church. With that, worshippers troop in for the evening Sunday service.

On this day there are special guests from Kenya who will animate the Lutheran service with music from Africa.

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There is a lot of excitement in the air as Vicar Jesper Hartvig takes to the altar to start the service, his back to the congregation just like in the old Latin Mass in the Catholic tradition.

After the introductions the Nairobi Chamber Chorus take the stage, led by Ken Wakia, and from that moment the church is immersed in solemn vocals. In a short time, the hitherto quiet audience lets out gasps and sobs, and many whip out  handkerchiefs to wipe tears from their face.

It becomes uncontrollable as the group sings the South African peace song Ukhuthula led by soloists Maureen Obadha and Grace Awiti.

The performance is followed by a prolonged standing ovation after a rich repertoire, including songs such as Ting’a Malo (Lift Me Up), Wana Baraka (They Are Blessed) and Kokolilo – a Luhya song depicting the Biblical story of Apostle Peter denying Jesus three times before the cock crows.

“This has been an extremely good evening at this church. It is the first time a group from Africa has ever performed here since it was built in the time of Reformation,” said pastor Jesper, standing under a huge 22 stop organ dating 1940.

True to his word, one song, Indodana, is a remembrance of departed souls and it reverberated like sounds from the after world in this church that has a beautiful graveyard.

“I am very happy with our performance today and I thank the Danish people through the Danish Embassy in Nairobi for sponsoring the trip,” intoned Wakia amid deafening applause from the audience at the end of the evening.

Well, this huge reception has been seen in the other shows including at Faaborg Continuation School where over 300 students and community members arrived early to capture the front seats for the best view.

Here the crowd could not hold it as the group sang the Luo gospel hit, Niwara Nono; they clapped and danced from their seats while others stood to join in the jig.

Before that evening’s show, the nearly 200 students had performed two songs for the group two songs, Imagine by John Lennon and Let It Be by Paul McCartney and Lennon.

A mugiithi dance came in handy as the ‘train dance’ took course for nearly ten minutes into the end of the show.

“We are very proud to host you here in Faaborg and as a people we welcome cultural exchange and diversity,” said the mayor of Faarborg Town, Christian Thygesen at a luncheon hosted by him for the choir at the Town Hall.

There was a sizeable flash mob at the Faaborg Town Square when the staff of Sydbank led by Morten Kunoe Smidt joined the Nairobi Chamber Chorus in a dance.

But the toast of the week was the performance last night at the Lutheran Church in Haarby where 500 people jammed the church. The heavy evening storm did not dampen their spirits to come and see this famed Kenyan choral group that had previously performed for Queen Elizabeth of England and U.S President Barack Obama.

“It is a dream come true for me to have this choir hosted here in Denmark,” said Jens Bang in the company of his wife Anni who are behind the tour.

On their arrival last Saturday, the choir was welcomed by the Horne Mandeskor Choir under the directorship of Jorgen Rasmussen. They delightfully sang the Kenyan national anthem and the Danish traditional song, Denmark My Motherland.

The team will be in Denmark till September 23.


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