Bringing Down The House

Walt Disney Concert Hall played host for the first time to South Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir on December 22nd and what occurred during their concert was an inexplicable kind of magic.  Perhaps the holiday spirit contributed to it or the architecture of Disney Hall, but the a cappella group that has stunned audiences worldwide was in inspiring form on Tuesday.  The theme of the evening was an African spiritual journey, which included songs in Zulu, a beautiful rendition of “This Little Light of Mine”, and an awe-inspiring “Amazing Grace” garnering a mid-concert standing ovation.

The Choir is so well choreographed that you forget the majority of their songs are sung without instruments save a couple of drums.  Their colorful, traditional costume and whimsical dance routines make you forget that you are in the Walt Disney Concert Hall.  With a roster of the most renowned classical musicians from around the world, I am sure that these were the first rappers to grace their stage.  One highlight of the concert happened when a table with plates, glasses, and silverware became a percussive instrument for three men.  The rest of the men danced and sang to the beat creating an intricate rhythm and allowing us a choreographed glimpse into the fun they must have on tour.

While the focus is the group as a whole, each member is able to stand out individually – and they do.  Where one breaks from the group to play the guitar in the background, the other moves to the front to do continual high kicks.  Most impressive, though, are the individual voices singled out in each song.  Together they create a cohesive whole, but individually they represent an impressively wide vocal range.  They each sing with their own level of abandon and explosive energy.

Just following their third standing ovation, they sang Christmas carols in honor of the season.  Their versions of “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” and “Silent Night” introduced a truly magical spirit to the songs we know and love.  Everyone was on their feet, clapping along to the rhythm of the season.

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