Review: 8th Annual World AIDS Day Gala Concert

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aids day galaYou have probably heard of singer, actor and dancer Jimmie Earl Perry.  Dig a little deeper and you find that Perry has worked with the likes of Luther Vandross, Celine Dion, and Leonard Bernstein and many others. But how many of us knew that this charismatic, American born artist is now a professor atStellenboschUniversity’s Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management.  I know I didn’t.

To be precise, Jimmie Earl Perry is the Director of Educational Theatre and Creative Arts, the community mobilization arm of the Africa Institute for HIV/AIDS Management. There he strives to empower people living with the virus (and affected by it) through the creative arts. So he was a natural choice to produce and direct the 8th Annual World Aids Day Gala Concert.

This star-studded event took place in grand style on Saturday 1 December 2012 at Artscape Opera House under the theme “An Evening of Inspiration and Celebration.”

The Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management under the leadership of Prof. Jan Du Toit continues to make significant strides with its academic programme while establishing strategic partnerships locally and abroad. This evening was a celebration of those achievements and progress, as well as moments of reflection and inspiration.

Jimmie Earl Perry opened the concert with a monologue, which was followed by a video screening. Then the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra performed a piece from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville (an opera which, incidentally, is due to be performed by the Cape Town Opera and UCT Opera School in November next year). I’ve always been fascinated by classical music but to watch an orchestra perform is something of beauty. The harmony of sound and the meticulousness of each instrumentalist leaves one in awe.

One of the major highlights of the evening was MC Wolfgang Riebe who kept us in stitches with his wit and enthralled by his magic tricks.

The velvet-voiced Janelle Visagie mesmerised the audience with a rendition of ‘Habanera’ from Bizet’s Carmen accompanied by the CPO.  This dynamic soprano then performed in duet with the vivacious Golda Schultz on ‘Lak’ and ‘Scandalize My Name’, backed by the CPO and the New Apostolic Church Cape Choir.

Guest speaker Bunmi Makinwa, the Director of United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Africa Regional Office highlighted some of the progress and milestones made in the fight against HIV/AIDS in the world, and particularly in Africa. He stressed, inevitably, that despite these significant gains more work still needs to be done to curb the scourge of HIV/AIDS in the African continent.

Prof. Du Toit then presented awards in recognition of individuals and organizations who make a sterling contribution in the educational initiatives and work of the Africa Centre for HIV/AIDS Management.

The World Aids Day Gala Concert has always given opportunity to young and upcoming musicians, and this year we were introduced to the singing and songwriting talent of 14 year old Rone Roux who rendered a spirited performance and inspiring lyrics with her composition, ‘Forever Free’.

The evening drew to a close with the talented crew from the Cape Dance Company delivering smooth flowing moves and precise choreography. Their synchronized movements and attention to detail is majestic to watch. With the full cast then performing together to ‘Spread the Love Around’ it was a moving ending to a night of celebration and inspiration.

Luvuyo Mncanca

The 8th Annual World Aids Day Gala Concert took place on 1st December 2012 at Opera House Artscape.

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