What they’re saying about Zimbe!
ZIMBE! – COME SING THE SONGS OF AFRICA! by Alexander L’Estrange
“Just to let you know that the ZIMBE performance in Salisbury last Saturday was hugely successful with a sell out audience who gave the performers a standing ovation and encores at the end. ZIMBE was a real winner- everyone loved it.” John Powell, St John Singers, Salisbury
“The choir and audience were thrilled with the whole experience. Please pass on my thanks and admiration to the wonderful band.” Ian Assersohn, Leatherhead Choral Society
“Thank you for your input into last night’s concert, it was a terrific occasion and one that the school will be talking about for a long time! It certainly was the first of its kind at Leweston and I hope that this will give our choral soc a bit of a shake up, now they have experienced a free-er style of singing. Your ideas yesterday were really helpful – especially the humming of Alleluia on the repeat in no. 10 – wow, I was choking up. The band were fantastic – what a treat to have them as well as you!” Claire Hawkes, Leweston School
“I think the whole evening, and in particular Zimbe!, was quite the most fun evening we have ever had, and it was just great watching the audience swaying and clapping to the music. So many of them had big smiles all through the evening. It was just magic. Will you pass on my thanks to Alexander; he gave us so much confidence in just singing for the sheer joy and forgetting about our scores – although I must admit I had an occasional peek to remind myself about the next semi-chorus entry – but we just had to watch him. An unforgettable evening of music.” Members of Windsor Royal Free Singers, Zimbe concert
“Here at Hampshire Music Service we found ‘Zimbe!’ was the ideal vehicle to bring a variety of vocal forces together in a vibrant and lively project. It provided material for a series of workshops in schools at Key Stage 2, gave us the opportunity to support the formation of a new adult community choir and gave our more experienced choral singers in both children and young adult choirs ample scope to participate fully in the semi-chorus work. ‘Zimbe!’ provides a flexibility that would suit a wide range of settings, especially those where partnership work is a focus. Having ‘Call me Al’ to provide the accompaniment on the day gave a confidence to the singers, a security to the performance and together with the valuable input from the composer, injected both authenticity and fun! The piece stands successfully on its own or as part of a larger event and would suit a range of venues and settings.” Shirley Taylor, Assistant Head, Hampshire Music Service
“This 40-minute piece, which traditionally would have been called a cantata, qualifies for review in a church music magazine by virtue of the number of movements within it based on African gospel music, and its recent, successful performances in sacred venues, including Lichfield and Ely cathedrals where the cathedral choristers joined adult singers and children from local primary schools.
The writing for the children is particularly skilful: the African melodies are easily learnt and then fit easily into the surrounding musical texture. The songs include the Methodist sacred song ‘Singabahambayo Thina’, wedding songs from Zimbabwe and South Africa, and among four other South African songs the ubiquitous Siyahamba, ‘We are marching in the light of God’, in an uplifting, spirit-stirring arrangement.
If you have an opportunity to combine adult singers and local schools, do look at the whole work. Equally, I look forward to hearing individual movements enriching worship as I am sure will happen once singers experience this infectiously-tuneful collection of pieces.” Stephen Patterson – Church Music Quarterly
“A profoundly moving work, Zimbe! consists of songs from all over Africa, arranged by UK composer L’Estrange, and performed by a mixed adult choir, children’s choir and a jazz quintet featuring the deft Simon Allen (sax), Adam Riley (percussion) and Mike Bradley (drums). The combination of swing, gospel and a cappella has an immediate impact. From the opener, Njooni! Zimbe!, through to the original Song for the soul, Alexander has captured the essence of the material and generated impassioned performances. An important release which will hopefully inspire school groups and choirs nation-wide to perform these pieces.” The Musician Magazine,
“Well done Alex, we had a great night! Zimbe is a fantastic piece to sing!” Concert organiser,
“What a fantastic day! Troubles at work seem so insignificant now as the music is wonderfully uplifting for the soul. I was so impressed with how good the choir was and how quickly they picked it up under your fantastic guidance.” Michael Powles, Harpenden Choral Society
“Well done to Harpenden Choral Society – top performance yesterday! And didn’t the “Call Me Al” band ROCK!” Audience member Harpenden
London Oratory School, UK
“Thanks so much for your brilliant work with the choirs and children last week – I thought it went really very well and the children and parents LOVED it. I think Zimbe is a great piece and is just perfect for what it does – I’ll recommend it to anyone!” Lee Ward, Director of Music, London Oratory School
“Compliments to your composition! It was a pleasure to play it and as well a great success.” Johannes Schild, pianist
Dunedin, New Zealand
“The Zimbe! concert last night was great – beyond our wildest dreams. The audience quickly joined us and grooved along with the music. They sat there with big grins on their faces, swaying to the music or bobbing up and down in their chairs, like corks in the water. It was soooo much fun. Well done! City of Dunedin Choir!” Choir member
“Zimbe! was an outstanding success tonight – a sell-out by Friday, and a standing ovation after an encore!” David Burchell, Dunedin conductor.
“Your enthusiasm was infectious and I really enjoyed singing the piece” Choir member
Stoke on Trent, UK
“I was involved as a teacher for the children’s choir for the performance of Zimbe! in Stoke-on-Trent. We had enjoyed rehearsing the songs by ourselves, but putting it together with the other parts was incredible. I think I spent most of the performance with tingles down my spine. I’ve been lucky in my career to sing in concerts of all types of music , but I have to say Zimbe! comes out as one of the best. Alexander’s great enthusiasm and passion for the music was very clear and I don’t ever remember working with a conductor who danced along whilst conducting – it was fantastic.” Emma Gordon
“Thank you so much for Thursday! I loved every minute of it. It was the most incredible experience of my life, you are an inspiration…” Choir member
It was excellent! Almost a full house, the choir was stunning, the Safaricom boss was close to tears, the children were super cute and everyone had a great time!
“Hearty congratulations to Alexander for his piece and his performance. It was a most exciting evening and Zimbe! was a perfect choice for that set of (mainly young) performers. A great evening.” Terry Edwards, Founder and Musical Director of London Voices
“Zimbe! is simple to learn, attractive to sing, and exhilarating to perform: it will not be long before it is being performed across the land.” Peter Allwood, Headmaster of Lichfield Cathedral School
“I couldn’t stand still for wanting to dance to the vibrancy of the music.” Cathy Lamb, ‘Sing Up’ Cathedral Outreach Programme Representative / children’s choir trainer
“The music proved infectious. It was exciting to sing and move to, and none of the singers can get the tunes out of their heads! The costumes were colourful, we had African paintings and decorations in the church, and dramatic flowers!
“The performance was a wonderful experience, thoroughly enjoyed by performers and audience of alike. One of the audience said it was the best Sunday afternoon he had had in years!” Carol Gedye, Conductor
“As a Director of Music, I know how frustrating it is to find new repertoire for a large number of voices. When I found Zimbe!, I was very excited as it had everything I was looking for. There are just so many ways one can make this masterpiece work, with dancing, visual effects and using your venue to make Zimbe! a lasting memory for performer and audience a like. It also has the advantage of being 40 minutes which fits perfectly into one half of a concert.” Neil Porter Thaw, Director of Music, Ely Cathedral School