I was so excited when I first learned about Credo, a new multimedia oratorio in a similar mould to REwind, a cantata, by Philip Millar which I saw a few years ago and loved.
Produced by Pina Ya Thari and supported by UNISA Credo is based on South Africa’s Freedom Charter. UNISA is 140 years old this year (2013). Credo is intended to be a musical reflection of the social vision enshrined in that historic document.
Credo’s creative team comprises South African composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen, novelist Brent Meersman, multimedia artist Andrew Black and producer Brenda Sisane. Designed to be premiered on International Mandela Day (Nelson Mandela’s 95th birthday on 18 July 2013) the work is 67 minutes long.
The press release said: “Pina Ya Thari believes that South Africa has a historical and cultural obligation to share the legacy of the Freedom Charter with the world and that Credo will be an important contribution to the growing body of 21st century artistic work based on the struggles, triumphs and victories of the country’s turbulent history.”
The oratorio used three soloists: Sibongile Khumalo, Otto Maidi and Monika Wassung. The Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Gauteng Choristers were conducted by Jonas Alber.
It is always exciting being part of a world premiere of a major work and the audience on 18 July 2013 were mostly thrilled to be part of this Mandela Day audience at which President Jacob Zuma and a host of diplomats from various embassies were also present.
Now for my reaction to the work. It lacked the emotional impact of REwind, and it would have been dry and academic without the multi-media presentation. Brent Meersman’s libretto was not always easy to follow without the words in the programme despite being in English. However, overall the music was pleasing, that unique fusion between African and classical music which characterises much of the serious choral work emanating from this country at the moment. The goodwill generated by the auspicious occasion, the dignity of the event and the general graciousness of the happening made this a very special evening and one I will never forget.