Melodi Music Trust, Soweto
It’s the last day of the school term and there are 30 chattering schoolchildren milling around St Andrew’s Anglican Church in Soweto. The air is filled with the joyous sound of musical chaos, a double bass walks past the window, the liquid notes of a flute, a cellist practising her scales, someone playing their trumpet.
“The children have outgrown the space in this old church house where they practise,” smiles the founder of Melodi Music Trust, Nimrod Moloto. Started in 2002, Melodi Music Trust is a township youth programme which provides children in and around Soweto with an opportunity to read, write and play music. “We start the children on recorders first to see how musical they are. Then they graduate to orchestral instruments as they improve,” explains Nimrod.
Growing from strength to strength, Melodi has given professional recitals in and around Johannesburg, twice performed at Baroque in the Bush with the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra. They’ve also toured Europe, playing in The Hague Conservatoire, Amsterdam, Manchester and London. For the children, it’s often their first time on a plane and their first time overseas.
Inside the church Nimrod has gathered the orchestra to play for us. The children watch him intently as he conducts, his hands and arms moving expressively. “It’s not about the kids becoming full-time musicians,” he says. “It’s that playing music has empowered and developed them. It’s kept them busy for the last nine, ten years of their lives. It has become a companion in their lives.”
The word melodi is SeTswana for ‘whistling’. In 2009, the Old Mutual Foundation supported Melodi Music Trust with R80 000 to purchase musical instruments for the orchestral ensemble group. Patron of Melodi Music Trust is Dr Richard Cock, director and conductor of the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg, Gauteng.