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The Harborfields High School Jazz Band was fortunate enough to welcome four award-winning jazz musicians from South Africa on Sept. 16.
Students spent the morning learning aural traditions under the instruction of pianist Bokani Dyer, trumpeter Lesedi Ntsane, bassist Benjamin Jephta and drummer Kesivan Naidoo, who taught the students to play South African standard songs like “Mannenberg,” “Inner Peace” and “Wicked Whispers.”
The quartet then performed for the school’s band and orchestra, imparting musical history and culture lessons along the way. Those lessons transitioned over to Michelle DaSilva’s Advanced Placement world history classes, where the musicians discussed apartheid — a South African policy of segregation — in the post-apartheid era.
The musicians were members of a South African Jazz retrospective that recently performed at the Lincoln Center in New York City, marking the 25th anniversary of democracy in South Africa.
“It was truly a one-of-a-kind experience,” Music Department Coordinator and Jazz Band Director Dan Bilawsky said. “To be able to explore South African music, history and culture with some of these musical leading lights leading the way proved to be an unforgettable experience.”