Under African Skies
by Samantha Carolus
This year one of the new items on the Spiritfest programme will be a Choral Multi-Media service ‘Under African Skies’, featuring choral music and hymns from South African composers and those beyond our borders sung by the Grahamstown Cathedral Choir in a darkened church with powerfully gripping images of the African continent and skies projected onto a huge screen. The choir will be directed by Kutlwano Kepadisa, and the music and images were compiled by Ronald and Jenny Gill from Johannesburg, some of the music being Ron’s own compositions.
Jenny and Ronald Gill started a church in their own home in 2003, converting their garage into a church. Wanting a “barn-like” feel to their Christmas mass, they utilised the garage space, newly converted into a church, filled it with candles, and projected images onto a screen. The Gills wanted to break away from the traditional Carols by Candlelight, and through this developed the idea of projecting images along with carols.
Each service that the Gills have devised, has followed a theme, like the service that the Gills will perform at Spiritfest. ‘Under African Skies’ will feature over 250 vast images of our beautiful landscape and vegetation, with the powerful colours of our skies, the animals who walk our terrain, and the people who live in our beautiful country.
Jenny explains the reasoning behind the dark room with the only light in the room coming from the screen projecting images, and candles, as allowing nothing or no one person but God to take centre stage. The position of the screen is above the average person’s height, which forces one to look upwards. This improves everyone’s singing and creates a better atmosphere. As those present in the church see, hear and speak the words, they make an impact, and have a lasting effect on the viewer.
This is sure to be a worship service like none other under our African skies. Catch it on Friday 30 June in Grahamstown Cathedral at 5.30pm.
For more about Spiritfest see http://www.grahamstowncathedral.org/spiritfest