Located on the edge of the torrid Namib Desert where Antarctic currents and strong winds cool down the Atlantic Ocean on the coast, the German-named coastal Namibian town, Swakopmund is the venue of an interesting musical festival Swakopmunder Musikwoche seeking to bridge the rift between blacks and whites from an old backdrop of apartheid and racial segregation.
Religion has brought us some of the most colorful festivals and events. While some of these festivals have transcended local boundaries and have become global celebrations, others have remained within the confines of the local origin. Sometimes however, some festivals are borne from a need to bridge the gaps in society.
Swakopmund Music Week: Orchestral Music in the Desert
Instituted by the German Evangelic-Lutheran church, Swakopmunder Musikwoche (Swakopmund Music Week) was first held in December 1965 and apart from a couple of times, has been a regular occurrence since. The music festival has grown from its humble beginning of a meeting of musical lay enthusiasts in Swakopmund without public performances, into a big event attracting foreign participants.
Traditionally, Swakopmunder Musikwoche takes place just before Christmas, since that is the period of summer vacation in southern Africa. Participants at the festival which lasts about 9-10 days, include musicians, lecturers, and instructors from Germany, South Africa and the US with the locals, bringing a mix of blacks and whites, old and young together to play.
Participation is open to all, although a small registration fee has to be paid, and of course participants need to bring their own instruments and bandstands. Swakopmunder Musikwoche usually culminates with a series of concerts offered to the public featuring the orchestra, choir and big bands who have come to grace the music fest.
Interestingly, 2015 has been declared the Jubilee Year since it marks the 50th year of Swakopmunder Musikwoche. The dates for this special Jubilee edition has been announced and the music festival will commence on December 11 and come to an end with the concert concluding on the 20th at 12:00 midnight.
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