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Zebra Crossing

Soweto String Quartet

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Album Review

Soweto String Quartet are four musicians from the apartheid-created township of Soweto, South Africa, which was established when blacks were forced to moved out of racially integrated Sophiatown in the early 1950's. Though the members are classically trained musicians and the instruments (first and second violins, viola and cello) make up a traditional string quartet, the music and arrangements found here are not what you would expect. The Soweto String Quartet perform traditional African hymns, folk songs and lullabies, all with their own original arrangements. It is distinctly African music played on traditionally European instruments, and that approach creates new and wonderful music. The members also perform arrangements of songs by some of their favorite contemporary musicians. Selections from Paul Simon's Graceland are performed in a seamless medley, and Sting's "St. Agnes and the Burning Train" gets a great melodic treatment. The quartet's arrangement of Dave Grusin's "Bossa Baroque" is an innovative interpretation of a classic piece. The Soweto String Quartet gets help on several tracks from a quartet of drums, bass, percussion and guitars, but they stay wisely in the background and allow the Quartet to shine. This is definitely not for the narrow-minded lover of traditional classical music. But it is music well worth spending some time with, though it may seem a bit strange at first listen. The Soweto String Quartet have created a tribute to their rich musical background and homeland, while expressing their own talents and love for modern music.

Biography

Genre: World

Years Active: '90s

The Soweto String Quartet emerged during the late 1980s around the nucleus of the three Khemese brothers — violinists Sandile and Thami, and cellist Reuben. The sons of a conductor father and a choral-singing mother, the Khemese siblings attended their uncle's township music school, with Sandile and Reuben later serving as violinists with the Soweto Symphony Orchestra. During the early half of the 1980s, Sandile continued his studies in the UK, including a four-year stint at Manchester's Royal...
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Zebra Crossing, Soweto String Quartet
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