Monday, 14 July 2014


I meant to draw unobtrusively on the lawn outside a stately home but I'm instantly surrounded by young Sowetans joking, joshing and putting it all on instagram.

'Give him more wrinkles.'

They've been rehearsing for tonight's concert in the suitably baroque setting of Boughton House in Northamptonshire. And because this is the Buskaid Soweto String Ensemble, solo singers will put down their instruments after the Bach and Rameau to hit you between the eyes with show tunes.

They end each concert with their string arrangements of kwela - South African township music complete with drumming, whistles, clicks and hisses like dry grass.

Redefine Properties are among their sponsors. Buskaid repays support by changing lives and putting on barnstorming evenings like this, if you can describe the tapestry-lined Great Hall full of oval portraits as a barn.

There is a rival attraction at Boughton House today: AA road signs lead to TOUGH MUDDER. Messy running. It's popular. Rosemary Nalden runs Buskaid, teaching the older players to teach the younger. She has dedicated her life to them. They call her mother. And she is tough.

Please follow the signs to Rosemary if you can. The school is worth maintaining.

You get charm and enchantment here.

Tonight's songs are My funny Valentine and What'll I do when you are far away?

Stay, little Valentine, stay. Each day is Valentine's Day.

More pictures if you scroll down.

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