Fusing music and art is always a mystical experience, something learners at Unisa’s school of music in Soshanguve will discover as their 2013 music training gets underway.
Thanks to Unisa’s Gardens and Grounds team, learners and the community who frequent the Soshanguve venue, will be utilising upgraded facilities that incorporate mosaic artwork that speaks to Unisa’s goal of being an African university united in its diversity.
This music school, a community engagement project of the Unisa Music Foundation, already makes a significant difference in the lives of many young aspiring musicians in this area, some of who have been offered full scholarships to study music at tertiary level.
“Students can now practise and relax on green lawns under the shade of trees,” says Christine Hartdegen, Manager: Gardens and Grounds, who explains that before the upgrade learners were practicing their music in dusty and hot conditions, using tree stumps as benches.
The idea for the upgrade originated in 2009 and, following a feasibility study, an architect was appointed to make suggestions and present designs to improve the facilities at this venue. The architect, Leon Holzapfel, and the construction company, Robenco, were contracted to complete the project, including a hall for music performances.
Hartdegen explains that the upgrade not only reflects aspects of music – instruments such as drums and guitars – but it is reflected through the medium of mosaic art as this links to Principal and Vice-Chancellor Prof Mandla Makhanya’s mosaic theme – a theme he has spoken about on numerous occasions.
Because a mosaic is formed of small pieces, each maintaining its own integrity, form and shape, so that the many small components create a beautiful picture, Makhanya views Unisa’s contributions to the ever-changing higher education landscape, and each staff member’s capacity as pieces of a mosaic that will enable Unisa to shine its multi-hued light into the future, contributing to the development of Africa.
“I personally like the mosaic theme because of what it represents for our university, but it’s also fun and colourful and makes for beautiful art. In addition to the music upgrades, we also painted grass and trees and created a vegetable garden for the community. A volunteer from the community attends to the garden, and the vegetables get distributed to those in the community. It turned out to be such a promising community project,” says Hartdegen.
Makhanya officially opened the upgraded facilities and attended an open air performance by the Soshanguve Youth Symphony Orchestra last year.
Hartdegen says: “It was such a wonderful and brilliant experience to make this happen for this community because in spite of everything that works against them, these learners rise above it and achieve … Listening to the children play takes your breath away. The community was also all smiles and it was amazing to see their support. They would come and listen to the learners play and it was a lot of fun to see all these people, especially children, dance to classical music. ”
Below is a photo gallery of before and after pictures:
*Written by Rivonia Naidu-Hoffmeester