Praises for choral hue

Winkie Dibakwane

Winkie Dibakwane

Sam Shabalala stands proud as the first to translate George Fri deric Handel's Messiah into Zulu.

This huge milestone led to the Messiah being sung in Zulu in 1993 at the Pietermaritzburg city hall.

"The hall was too small to pack in the more than 2000 people who had come to listen, so we had to run the performance over two days,'' said Shabalala, who has three honorary doctorates from three universities to his credit.

He said he got accolades from many people, including Mzilikazi Khumalo and Sibusiso Nyembezi.

"Professor Khumalo also did the critique on the book Messiah, which I wrote in 1994 after the performance,'' he said.

Other songs that Shabalala has translated into Zulu are Navidad Nuestra , composed by Ramirez, and Gloria, by Antonio Vivaldi.

Shabalala does freelance work for Ukhozi FM in music production and trains choirs in all genres of music, including gospel, mbube, mgcashiyo and maskandi.

Shabalala said the standard of today's choral music was fairly good, but conductors needed thorough training in choral techniques and conducting.

"The modern conductors should be communicative in the phrases, the colour of the words and the movement of the music.

"They should learn to mould the words and the feelings of the phrases with all the elements of choral technique,'' he said.