Alexander L'Estrange


It has been a long time since the musical world has felt it can wholeheartedly sing out but on Saturday 2nd July, Luminosa will do just that in a vibrant concert proclaiming the cultural richness of Africa, and people who are diverse by just about any measure.

The entire family of Luminosa choirs will perform together for the first time since the pandemic in a concert that crosses boundaries and celebrates what unites rather than divides people. The programme will showcase Alexander L’Estrange’s Zimbe, a sequence of choral arrangements of traditional songs in jazz style. And since jazz grew out of blues which itself sprang from the mouths of African people, what better accompaniment for these songs than a jazz quintet composed of drums, bass, keyboard, saxophone and copious auxiliary percussion.

Fresh from their success at the Basingstoke Music Festival, in which both choirs took first place with distinctions, Luminosa Young Voices and Luminosa Rising Voices, enthusiastically led by Jonathan Upfold and Joshua Robinson respectively, will perform two joyous pieces alongside the adult choir. Alexander L’Estrange shares Luminosa’s mission to give children a chance to sing in exciting concerts and venues outside school and grow in confidence and choral autonomy. This work gives young singers their own vocal line, which is fun, empowering and leads to a performance they will remember forever.

Alexander L’Estrange started his own musical career as a young chorister which launched his fascination for all musical genres. Together with his wife (singer and arranger, Joanna Forbes), he played with The Swingle Singers from 1999-2004.

His affinity with African music was established serendipitously in a chance encounter on a train with a woman on her way to run a workshop in a prison. She had many African gospel songs she was keen to teach and share but confessed to lacking confidence in leading a singing workshop. He offered to help and the rest, as they say, is history. Alexander l’Estrange’s love affair with African music was forged, particularly the manifold ways in which music plays a part in everyday life in that vast continent. Zimbe (meaning ‘Sing them’) bears witness to the spirited, energetic and simple way that is typical of the African song tradition. According to the composer, the act of singing and listening to Zimbe is a communion between people ‘in a realm where music imitates life and life inspires music’.

Zimbe touches the emotions. It is at times moving and at other times funky and grooving but all the time uplifting for performers and audiences alike. The excitement, verve and energy are all distinctly African, including the syncopation and contemporary jazz improvisatory styles which are the perfect serotonin hit for a summer’s evening.

Luminosa Voices will be conducted by their gifted and enthusiastic choral director, Rebekah Abbott, with pianist Adam Blosse and jazz ensemble of hand-picked professional musicians.

Zimbe and other musical inspirations from the African continent will be performed on Saturday 2nd July at St Peter’s Church, Petersfield at the slightly earlier time of 7pm. Tickets are just £15 for adults (under 12s-£5), available on Ticket Source

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