On November 27, the 20th-anniversary event was held. Distinguished guests and the honored alumni from Bands Crossing Borders (BCB) and PULSE gathered to reminisce, catch up and meet old friends. With the even being streamed in both Norway and South Africa, to each other gathering, we all got to see familiar faces of friends and colleagues.
The planning and nitty-gritty of this event have been going on for a while now, and on Friday 26, the PULSE north team met up to finalize the plans and go over the program. For some, Ingrid and Nicholas, it was the first time they met in person, marking that day as a special one as well.
Saturday started early with meeting up at the event venue, Kulturhuset, where a room had been booked for most of the day. Before the alumni arrived to practice the music they were playing during the live stream of the event, time was spent decorating the room.
The PULSE north team, with the help of Rune Hannisdal and Birgitte Grong, blew up balloons, hung up lines of lights, decorated them with Flags, banners, and confetti. Also present was not one, but two Gira figures, one cannot have an event like this and not include our beloved Gira.
Even dressed in their Bunad, the Norwegian national costume, Rune and Birgitte climbed ladders and stood on benches and tables to help hang up the different decorations.
After a few hours of decorating, the alumni started showing up, meeting a few hours before the event started to learn the music and basic choreography. The alumni chatted and mingled, catching up with old friends and making new ones. Since all of them have been a part of the exchange program, they all had something to talk about. Similar or different experiences, working with the same bands, training with the same people. The time was not spent practicing was almost exclusively used to talk and listen about each other’s experiences.
Thulani Maluleka was the man in charge of the music during the event, and what energy that man brings! His energy and love for music rubbed off on anyone near him, and it showed in the alumni, who seemed to have a great time during the practice, as the laughter sat quite loose as they played, sang, and danced.
Not long before the event was scheduled to start, the most prominent guest arrived. The South African Ambassador to Norway, the distinguished Ms. Selaelo Ramokgopa.
Her retinue and herself were met by Rune and Birgitte, who greeted them and told them about what to expect from the event, before walking her to her front-row seat. When the event began, everyone present in the room had their eyes on the stage, where the live stream from the event in Johannesburg went live.
It was wonderful seeing the alumni react to seeing old friends again; everyone smiled and pointed out when they recognized those they had worked with, a long time ago, or more recently for some. Field Band Foundation put on a marvelous show, with great speeches and even better music. After their live stream ended, it was only a matter of minutes before the NMF and PULSE stream in Norway began. It was not hard to tell the excitement in the room rising as everyone prepared to go give their speeches or put on a stage show.
The ambassador herself even came on stage and gave a great speech about her excitement for the PULSE program. She gave thanks to everyone for a wonderful evening and congratulated and applaud the long history of the partnership between NMF and FBF, 20 years, it is no small thing.
As the event drew to a close, it was time for the big reveal, The Impact Exhibition. This is a collaborative work from NMF and FBF, created by Boiler Room, and is a digital museum of sorts.
In it, you can find the history and impact of the BCB/PULSE program, with text plaques, videos, pictures, and musical arrangements. It is the collective history from the start of the program and up until the present, starting all the way back in 2001. You can find pictures of all the alumni and you can explore the different rooms it offers. In total, it has currently 113 items you can interact with, it is a repository of knowledge and memories. You can find information about the participants, about Gira, you can read academic papers linked to music and the exchange program or you can relax and go to the listening booth, where musical arrangements from both countries are present.
Before you start*
- It can take some time to load, several minutes possibly, have patience and it will load.
- It does not work on phones
- Use WASD to move around, just like in a game. W-forward, A-left, D-right, S-backwards
- Press space to mute the music, press it again to start it over again.
- Use the mouse to look around and the left mouse button to interact with the items you want to.
Follow this link to enter the Impact exhibition and explore it on your own.
In South Africa, the celebrations began on Friday the 26th with BCB and PULSE alumni preparing for the main event. They had a practice session whereby they played three South African traditional songs(Ubuhle bendoda, ziyawa and Stamp) and Ukhamba, which is an original composition written by Ndabo Zulu(BCB and PULSE alumni) and Magnus Murphy Joelson from Norway. Later that evening the alumni gathered for dinner and shared wonderful memories from the exchange program and Field Band Foundation.
On Saturday the main event started with the preparation for the digital live streaming. Soundcheck, visuals, and music were practiced. When the time arrived, streaming began in South Africa. The program was filled with speeches and musical items from the alumni and distinguished guests. The event opened with a speech from Nicky du Plessis(FBF CEO), welcoming everyone who has attended this auspicious and historical event. The main song of the day(Ukhamba) was presented and conducted by Ndabo Zulu. Before rendering the piece Ndabo gave a speech about his experience being in the BCB and PULSE exchange program and talked about how this program has helped to shape his life.
Here is a YouTube link to the alumni video practicing for the event.
After Ukhamba was played, Thuli Mpse ( FBF chairperson) did a speech, thanking the support that is given to this exchange program and wishing NMF and FBF on this partnership. Nicky, Eva, and Thuli popped the balloons which were filled with confetti in celebrating this remarkable event. The master of ceremony thanked everyone in Norway for watching the streaming and a few moments later audients from South Africa were enjoying the festivities broadcasted live from Oslo, Norway.
After the streaming took place, FBF continued the festivities with the tribal council. The FBF project leaders from all regions did presentations about their regions and lit the touches that symbolized hope and prosperity in their respected communities. Project leaders read messages from their different stakeholders and staff members. A lovely performance was rendered by the FBF staff entertaining the guests who attended the event. It was followed by an award ceremony whereby individuals and groups who did well during this year were awarded different prizes and acknowledgments.
Authors: Nicholas Bahrawy and Jacob Mhlapeng
Pictures: Nomkhosi Mnisi, Nicholas Bahrawy and Merethe Flaate