I have been performing as a back-up vocalist and clarinettist for Desert Rose since August 2009.
Desert Rose is a Cape Town based music group run by Lynne-Holmes Ganief and Yusuf Ganief that uses multifaith world music to spiritually connect people from different backgrounds. Lynne describes “The Awakening” album (which I featured on in 2009):
“To celebrate our diversity as a global humanity through music is a powerful beginning, treading a path towards religious tolerance, where devotional sounds of Hebrew and Arabic sit quite comfortably within a song, where what is perceived as an impossible ideal becomes a reality though music!”
The Desert Rose UK Tour was the group’s first trip outside of South Africa, a huge stepping stone in building an international audience. We were hosted in Oxford and performed at various places around London. The rest of the group consists of Yusuf Ganief (Arabic vocals), Lynne-Holmes Ganief (composer, keyboard), Nceba Gongxeka (vocals, African instruments), Sisonke Godlo (Jembe, percussion) and Mikhaela Holmes (vocals). Yusuf and Lynne went on to perform in Malaysia and Johannesburg as the second and third legs of the tour.
We performed as part of the ‘Listen To The World’ concert series at St Ethelburga’s, a church in the financial district of London that was destroyed by an IRA bomb in 1993 and then rebuilt as a Centre for Reconciliation and Peace. (pictures at http://www.flickr.com/photos/kmlivemusic/7560955718/, sorry don’t know how to get them off flickr)
Our second show was at the London Interfaith Centre, which was opened in 1998 to focus on action-reflection of local mixed faith living, as part of a farewell concert for it’s current Reverend.
Our next performance at a family home in Luton, a town north-west of London, was a smaller, more intimate show that attracted the local Sufi followers, as well as some South African Desert Rose fans based in London.
Our final performance, for our hosts, was at the annual Oxford Muslim Music Festival at the Jacqueline De Prez Music Hall, along with various international musicians from the Islamic world.
Being asked to tour with Desert Rose was a great honour. Not only was it an opportunity to perform on an international platform, but it was also a chance for me to explore London (just before the hype of the 2012 Olympics). In between the busy schedule of sound checks and rehearsals in Oxford, I travelled out to Surbiton where I stayed with Naomi Lynch (Northern Ireland Face to Face 2008). Naomi came to our show at St Ethelburga’s and was overjoyed to finally be able to hear the music I had been performing since we met on F2F camp, as well as visit St Ethelburga’s, a centre she had been hoping to visit before.
It was powerful to be able to share our interfaith music with an international audience, especially since it has such a unique South African flavour. I hope this tour was only the beginning of Desert Rose’s international music journey.