When choirmaster Theo Cookson hushed his singers for the first song of the evening, expectation in the cargo shed where they performed was electric. Never before had his renowned choir sang in such an unconventional venue, and little did the choirmaster realise what pleasant surprise was still in store for his choir, later that Friday evening.
The Pandula Trust, an employee contribution scheme for all companies in the Bidvest stable, enlisted the special voices of Walvis Bay's Mascato Choir for a special performance in the huge Rennies Consolidated warehouse. The choir's animated performance was a first for this building, also part of the Bidvest Group.
Voicing his fondness for his choir members when he introduced them to the audience, Cookson said most of the members are vulnerable, many coming from destitute backgrounds, "The choir provides them a safe place where they regain self-worth and confidence. Many of our former singers have gone on to become lawyers, medical doctors and even a microbiologist," he said.
The Mascato Youth Choir is world renowned and has performed in Europe and America on a number of occasions, often in competitions against some of the world best choirs. Mascato is a classical choral choir, using only percussion to augment their outstanding performances.
"In the past two decades since the choir was founded, we have had more than 9,000 children go through the choir. Even some of the faces here at Manica, were once in this choir. The young people come from all over the country often travelling as far as Windhoek, Otjiwarongo or Outjo to attend rehearsals. All our funding goes to opening doors for our members through performing in the choir," said Cookson.
On this high note, the chairperson of the Pandula Trust, Trudi van Rooyen completely bowled Cookson over when she presented him with a N$60,000 donation for the choir who never performs for compensation and depends solely on the support of the public to fund its activities.
Cookson expressed his deep-felt gratitude for the donation adding that it would go a long way in promoting the art of choral singing in Namibia and supporting youth development.
The Pandula Trust is a staff-managed charity fund that depends on small monthly contributions from employees working for any of the seventeen companies in the Bidvest stable.