Bands Crossing Borders - South African musicians in Norway
Toneheim has close links to South Africa thanks to an exchange programme called Bands Crossing Borders that is financed by Fredskorpset (FK Norway). Fredskorpset (FK Norway)Foundation and The Norwegian Band Federation (NMF) have been partners since 2001 and every year, around five South African youngsters from the Field Band move to Norway to stay at Toneheim and share experiences with young, Norwegian musicians. Toneheim Folk High School’s primary emphasis is music and students are enrolled yearly on the basis of their main instrument. The school has 150 students, who all attend a one-year-course from August to May.
The annual performance, which is set up and performed by all of the school’s students, is the highlight at Toneheim every year. Ambassador Sisulu attended the performance to give her support to the five South African exchange students. She was very impressed by all the 25 performances featuring everything from jazz ensembles, free ensembles and elements of pop music to brass bands, big bands, a choir and piano.
The South African students had clearly brought a true South African flavor to the performance: Toneheim’s Principal John Krognes explains: “The learning-curve is enormous. The South African musicians share their songs, rhythms and dances with the other students. They teach the Norwegians how to move whilst playing their instruments. There has been a fantastic development on this project that is being funded by FK Norway.”
Mr Krognes says that many of the South African musicians come back to study in Norway after their year at Toneheim. During their stay in Norway, the South African students also travel around Norway visiting school bands. Each year, Norwegian musicians from the Norwegian Band Federation also travel to South Africa to educate and learn from the Field Band Foundation. “This is an inspiring and successful project that I have a lot of faith in. I hope that the exchange programme will continue to flourish in years to come so that both Norwegian and South African students can learn and share experiences with each other,” says Ambassador Sisulu.