YAC Trip Notes:
Power of Song Tour

By Griff Resor
Originally written: July 18, 2007
Published to website: February 19, 2008

Our Y'62 Choral Contingent in South Africa, complete with face paint.
L-R: John Knutson, John Gerlach, Murray Wheeler, Biggie Moore, Griff Resor. Photo: Judy Knutson

Pam and I have enjoyed three Yale Alumni Chorus (YAC) trips: Yale's 300th celebration trip to Russia & Wales, the 2004 trip to South America and this year's trip to South Africa. This trip was called "The Power of Song." Until you experience the bond that instantly forms when singers join voices together, you can't really grasp how appropriate this name is. Part of YAC's mission is to support fellow singers and musicians. In South Africa we found many good singers and musicians.

Singing with a township chorus. Photo: Biggie Moore

It is a miracle that South Africa made a peaceful transition to majority control of its government. South Africa's 1996 Constitution sets high goals for the country's new social order. We were impressed to see everyone working hard in this "Rainbow Nation" to make it happen. I am sure many on this YAC trip returned with a new commitment to help this grand experiment in Democracy.

We began our journey at Kapama River Lodge, a very large private game park next to Kruger National Park. The River Lodge is only 2 years old. So YAC provided first class accommodations in a very wild place. Local guides drove us out at dawn and at dusk to see the animals when they are most active. We were able to get close to lions, elephants, hippos, rhinoceroses, giraffes, buffalo, crocodiles, and many smaller animals. On our second evening's drive we started singing one of the African songs learned for this trip. Our guides were thrilled. Soon we were all singing together. They insisted we sing as we drove back into the lodge compound. From that moment on, each night at dinner the lodge staff joined us in song and helped us learn more South African songs and their national anthem. Their national anthem has four verses, each one in a different language. It was great fun, and good to confirm that old brains can still learn new songs.

Murray in face paint
Murray in face paint
Back in Johannesburg we got into the serious work of rehearsing and performing Hayden's Creation Mass. Several outreach activities were woven into the schedule. We went to Pretoria for a concert with local choirs to benefit an all blind choir. YAC sang along with four other local groups. This was a great afternoon. Again we found many good singers and experienced the power of song.

On most of the YAC trips one concert stands out as the best moment. But on this trip I find it hard to choose. Our final concert in Cape Town to benefit the Simon Estes Music High School was a lot of fun. But our visits to the Ubuntu Education Fund and the concert in Port Elizabeth to benefit the Ubuntu Education Fund will be my pick. When we arrived in Port Elizabeth we were bussed out to the Ubuntu site in a local shanty town. This NGO was founded 9 years ago. Already they provide medical services and education to 40,000 local residents. They have a good process of identifying local needs and then finding the funds and skilled people to meet these needs. We held a benefit concert in the Feather Market, where ostrich feathers for ladies' hats used to be sold. This is now a concert hall. Several local choirs participated. Soon the hall was rocking. We feared that their acts would be hard to match when we finally went on stage. But they loved us, too. And when all the choirs joined in singing Bawo and then the National Anthem, the audience went wild.

Those of us from the Class of '62 who have done several YAC trips would like to see more of you who sang at Yale on future YAC trips.

Griff's email address is gresor@aol.com

Mike Moore's reflections on the Power of Song Tour.

Return to Yale College Class of '62 Home