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15 juillet 2008

Getting into the rhythm of things

By Tina Robins, Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard

The rhythms of Africa have been wending their way through Malmesbury and the villages ahead of WOMAD. Children from local schools have spent the week working with Zimbabwean group SIYAYA in preparation for a concert in the Abbey on the eve of this year's festival at Charlton Park. The group was brought over by artist and former head teacher James York Moore who met them while he was running a workshop for WOMAD in Spain earlier this year.

Chairman of the governors at Malmesbury School Deborah Gray said: "James has worked really hard on this project not just with the co-ordination between the primary and secondary schools and WOMAD, but in writing grant applications to try and fund the visit too." She explained: , "I think the project is of great cultural value to the young people who will see SIYAYA perform and work with them in the various schools, as well as those lucky students who get the opportunity to perform at WOMAD itself."

The first stop on the tour was Malmesbury Primary School followed by St Josephs, Lea and Garsdon, Minety, Brinkworth Earl Danby's and Oaksey. The group is due to spend Friday with students at the high school. Mrs Gray, who watched the musicians on Monday morning said: SIYAYA were captivating in the assembly a whole room full of transfixed young faces. "The session with their Womad choir went really well too. The kids have such energy and enthusiasm in their singing and SIYAYA were really encouraging helping them perfect the African rhythms and movements.

The group's visit has been supported by the school as part of its specialist performing arts college programme. Malmesbury Carnival has also chipped in with a donation of £1,000. The concert in the abbey is at 7pm on July 21. The schoolchildren are also expected to perform in the festival itself, which runs from July 25 to 27.

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