A recently formed youth world music band is organizing a fundraising concert so they can perform at the Vancouver World Music Festival later this month.
Zazu is a group of 11 youngsters from the Errington, Nanoose Bay and Coombs areas, ages nine to 15, who, after attending World Music Youth camps in Errington, formed a band at the end of summer, 2017.
Performing acoustic music with Zimbabwean marimbas (which are like wooden xylophones) and the samba percussion style which includes djembe drums (skin-covered drums played with the hands), the group has made their own arrangements of music, written their own songs and performed at several venues including Errington Elementary and Nanoose Bay Elementary schools.
On Friday, April 13, the group is holding its own stand-alone concert to raise money to play at the Vancouver World Music Festival on Sunday, April 29.
“It’s 100 per cent them,” said Fahlon Smith, music instructor for the Errington World Music Camp who, together with other organizers and instructors, got the youth group started. But she said she’s been amazed at how much creativity and self-sufficiency has come out of the young group, with this upcoming fundraiser being one example.
“They made the poster, they are running the concession, they have organized all the logistics, they’ve put together the program, they will be stage-managing and all of the little bits. So it’s not just about the music. They are really, really expanding their skill set,” Smith said.
Jenna Chomolok (12-year-old from Errington) and Peter Kurelja (15-year-old from Nanoose Bay) are both members of Zazu. They said one of the fun aspects of the group is using not just the marimba, but playing a variety of instruments, and even introducing dance elements to their performances.
“It’s really fun,” said Chomolok.
But performing as a group didn’t start off easy, said Kurelja. The key was being able to play your part while listening to everyone else as well.
“We kind of learned to close our eyes and listen to everybody else around us,” he said. “It’s like rubbing your belly and patting your head at the same time.”
That same ability to multi-task pays off in learning how to arrange a concert and run a fundraiser, which is part of the learning experience, said Smith.
Asked why they like playing this style of music with marimbas, Chomolok said she describes the instrument to her friends as being like “a wooden piano, but it sounds better.”
Kurelja said that, though marimbas are considered a percussion instrument, it sounds different, too.
“You can’t really explain why music sounds good. It’s like, ‘Why do you love people?’” he said.
As for the upcoming fundraiser concert and performance in Vancouver, Kurelja said he’s nervous, but that can help focus the band to practice even harder. Chomolok said she’s excited for it.
Zazu plays at Errington hall (1390 Errington Rd.) on Friday, April 13 with the performance running from 7-9 p.m. Admission is by donation.
The money raised will go toward transportation, costumes and other costs associated with performing at the Vancouver World Music Festival on April 29, said Smith.
For that mainland festival, and another world music festival on the Island, Zazu expects to perform with the East Van Marimba Allstars — another youth group that plays in a similar style.