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Posted on 25 March 2019

UK school pupils can take part in a unique music and drama experience which comes straight from the townships of South Africa in a half-day trip to Buxton’s historic Opera House — with the option of extending to a full day excursion  going underground in one of Britain’s most spectacular show caves.

The Orphans of Koombu, which will see its British premiere as part of Buxton International Festival in July 2019, was written to bridge the divide between the poorest and better-off children in South Africa. It was so successful that the show has been performed right across the continent from The Cape to Ghana.

The Festival has designed a fun educational programme which gives the children an insight into a professional musical production — as well as the chance to learn how to sing in one.

It is offering a pre-show talk by a theatre professional about the show’s aims combined with a quick and easy introduction to choral singing, led by some of the young musical stars of the future who are taking part in the main Festival events. 

The Orphans of Koombu, written by the Festival’s Chief Executive Michael Williams when he was head of Capetown Opera, is a musical scored for piano and percussion, eight singers and a chorus of between 30 and 40 young people from schools in Derbyshire. The story is about orphans excluded from the wealthy town of Koombu.

Township communities turned out in droves to see their young people performing and rejoiced at their inclusion.

The full-day option includes a guided tour of Poole’s Cavern, a natural limestone cave containing a geological record going back millions of years which was once home to a notorious bandit. Despite going deep into the hillside, the skilfully illuminated Cavern’s main chamber is wheelchair accessible without assistance, and a tour will cover history, geology and archaeology.

Dates: 12 July, 13 July, 15 July, 16 July, 17 July, 19 July and 20 July 2019.

Half-day package:

Arrive at 9.30am at the magnificent Buxton Opera House, an Edwardian theatre created by the architect who designed The London Palladium and The Blackpool Tower Ballroom. There will be a 20 minute introduction to the show, including a fun singing exercise to learn the show’s chorus and sing it as a round.

10. 30am: You will watch the show, which will last 75 minutes.

Prices: Koombu only: £5 per pupil, £10 per adult.

Full day package:

As above until 12.30pm: you will arrive at Poole’s Cavern (a five minute drive away). Groups of more than 20 can be split into two. One will tour the cave for 40 minutes with a guide trained for educational groups, while the other takes part in fun activities in the protected woodland surrounding the cave.

1.10pm: groups swap over.

2.30pm: you will depart after a chance to visit the Cavern shop and café.

Prices: Koombu and Poole’s Cavern: £9.50 per pupil (five to 16 years); £13.50 per adult; £12.75 students and Old Age Pensioners. 

To book, or for more details, contact John Phillips;

tel: 01298 70395

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