Upendo UK tour blog
The group are about to set off for Germany where they have 45 concerts planned.
We're thrilled that the tour has been such a resounding success and it's thanks to many people who have given generously of their time and resources.
It's not all over yet, as Upendo record a demo CD at St Hilda's, Ashford with the help of Ishirini's own recording engineer and producer, Peter Newble and Rachel Smith.
We drop Upendo off at the station to catch an early train to London, where they will sing for services in Hackney and St Anne and St Agnes, Gresham Street.
It's with sadness that we wave this wonderful group farewell. It's been a huge privilege to work with them. They have brought great joy to their UK audiences and schools.
Day of Hamba Lulu
We spend the morning rehearsing. It's a novelty for Upendo to see a programme put together so close to the actual concert. After a quick pub lunch together, we're back at St Andrew's for the evening concert.
Once again, Upendo works the audience up to a frenzy. The audience dance and wave their arms to Bam Bam in a rare feeling of collective joy. The audience are buzzing with enthusiasm and praise for the evening. Ishirini and Upendo are a stunning and powerful combination.
A day with Queens'
The whole of today was given over to a schools' workshop in Queens' College Cambridge.
Sing, sing, sing
By now we are used to the electrifying effect of Upendo's performances... and yet each day of the tour is special.
Upendo's Cambridge leg starts with a bang...
..in the stunning grounds of the Old Vicarage in Grantchester. Upendo were the stars of the show in An Evening of African Music, and, as hoped, had yet another audience throwing off their English reserve and jumping to their feet to dance.
A packed day of workshops at City of London School for Girls, led by Una Murphy, member of Ishirini. The girls were exceptionally well behaved and sang beautifully. All desperate for the chance to play Upendo's drums, the hands shot up to answer quiz questions about Tanzania. In an inspired moment of spontaneity Joshua offered a prize of an Upendo CD to the best dancer, and then the girls finally let their hair down!
Upendo head to London for a day at St Anne and St Agnes, Gresham Street. In the morning, singing for a traditional Lutheran service with improvised chorale preludes on the organ and an exotic mix of foreign visitors to the city from Lutheran congregations around the world. In the afternoon Upendo sang for an appreciative and packed Tanzanian congregation who joined in the singing and dancing enthusiastically in an improvised 3 hour Swahili service followed by a shared meal. There was a feeling that this is what everyone in the congregation had been waiting for, and now Upendo have arrived they were going to make the most of the opportunity.
Upendo to London
Upendo head to London for a welcome break after all their efforts in Lichfield.
Zimbe! a great success
Another packed day getting the 300 plus performers together in Birmingham Town Hall. The concert, made up of performances by children's choirs, jazz band and Upendo followed by the massed forces and members of Ishirini singing Alexander L'Estrange's Zimbe! was a great success, resulting in a large number of CD sales for Upendo. The highlight of the evening for the composer was the Alleluia, including solos by Upendo and Ishirini and featuring a star performance by Jacob Rouse.
Packed day in and around Lichfield
From a workshop with Great Barr secondary school, to a workshop with Greenholm primary school, to a rehearsal of Zimbe with the Palace Singers and finishing with a song of thanks in the Allwoods' garden Upendo got everyone singing, dancing and full of joy. Since their arrival, unfortunately delayed, Upendo have also seen a cathedral evensong, a choristers' rehearsal and enjoyed fantastic hospitality from their wonderful hosts in Lichfield. Great day!
Upendo due to arrive in the UK
Upendo are due to arrive in the UK tomorrow, the 30th of June. They will be driven straight to Lichfield for workshops with local primary schools.