When I was in high school I was in both the regular choir and the rather more ritzy “vocal ensemble.” We performed the above – amazing (skip forward to 1:16 for the real beginning) – song, “Siyahamba” at the millennium mass in Calgary. Our choir teacher’s name was Mrs. Gunther and she was a lovely woman who died a few years ago after getting hit by a car.
Actually, I didn’t hear the song again until it was performed at her funeral – which happened to be my first. It’s such a lovely song and was genuinely touching at her funeral. Also, it just kept going. The music would fade out but no one wanted to stop so it just sort of took on a life of it’s own. It was one of those rare sad/hopeful moments that are impossible to plan but life-affirming to experience. Needless to say it wasn’t quite as joyous as in the above video but touching nonetheless.
In actual fact, both music teachers who served during my tenure at St. Mary’s High School have since passed away. The band teacher M. Barrette died almost exactly a year after Mrs. Gunther.
While I was never a band student I will always fondly remember M. Barrette as he was my French teacher and mistakenly – but ego boostingly – thought that I had been in French immersion because of my flawless pronunciation. Also he was one of the first gay people that I remember having known. Being a Catholic school I’m pretty sure he was rather quiet about it but there was – as there always is – talk about his sexuality.
The point of this post was actually supposed to be how much I still love Siyahamba after recently rediscovering it but I am also reminded of a rather unfortunate detail that kept surfacing in news articles about the death of Mrs. Gunther, my aforementioned choir teacher. The car that killed Mrs. Gunther was, in fact, a Smart car and I swear to you that not a single newspaper article left this detail out. Like if someone was hit by a Ford Fiesta, this detail would not make the paper but somehow the Smart car kept getting mentioned and I always thought it added an unfortunately humourous slant to the news coverage that I never appreciated.