Concert brings Africa to the Highlands
By Darren Lum
Published April 12, 2016
West Africa is coming to Haliburton later this month through the words, the rhythmic steps and evocative songs from bilingual entertainer Fana Soro.
Soro will share the culture of his Senoufo tribe from the French speaking northern Ivory Coast.
He spent nine years as a principal dancer with the Ballet National de Cote d’Ivoire before he started as a touring performer. He is an accomplished balafon – West African wooden xylophone – player and performs traditional West African dance.
Soro will be performing in French and English during a by-donation public concert at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26 at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion in Haliburton.
Organized by the Canadian Parents for French (CPF), this family-friendly concert shows how French is a global language its chairperson Nancy Ballantyne said.
She adds this showcase of Soro’s talents will provide a new perspective for this community.
“It helps with the cultural development of kids and also to know the more languages you know, the more opportunities you have to do different things. It’s not just English performers [out there],” she said.
“Also, that music is universal so language doesn’t necessarily have to be a barrier and it can be an asset if you know more about the culture. You get more out of music once you know the background.”
Organizers recommend people get their tickets with a donation for the performance before the concert. Proceeds from donations will go to augmenting the cost of French activities for all county students.
Get tickets in Haliburton at Cranberry Cottage and J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School, and in Minden get them at Pharmasave or at Archie Stouffer Elementary School.
The idea to bring Soro came from positive feedback from students and teachers who were impressed by his performance when they attended the weeklong overnight Trillium Lakelands Art Camp held last spring at Camp White Pine.
Local student Maya Meraw described him as “energetic and entertaining.”
“He is also very engaging. I believe he reinforces the idea that learning French isn’t just for the classroom, it can cross borders and is a skill for the real world,” she wrote in an email.
There will be a CPF baked goods fundraiser with proceeds going towards a Quebec trip in June for local high school students. Local accommodator, Heather Lodge, is donating two nights of accommodation and breakfast to the performer for this effort, which helps to offset the cost.
This concert is sponsored by Canadian Parents for French (Haliburton chapter) and the Haliburton Highlands Secondary School, which booked the theatre.
While here Soro is also holding concerts for students in Minden at Archie Stouffer Elementary School and in Haliburton at the J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School, including workshops with students at HHSS.
CPF is a group of community members and parents who work to enhance French language experiences for all students in Haliburton County.