SITALI, THE COMPOSER
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Sitali Sitali was one of the first students at
The Choma Academy of Music. He was introduced
to our Academy in 2009 just as it was starting.
Sitali told us that he’d always wanted to play
the trombone, even though he’d never
actually held one.
“When I was [living] in Lusaka, I was very much interested, and I didn’t know where I could find an instrument like the trombone. But when I came to Choma, I had the opportunity of meeting someone who could give me a trombone. That’s when someone saw some talent in me playing piano, and gave me that interest, and said I can do it.”
Sitali was taught the piano,
and, yes, the trombone, too.
He eventually added cello,
and studied the teachers at the
academy as they conducted.
So Sitali learned to conduct,
and then he learned to write.
He went on to become a
piano teacher at The Choma
Academy of Music, and he’s
taught himself to compose by
listening to the masters, like
Bach, Brahms, and his favorite,
“I like the Messiah, it talks
about the death of Christ,
His suffering and the birth.
I like the melody, the harmony,
even the words, it’s really good.”
The piece he played for us was one he’d written—and arranged for orchestra—in just three days.
This young man is a testament to the power of music and to the life breathed by the academy. As Sitali learned music, he learned character. Now, as a teacher, he implements the same things.
“In music, when you practice hard things,” he said, “that’s when you become better. If you practice hard things, there will still be harder things to come. And those hard things you chose to practice previously, you’ll find are simple. So as you go on, you discover that you’re progressing, you’re discovering new things.”
Therein lies the magic of the academy. Sitali voiced,
“At the academy, we are learning new things;
it is helping us to do new things. It is also
helping us to know new people and share new ideas.”
While the youth of Zambia are often lured into destructive activities and cycles of hopelessness, music offers an alternate path and a space to dream.
Sitali plans to spend another
year teaching at The Choma
Academy of Music before
heading to university, which
is an extraordinary feat for
a young Zambian man.
To keep studying music
and someday teach
as a professor.
The Artisans understand that art is like oxygen for the creative spirit, and that the arts can awaken and unlock the soul like nothing else.