A FORMER professional cricketer for Zimbabwe joined the Aliquando Choir for a charity concert in Henley.
Henry Olonga, who played Test cricket for Zimbabwe and domestic first-class cricket in Zimbabwe for Mashonaland and Manicaland, performed with the choir at Christ Church in Reading Road.
The tenor gained international recognition in 2003 when he wore a black armband during a Cricket World Cup match to protest against the policies of Zimbabwe’s government, led by Robert Mugabe.
This forced him to retire from international cricket and go into temporary hiding after a warrant was issued for his arrest on charges of treason.
Olonga, now a cricket commentator and singer, joined special guests Anne Fairbrother, the Quire of Friends and Dan Evans to perform with the choir.
Anne Evans, musical director, said: “It was absolutely fantastic. We had a big and very enthusiastic audience who said they loved the music and how there was something for everyone in the programme. The first half was more classical and the second half was much lighter with songs from Les Misérables.”
The choir sang In Haven and Where Corals Lie by Elgar. This was followed by music by Lauridsen, Hawes, Gershwin and Eric Whitacre, among others. Pianist Anita D’Attellis was the accompanist.
Olonga sang Do You Hear the People Sing, and Empty Chairs and Empty Tables.
Mrs Evans said: “Henry Olonga gave a very good talk to the audience about how he has moved from a career in cricket to singing. He had some quite comical stories. We also had a wonderful duet by Ciara and Aoife who really brought the house down.”
The concert ended with a performance by three dancers from the Flame Lily Arts Performing Group and a collection of African songs sung by Olonga and the Quire of Friends.
Money raised at the event will be donated to the Jacaranda Trust, a charity based near Henley which raises money for four trusts in Zimbabwe.