I’m freshly back from Pantin, France, where I participated in a French/South African music exchange, called BIG TIME!.  BIG TIME! is a 17-piece orchestra, a cross-cultural, Euro-Afrique project linking the best French and young South African musical talent. The massive project was conceived by French composer and multi-instrumentalist, Braka.

Last year during French Season in South Africa, we toured to the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown and performed in Cape Town and PE. This year the South African Season in France kicked off at the Banlieues Bleues Festival, just outside Paris.

One of the best memories of the week was rehearsing, performing and listening to music with a group of young and professional musicians. Five of the orchestra’s members play in Klopse bands in Cape Town, and the end of every rehearsal was marked by good ol’ marching band tunes. We all joined in and let off some steam.

Another great memory, of course, was the food. We stayed outside of Paris, in a district called Pantin, bustling with every nationality you could think of – I ate the most amazing Lebanese, Chinese and Nigerian food. Nonetheless, when in France… we had croissants every day without fail. Here’s a little video I shot of my friends and fellow musicians’ take on the food in France for laughs. Thanks again to Braka and Banlieues Bleues for the super adventure!


Jade De Waal