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Release: Immediate


Photo opportunities available: the Simon Estes South African Choral Group

3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8 at University of Iowa Burge Residence Hall

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- The media will have an opportunity to meet with members of the Simon Estes' South African Choral Group from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8 when they arrive at the UI's Burge Residence Hall, located near the corner of Clinton and Bloomington Streets. Phillip Jones, dean of UI student services, will be joined by UI students from Burge Residence Hall when he welcomes the Choral Group to the UI.

The Simon Estes South African Choral Group will perform at Carver Hawkeye Arena, Monday, Feb. 8, just prior to Archbishop Desmond Tutu's lecture there at 8 p.m.

The 47-member high school student group from Cape Town, South Africa, is part of the pre-lecture events that include a solo performance by Simon Estes, the accomplished opera performer and UI alumnus.

Estes was impressed with the youth chorus when he visited their Cape Town area high school. The poor conditions at the 4,000-student facility that had only 60 teachers was troubling to Estes, and in 1997 he founded the Simon Estes School in Des Moines for 150 black South African students.

"The project will greatly advance the education of the South African youngsters and expand their realization of their musical talents and intellectual potential," Estes said in a press release.

"It will also deepen the understanding of predominantly white Iowans of these and other black South Africans and enhance the awareness of their needs, interests and culture," he said in the release.

At least two of the original members will attend one of 15 Des Moines area high schools for the 1998-99 academic school year. The schools include Des Moines Christian, Hoover, Lincoln, and Roosevelt in Des Moines; Dowling and Valley High Schools in West Des Moines; Johnston, Urbandale, Adel-Desoto, Ankeny, Dallas Center-Grimes, Gilbert Community School, Indianola, and Waukee.

A major portion of the costs to sponsor the Choral Group have come from contributions, and while in the United States, the students live with host families in the Des Moines area. While in Iowa City, the students will stay with host families who are members of the Iowa City Rotary, the Iowa City Noon Rotary and the Iowa City A.M. Rotary clubs, says Steven Laughlin, president of the Rotary Club of Coralville-North Corridor.