Sowing Seeds – A Feature On Shaun Islip
September 6, 2012
I love stories. I believe in the idea of stories being able to show us what it means to be human. One person’s story can be unique and very different from our own and yet its deeper meanings we know and feel in our bones. I think that is universally true; we can all understand another’s personal experience in some important and mutually enriching way. Shaun Islip, our fearless choirmaster, participates in an interview.
Miriam: We probably all have little stories that family or friends like to trot out and tell about us. Sometimes they capture something about our true character that was clearly evident at an early age. Do you have a story like that?
Shaun: Not exactly but there’s a recent experience I’ve had that I think is that kind of a story. When I was 8 or 9, my mum enrolled me in a church choir, in Durban, South Africa. The choirmaster introduced us to all kinds of beautiful religious works and I built up a huge background that embedded itself through music. It wasn’t until my late 20s that my faith firmed but looking back now, I see that the seeds had been sown at an early age. I didn’t stay in contact with the choirmaster but just a few weeks ago, I went to tea at the home of a cellist I have come to know. She is from South Africa and I told her about seeds being sown through my choir experience and she talked about her dad and his church, St Paul’s in Durban. It turned out that her dad and my choirmaster were one and the same. I realised I was carrying the mantle and it was now me who was sowing seeds. It was confirmation and affirmation of who I am and my mission.
Miriam: When did you know that music was going to be something of defining importance to you and what form did that realisation take?
Shaun: Music has always been a big part of my life. It is a precious gift that I never take for granted. I have experienced and observe daily its power to unite, to uplift, to bring joy, inspiration, healing and hope. It is such a privilege to help others discover and enjoy this amazing gift for themselves.
Miriam: What would be one of your favourite sayings? Does it influence how you face challenges?
Shaun: It would be a saying by a Christian martyr who reached out to a tribe and who ultimately was killed by that tribe. He said, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose.” This is about the promise of Eternal Life, in the face of all the questions for which mankind has no answer. These words are a source of strength and reassurance; they reaffirm where I am going so I can help others through encouragement, inspiration and care. I am sowing seeds of hope in the footsteps of my choirmaster, Errol Slatter.
Written by Miriam Potter, and thank you to Shaun Islip.