On the 14th November, we were shocked and saddened by the loss of Net vir Pret’s beloved music teacher and the parade musical co-director since 2013, Gari Crawford.
Just two weeks after completing the final production on the long awaited music album Celebration: 10 Years of the Barrydale Puppet Parade, Gari passed away at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town. The album contains 16 tracks and is a joyful collection of the best songs written over the years of the parade, created by Crawford with his closest students and band members Dylan Hess, Willem Esau, Josh Louw, Wallen Klaassens, with vocals by Elton Esau, Elzaan Fuchs, Adelee Willemse, David Kees, staff and interns from Net vir Pret as well as featuring traditional Rieel musician and composer Peter Takelo and hip hop artist Selanvor Platjies.
Gari had performed and taught music for over thirty years. He studied music at Wits University Johannesburg, majoring in guitar, with piano as his second instrument. After University he spent a number of years performing and teaching in the UK before returning to South Africa in 1996. Gari taught guitar and ensemble work at a number of schools in the Western Cape including Zerilda Park Primary and the Zerilda Park Jazz Band who performed at prestigious venues across the Cape.
In 2013 Gari relocated to Suurbraak with his wife Lizzie and began his work with Net vir Pret as well as starting a band with his close students Dylan Hess, William Esau and Brandon Dyanti who played and toured to venues all over the Tradouw and R62. During this time Crawford also performed in various gigs with international artists such as German musician and trumpeter Klaus-Werner Pusch at venues such as the Karoo Art Hotel. Crawford’s band with his students, began to compose and perform the original music for the Barrydale Giant Puppet Parade, created in partnership between the Handspring Puppet Trust, The Centre for Humanities Research at the University of the Western Cape and Net vir Pret.
Gari was the musical co-director of the parade between 2013 and 2020 composing songs for some of the most memorable performances such as Olifantland, Renosterbos, The Final Spring and River and Redfin which performed at the Assitej International Cradle of Creativity at the Baxter Theatre in 2019. In the 2007 book ‘Unsung: South African Jazz Musicians under Apartheid’ edited by Chatradari Devroop and Chris Walton, Gari Crawford is acknowledged as ‘a jazz musician with a great knowledge of his field’ who assisted in conducting critical interviews for this historical book on South African Jazz.
All of our love and condolences to Gari’s wife Lizzie, his sister Athalie and his family and friends, as well as all his students that he loved and supported so very much. Rest in Peace