FOR THE LOVE OF MUSIC
By Nadia Essop
Miss Pretty Yende won the World Opera Competition, Operalia 2011. Operalia is an annual event that attracts hundreds of hopefuls from across the world. The soprano triumphed in 3 categories! Pretty Yende is a South African – she is of Zulu ancestry.
One may wonder what the colour of her skin, her small town roots, or her cultural heritage have to do with her credibility as an opera singer. Nothing… Except perhaps, as reason to pause and reflect on our South African musical past. During Apartheid it was undoubtedly a different experience for gifted young singers, as well as for members of the audience. Continue reading
Now that the “Star”dust of our Frostiana performance is settling, and all the notes, like The Pasture”s fallen leaves, have been happily raked up, and the temperature of concert night (centigrade or fahrenheit – take your pick) has cooled down, it seems opportune in the loveliness of the afterglow, to focus appreciatively on one star in our glittering constellation that did not shine with us on stage on Tuesday night: MARGARET FOXCROFT! Continue reading
MOZART AND THE SPACES IN-BETWEEN
By Nadia Essop
Tonight was concert night, our performance ended hours ago. The music had been rehearsed and performed, the scores and instruments have been packed away, and soon the warm applause from the audience will fade into warm memory.
I remember exactly how our musical director revealed the latest challenge to the choir: ‘This is it, this is perfection!’ We would be performing Mozart’s Mass in C Minor. During the weeks of preparation that followed, our choir master used (what would become) a ubiquitous vocabulary of words and phrases, such as: out of this world, simple yet powerful, one long line, must flow, like elastic, the heartbeat, on one breath, the pulse, purity, and don’t breathe! Of these, my favourite became the spaces, space. Pencil scribbles on my music score can attest to this. I’ve come to understand that space is not the same as pause, nor linger, dawdle or stop. Space –where required, and while never letting go of the rhythm- would elevate the piece, would make it breathe and live. It was this dance between space and rhythm that enthralled me. Continue reading
I can”t quite explain it, but there always seems to be a vibe in the buzz when performers and audience start arriving for a concert that signals: We”re in for something special!
And last night in St. John”s Church, Wynberg it was just so. The concert began with Handel”s rousing Zadok the Priest, Alexander energising his musicians and singers into an immediate unity of spirit and intent, the resulting performance stunning the audinece into a burst of jubillant appreciation. Continue reading
A WORD ABOUT OUR CONDUCTOR
We members of the Symphony Choir of Cape Town have had the privilege of being under the direction of Alexander Fokkens for the past six years. During that time we have seen the maturing of a gifted young musician into a conductor of the finest calibre. His initial youthful impatience and frustration with singers, some of whom were not committed to practising their notes at home between rehearsals, or others who felt they had sung some of the works at previous concerts and therefore had no need to work afresh at the notes, I personally found understandable. It has been quite remarkable to witness and experience how the professional Alexander has faced these unneccesary time-consuming challenges, and, how he has come to handle these frustrations with a sensitivity towards the choir as a whole, is laudable. Continue reading