About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

15 February 2012

Presenting the Buskaid Academy

Another addition to the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival this year was the Buskaid Ensemble, playing a concert in the wonderful Villa Arcadia. The mansion was once the home of a mining magnate (in the early 1900's), and then an orphanage (probably the most scenic orphanage around) and now part of Hollard's corporate campus (the story can be found here). The views are absolutely stunning, and the gardens have been well maintained - we even spotted an owl in the gardens!

But the highlight was the Buskaid. Once again, they played a brilliant mix of classical, contemporary and the traditional; and once again their choice of classical music makes them stand out from other classical ensembles. The entire classical set was the music of Le Chevalier de Saint-George - the black Mozart (and a contemporary of Mozart).

The evening started off with a movement from his Symphony No 2, followed by a selection of musical pieces from his ballet, L’amant anonyme. One of the great things about Rosemary Nalden, the Buskaid founder, is her passion to talk about the music instead of just performing it. So, after the ballet piece, we got a short talk on the different styles of performing string music (and how it has changed over the course of time) including the influence of equipment (such as the bows) and also how different the sound is from the different playing styles.

An alumnus, Kabelo Motlhomi (who went on to study music in the UK) was the soloist, in Chevalier de Saint-George's first violin concerto. Chevalier de Saint-George was himself a flamboyant violin player; and Kabelo's performance was brilliant; thoroughly deserving the rousing applause at the end of his performance.

In "celebration" of Valentine's Day, the rest of the concert was lighter, romantic songs with some Buskaid members singing. Before the start of the lighter stuff, Rosemary made the comment that it has been 15 years since the Buskaid formally started as a music school in Soweto. The 15 years has been remarkably successful, in producing great musicians. So, she feels that the Buskaid should no longer be a project - but an academy for string music and performance art. It is the closest thing South Africa has to the El Sistema - and I wish the Buskaid Academy all the best! And I will continue to go to Buskaid concerts whenever I can ... they are truly one of the best musical ensembles in South Africa.

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