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).

24 August 2014

Buskaid Community Concert

Every year, Buskaid hosts a community concert at the Dutch Church in Diepkloof, 2/3 weeks before their annual concert at the Linder Auditorium. As I can't make it to this year's concert; I decided to go to the community concert instead. The program is the same; but the atmosphere is remarkably different. Unlike the Linder, the audience is far younger - with a lot of young kids; even babies. In fact, it was quite amusing to hear a few of them hum the recently played tunes during the interval, or to see them mime conducting together with the music. Unlike previous concerts, this year's program features complete pieces - which I think is a good move.

In keeping with Buskaid's tradition of playing lesser known composers, the concert started with Georg Muffat’s Passacaglia - a baroque piece from the 1680s. On YouTube, it seems that the piece is mostly played as an organ piece - and perhaps the richness of the sound is lost when converted to a string orchestra. Perhaps, it is also because the music seems to be background church music - something quite appropriate for the venue; but without the cavernous cathedral, it just didn't seem to fit.

Keeping with the time period, but a far better known composer, the following piece was JS Bach's Concerto in D Minor for Two Violins; except it was played with six soloists (two per movement). Buskaid performed this piece (with the same configuration) at the beginning of the year, and was once again a great performance. 

Completely different in mood, and somewhat appropriate given global events, was Elgar's Sospiri - composed 100 years ago at the start of World War 1. The piece featured a harp played by a young harpist, Jude van der Walt, and the intro is absolutely amazing. It is a somber piece, but the performance was quite magical - and received an enthusiastic applause.

The first half concluded, with a piece written for the Buskaid - Sancho’s Dance Suite by Julian Grant, who arranged a set of dance pieces by Ignatius Sancho - who is quite an interesting person in his own right. The music itself is contemporary of the period, although the start of the piece is quite interesting (and rough) - and it ends in quite a joyous note. I don't know whether the piece is meant to signify the trajectory of Sancho's life (born on a slave ship, emancipation and thereafter renown) - but I will keep that as my narrative of the piece  :)

The second half featured two virtuoso performances by three of the senior members of the Buskaid ensemble. Starting the half was Tiisetso Mashishi's performance of Max Bruch's Romance for Viola and Orchestra. His previous performance at the Buskaid concert at the beginning of the year, was the highlight of the concert, and once again he didn't disappoint.  

This was followed by  Pablo de Sarasate's Navarra for two violins and orchestra, played by Kabelo Monnathebe and Simiso Radebe. It was as much fun looking at them play, as it was to hear the piece - the communication between the two during the performance was amazing; and it is certainly a piece that commands the audience's attention on the soloists. It's a fun piece, reminiscent of a Spanish dance/song and a fitting finale for the "formal" part of the program. The encore for the formal part of the orchestra was a short, lively piece by Mussorgsky - but I am not sure of the title. 

Buskaid's informal part of the concert is probably what makes their performances so special. It also highlights the difference in audiences - here, as the gospel, kwela and afro-pop songs started, the audience joined in, dancing - and not the young members only - it was the mothers and perhaps even the grandmothers. But that was only in the front - the dancing was in the aisles, and at the back - it was a celebration. 

I am quite convinced, that it may even make sense for Buskaid to link up with one (or more) afro-pop bands - and produce an album; with Buskaid performing the music, and the singers singing. One of the great things about Buskaid, is the variety of types of music performed - today's performance spanned almost 350 years of music. Buskaid always manages to balance the classical with the contemporary; and looking at the packed hall, it works.

Buskaid's annual concert in on Saturday, 6 September at Linder Auditorium - and highly recommended.