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).

07 February 2016

Buskaid at Johannesburg International Mozart Festival 2016

Sometimes, Rosemary Nalden brings her teacher persona into the concert hall; which can lead to the detriment of the experience. Yesterday was such an occasion, leading to, in my opinion, a more subdued audience. While welcoming the audience yesterday afternoon, a young boy spoke a bit loudly - leading Rosemary to first comment that the concert is not for "under 6", before ejecting parent and child. 

There was a murmur from the crowd (the lady next to me commented, "She is very bossy, eh?" while another later commented on "how strict" she was) and Rosemary did explain that external noise was distracting during the performance. It was therefore quite amusing that a loud thunderstorm decided to intrude during the later part of the performance leading Rosemary to comment that she couldn't control the heavens unfortunately.

Personally, I think this attitude is one that detracts people from attending classical concerts, as it comes across as snobby and aloof. After all, if children are not attending concerts (given that this concert was at a school too!) at a young age, how can we expect them to develop a following later in life? The atmosphere of concerts has also changed - modern day classical concerts compete with pop, rock, jazz and even musicals - all of which encourages healthy audience feedback. Given that the concerts I have attended in Soweto tend to be quite boisterous affairs - perhaps the Buskaid should encourage similar attitudes for all audiences.

The distraction aside - this year's programme was the most enjoyable since I have attended Buskaid's concerts. It had the usual amazing diversity in composers and style and really showcased the talents of the young musicians.

The concert opened with Rameau's Overture to the opera Zaïs. While it is traditional for the Buskaid to always play Rameau, I think this was the first piece that I really enjoyed. It was lively (aided by guest musicians playing woodwinds and the Harp) and felt more engaging than the usual pieces performed by the Buskaid.

Jules Massenet's Meditation from Thaïs, featuring Kabelo Monnathebe, fast-forwarded the era of music by a few centuries, and was a stark change in pace to the Rameau. However, it did go very well with the next piece - Reverie; performed by the modern composer Angela Morley. The composer's life story is in itself interesting, and it is a haunting piece on her conflict being a woman in a man's body before her sex change operation. The solo performance by Mzwandile Twala was amazing - and was also a stark reminder on the youth of the performers - I first saw Mzwandile in the first Buskaid I attended, and he was barely bigger than his violin. Yesterday, as he commanded the stage in his performance - he towered above almost everyone on the stage! The last performance of the first half was the full performance of Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No 3. It's a popular piece that is played often - but I don't think I have ever heard the full piece live.

The second half started with Mozart's Overture to Il Seraglio, to keep to the theme of this year's festival of all things Turkish, followed by Sibelius' Impromptu for String Orchestra. The final piece before the kwela and gospel performances; was an amazing arrangement of Bruch's Kol Nidrei featuring two of the senior performers of the Buskaid - Tisetso Mashini on Viola and Gilbert Tsoke on Cello. It is an amazing musical score - and the hand off between Tisetso and Gilbert was seamless. It was a showcase of proficiency - and a perfect piece to finish the formal concert.