By GILLIAN RENNIE
Here is a list of things that happened at the Symphony Concert at Guy Butler Theatre on Sunday afternoon. You will have to decide for yourself what order the list should be in because, TBH, I have no idea how to organise a hierarchy of excitement from an afternoon this uplifting. If you were there, please add to the list.
- Hearing student musicians play alongside more experienced musicians and observing the respect all musicians on stage had for each other.
- Experiencing the fruits of artistic collaboration across universities and schools and cities and, from that collaboration inhaling the hope and joy that filled the theatre.
- Feeling the orchestra’s growing confidence as the programme unfolded. From a tentative start in Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture, the sound grew richer and surer with each piece until Dvorak’s Symphony No 9 cantered to its (impeccably timed) closing chords, bating our breath to the violinists’ bows poised above their heads.
- Being able to see the wind section when the backlights eventually came on (probably a big excitement for them was being able to see their music stands).
- Being at the world premiere of Stellenbosch University composer Arthur Feder’s Moments for Orchestra, a five-part transportation written especially for this event.
- Hearing the uhadi bow mesh so thrillingly with a western orchestra in Waking the Divine.
- Seeing the uhadi tradition updated and upheld by the dignified and tender playing and singing of Zanethemba Mdyogolo.
- I told you there was a lot to get excited about…
- Seeing friends shaking hands, saying how do you do when what they’re really saying is I love you.
- The lineage of Makhanda music elders Ishbel Sholto-Douglas and Dorothy Holder living on in the assured tone of cellist Ben Terry, and from Priscilla Glover to the deep heart playing of agile pianist Bayanda Mthetho.
- Feeling the wave of soprano Lindokuhle Gushu’s voice wrapping around us, bearing us aloft.
- The commitment of Eastern Cape teachers who bussed their students to the Monument from East London and Gqeberha.
- The warmth and energy (and, oh my, those twinkly toes) of conductor Marvin Kernelle, last seen in Makhanda with the Cape Town Opera doing fantastic things at the Festival and may he come back soon with his great big infectious soul and his fabulous footwear.
- Noting the roof didn’t fall in when people applauded between movements.
- Calculating the average age of the soloists to be 21 years old – 21 for heaven’s sake – which makes us a lucky bunch of concert-goers for a long time to come.
- Hearing the leaving audience tra-la-la-ing the New World melody into the car park.
Thank you, Rupert Music Foundation. Thank you, Nelson Mandela University Dean of Humanities (we see you, Prof Pamella Maseko). Thank you, NMU and Rhodes music departments.