Cape Times

Orches­tra cel­e­brates 100 years of mu­sic

- Zolan Kanno-Youngs Arts · Classical Music · Cape Town · United Kingdom · Michelle Williams · Adolph Hallis

THE year 1914 will al­ways be re­mem­bered for the start of World War I, but for the Cape Phil­har­monic Orches­tra (CPO), it was the be­gin­ning of what will be a 100-year legacy on Fe­bru­ary 28.

Theo Wendt opened the orches­tra’s first con­cert with the Over­ture to Die Meis­tersinger, on that day in 1914.

“The pas­sion, the ded­i­ca­tion, the fact that th­ese guys work their butts off for not mar­ket-re­lated salaries; that’s al­ways been con­sis­tent,” CPO strate­gic mar­ket­ing con­sul­tant Shirley de Kock Gueller said.

In 1914, when it was called the Cape Town Mu­nic­i­pal Orches­tra, it was made up of 14 mem­bers, com­pared to its cur­rent 47. The orches­tra, in­clud­ing pian­ist Adolph Hal­lis, was given an op­por­tu­nity to tour to the UK in 1925 with Leslie He­ward as the com­poser.

Af­ter He­ward, fol­lowed Wil­liam Pick­er­ill, En­rique Jorda and Al­bert Coates who served as the orches­tra’s com­posers, be­fore David Tid­boald took over in 1960.

He com­posed trom­bon­ist Michael Nixon’s first per­for­mance in 1972 when it was then called the Cape Town Sym­phony Orches­tra.

Nixon said he re­mem­bered how dif­fer­ent the au­di­ence was in the 1970s com­pared to to­day.

“Be­cause of apartheid and pol­i­tics, peo­ple of colour were not al­lowed to go or they were dis­cour­aged,” Nixon said.

When CPO prin­ci­pal sec­ond vi­olin­ist Michelle Wil­liams was learn­ing the craft, she was alien­ated as a re­sult of the gov­ern­ment re­quir­ing peo­ple of colour to have a per­mit to at­tend the con­certs in the 1960s.

“When 1961 came, they said now you can’t go to con­certs any­more, you need a per­mit and if you went, you had to sit at the back,” Wil­liams said.

The un­fair treat­ment didn’t end, even when Wil­liams joined the orches­tra in the 1980s.

While mem­bers of the orches­tra stood up in her de­fence, she didn’t see any changes for more than five years un­til the orches­tra was no longer owned by the mu­nic­i­pal­ity which also re­sulted in a dip in fund­ing.

“We’ve got this de­vel­op­ment of chil­dren that are com­ing up now,” Wil­liams said, re­fer­ring to the CPO Out­reach and Ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme, which was launched in 2003.

The pro­gramme fo­cuses on de­vel­op­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of mu­si­cians by pro­vid­ing in­stru­ments, study grants and teach­ing ses­sions in town­ships.

CPO chief ex­ec­u­tive Louis Heyne­man said he could al­ready fore­see the out­reach pro­gramme driv­ing more change in the orches­tra’s cul-

The out­reach pro­gramme fo­cuses on de­vel­op­ing the next gen­er­a­tion of mu­si­cians

 ?? Picture: COURT­NEY AFRICA ?? NOW: Jill King prac­tises along­side her fel­low Cape Phil­har­monic Orches­tra vi­ola play­ers dur­ing re­hearsal yes­ter­day at the Artscape theatre.
Picture: COURT­NEY AFRICA NOW: Jill King prac­tises along­side her fel­low Cape Phil­har­monic Orches­tra vi­ola play­ers dur­ing re­hearsal yes­ter­day at the Artscape theatre.
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 ??  ?? ture in the years to come.
“Our audiences are too white at this stage but there is some change be­cause once you have these youth or­ches­tras play­ing, 80 to 90 per­cent of them are peo­ple of colour and their rel­a­tives are com­ing to con­certs, get­ting...
ture in the years to come. “Our audiences are too white at this stage but there is some change be­cause once you have these youth or­ches­tras play­ing, 80 to 90 per­cent of them are peo­ple of colour and their rel­a­tives are com­ing to con­certs, get­ting...

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