Clas­si­cal mu­sic

What and who is hot on the lo­cal scene

Finweek English Edition - - LIFESTYLE -

If the re­cent Red Hot Chili Pep­pers con­cert in Jo­han­nes­burg taught Fin­week any­thing, it’s that stand­ing in long queues and drink­ing cheap beer is no longer our idea of fun. We thought long­ingly of the Mozart per­for­mance at the Lin­der au­di­to­rium, where the au­di­ence prob­a­bly wore clothes that cov­ered all their jig­gly bits and the re­ward for stand­ing in a queue is a rea­son­ably priced G&T. Some might say we’re get­ting old, but we think of it as get­ting classy (with all due re­spect to the RHCP – the classi­est of rock groups).

With the clas­si­cal mu­sic in­dus­try alive and well across the globe, you’d be hard-pressed to find an older form of mu­si­cal en­ter­tain­ment. What we to­day de­fine as “clas­si­cal mu­sic” is be­lieved to have started in the 11th cen­tury. By the 16th cen­tury, com­posers be­gan mak­ing use of staff no­ta­tion to record mu­si­cal rhythms, pitch and me­tre. Much like writ­ing as a means to record words, staff no­ta­tion stan­dard­ised the way we read and un­der­stand mu­sic, mak­ing it pos­si­ble for com­po­si­tions to out­live the com­poser.

Lo­cally, the clas­si­cal mu­sic scene is sur­pris­ingly ro­bust. In ad­di­tion to a ded­i­cated clas­si­cal mu­sic ra­dio sta­tion Clas­sic FM, which has an au­dited lis­ten­er­ship of 160 000, there are a re­mark­able num­ber of choirs and or­ches­tras that cel­e­brate and hon­our the tra­di­tion of clas­si­cal mu­sic.

Over the years, South African clas­si­cal mu­si­cians have ap­peared on stages across Europe and Amer­ica. When the so­prano Mimi Co­ertse first left our shores in 1953 for Lon­don and later Vi­enna, the world sat up and took no­tice of South African tal­ent. Fol­low­ing in her foot­steps, the young so­pra­nos Pretty Yende and Elsa van den Heever re­cently de­buted at the distin­guished Met­ro­pol­i­tan Opera in New York, mak­ing quite an im­pres­sion on the world stage.

In ad­di­tion to our vo­cal tal­ent, many lo­cal in­stru­men­tal mu­si­cians play in well-known in­ter­na­tional or­ches­tras, while our con­duc­tors are in de­mand across the globe. Ac­cord­ing to Sue Cock of Clas­sic FM, South African mu­si­cians worth watch­ing are the vi­o­lin­ists David Ju­ritz, Daniel Hope and Gina Beukes, all work­ing out of the UK, and the clar­inet­tist Robert Pickup, cur­rently the prin­ci­pal clar­inet­tist of the Phil­har­mo­nia Zurich Orches­tra of the Zurich Opera House.

Pretty Yende

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