What and who is hot on the local scene
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.