Op­pikoppi em­braces di­ver­sity

Sunday World - - Opinion - LEE WATKINS

SOUTH Africa has seen an ex­plo­sion of mu­sic fes­ti­vals and mu­sic award shows. One that has stood the test of time is Op­pikoppi which is in its 21st year, mak­ing it one of the long­est-run­ning mu­sic fes­ti­vals in the coun­try.

When Op­pikoppi started it rep­re­sented the mu­sic in­ter­est of a mi­nor­ity eth­nic group white South Africans. But since then it has come to re­flect the di­verse tastes of South Africans at large, ap­peal­ing to au­di­ences from many eth­nic and re­gional back­grounds.

Over the past two decades, the fes­ti­val has grown sub­stan­tially to be­come one of the big­gest and most pop­u­lar in the coun­try.

Mu­sic acts at Op­pikoppi are rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the evo­lu­tion of a demo­cratic South Africa.

It holds on to the mu­si­cal mem­o­ries of the past and is proac­tive in pro­vid­ing a mu­si­cal map to­wards the fu­ture.

This year the per­form­ers range from older, well-es­tab­lished mu­si­cians like Johnny Clegg and Karen Zoid to styles such as choral mu­sic which is en­joyed by the ma­jor­ity of South Africans.

Op­pikoppi is clearly ded­i­cated to bring­ing au­di­ences of all dis­po­si­tions to­gether in the name of mu­sic.

The fes­ti­val s evo­lu­tion

Op­pikoppi is a col­lo­qui­al­ism de­rived from the Afrikaans phrase op die kop­pie”, which trans­lates di­rectly to on the hill”. Hosted an­nu­ally over three days in the se­cond week of Au­gust on a pri­vate farm in Lim­popo, Op­pikoppi had its be­gin­nings as the Op­pikoppi Fes­ti­val of Rock”.

As the ti­tle sug­gests, it had a fo­cus pri­mar­ily on rock mu­sic. It was a sin­gle stage with about 27 acts per­form­ing to an au­di­ence of about 400 peo­ple. To­day, the fes­ti­val boasts about 150 acts across seven fixed stages that play host to a huge range of mu­sic gen­res.

Jazz, blues, ska, hip-hop, kwaito, elec­tro, drum n bass, metal, tra­di­tional, folk and so-called world mu­sic are per­formed to an ever­di­ver­si­fy­ing crowd of ap­prox­i­mately 20 000 peo­ple.

Over the years, a huge range of uniquely lo­cal mu­sic have been show­cased. From Afrikaans folk he­roes like Koos Kom­buis and Valiant Swart to well-es­tab­lished African folk and jazz leg­ends Madala Kunene, Vusi Mahlasela and Hugh Masekela.

It has also in­cluded lo­cal rock he­roes Spring­bok Nude Girls and Fokof­polisiekar, to name just a few.

With its hum­ble be­gin­nings as a small gath­er­ing of lo­cal artists, Op­pikoppi now at­tracts a grow­ing num­ber of in­ter­na­tional acts from around the globe.

The fes­ti­val brings in some of the big­gest names in con­tem­po­rary mu­sic. Re­cent years have seen bands such as Ea­gles of Death Metal, Deftones, Wolf­mother and Cat Power grace the Koppi stage.

A di­verse range of mu­sic acts and per­for­mance styles are once again in­cluded this year: from the de­bauched, high­en­ergy the­atri­cal­ity of US-based Gypsy punk out­fit Go­gol Bordello to the low-key psy­che­delic min­i­mal­ism of lo­cal elec­tro guru, Felix La­band. Bordello and La­band should present a dra­matic con­trast to other bands which might ap­peal more to a middle of the road au­di­ence. An ex­pand­ing reper­toire In 2012 the Op­pikoppi team an­nounced that it would be or­gan­is­ing a con­cert in Cape Town called One Night in Cape Town. This fea­tures the head­lin­ing acts of the fes­ti­val, mostly in­ter­na­tional artists.

The fes­ti­val also has a YouTube chan­nel fea­tur­ing in­ter­views with bands, in­ter­views with fes­ti­val go­ers, and live stream­ing of per­form­ing artists, with views into the tens of thou­sands.

As for its fu­ture, Op­pikoppi has to com­pete with the range of other fes­ti­vals in the coun­try.

But its longevity, grow­ing ap­peal and in­creas­ing au­di­ences are an in­di­ca­tion that it has be­come a ma­jor event on the mu­sic cal­en­dar for new gen­er­a­tions of au­di­ences.

This means it should con­tinue into the dis­tant fu­ture.

Watkins is se­nior lec­turer in Eth­no­mu­si­col­ogy at Rhodes Univer­sity. Source: https://the­con­ver­sa­tion.com

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