Back home on a whirl­wind

Ex­trav­a­ganza is a great com­ing-of-age gift, says mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Ja­nine Neeth­ling says

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOOD WEEKEND -

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RTSCAPE 10 is a star-stud­ded ex­trav­a­ganza of cul­tural en­ter­tain­ment fea­tur­ing Si­bongile Khu­malo, Ma­dosini, Emo Adams, Cape Town Opera, the Cape Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra and more.

The one-night-only cor­nu­copia of per­form­ing arts cel­e­brates a decade since the launch of the new name of the West­ern Cape’s per­form­ing arts coun­cil, which was formed in 1969, and the multi-venue arts house bear­ing the same name.

It is also a show­case of the new opera house in the Artscape com­plex as well as a cel­e­bra­tion of the many per­for­mance dis­ci­plines it caters for.

Con­sider that Artscape that is home to Cape Town City Bal­let, the CPO and Voices of the Na­tion (Cape Town Opera), and is a sec­ond home to count­less the­atre and mu­si­cal per­form­ers, as well as the new lo­cale for the Zip Zap Cir­cus and the driv­ing force be­hind a vi­brant se­ries of com­mu­nity out­reach pro­grammes, and the mam­moth task of pre­sent­ing this all over one night be­comes clear.

The hon­ours fall to di­rec­tor Paul War­wick Grif­fin, mu­si­cal di­rec­tor Ja­nine Neeth­ling and CPO con­duc­tor Richard Cock.

Ja­nine Neeth­ling is about to fly from Jo­han­nes­burg to Cape Town and is wrestling with piec­ing to­gether what is ar­guable the city’s great­est multi-genre event, get­ting her­self and her com­pan­ions on the plane, and a si­nus prob­lem.

It’s not re­ally like talk­ing to a per­son – al­though she’s bright, en­gaged, warm and very funny – it’s more like try­ing to grasp a whirl­wind.

“The se­cret is in the artists, in the line-up,” she says. “For ex­am­ple, we are rep­re­sent­ing the out­reach pro­grammes that fall un­der Cape Town City Bal­let, and will see them per­form­ing with chil­dren and do­ing the polon­aise. It’s about that kind of cross-pol­li­na­tion – putting Jaz­zart to­gether with CT Bal­let, some­thing that hasn’t hap­pened in years, I be­lieve.”

She goes on: “We are very for­tu­nate to have two leg­ends, Si­bongile Khu­malo and Si­bongile Mngoma, who are among the very few per­for mers who can do both jazz and clas­si­cal. Be­cause of their con­trol and tech­nique, they can do any­thing from the aria to South African jazz, and that’s rather nice to be able to work with.”

She men­tions more of the artists, and how their pieces will meet the over-arch­ing vi­sion of cross-pol­li­na­tion: Tina Schouw and Wo­man­tide; Emo Adams and the Zip Zap Cir­cus with an un­ac­com­pa­nied cello do­ing a Bach solo; a multi-choir take on The Mis­sion, the Jikeleza Bal­let Group, the Um­ty­i­ty­imbo Group do­ing tra­di­tional Xhosa danc­ing; An­dré Schwartz and Lau­rika Rauch…

“Artscape is home to all th­ese art forms, and when we present them we don’t say that they ex­ist sep­a­rately,” Neeth­ling says. “For ex­am­ple, we have kudu horns and a praise poet, and then the poet is greeted by a bal­le­rina who rit­u­al­is­ti­cally takes him into her world. Be­ing able to dream th­ese things up… it’s one of the big­gest high­lights of my year.”

She adds: “I watched my first the­atre per­for­mances in what is now Artscape. I did bal­let there as a kid and did my first pro­fes­sional per­for­mance there. Now, I’m about 40 and go­ing grey, and they say life starts then; that ev­ery­thing be­fore that is just a prepa­ra­tion. This feels like a great com­ing-of-age present.”

Neeth­ling has been mu­si­cal di­rec­tor on shows rang­ing from Queen at the Opera and The Rocky Hor­ror Pic­ture Show to Boy Meets Boy, and com­posed mu­sic for tele­vi­sion ( Sout­mans­land, The Wed­ding Show) and stage ( Birdy, Death of a Sales­man), winning the KKNK Kanna Award for Elz­abé Zi­ets­man’s Agter Glas, as well as pro­duc­ing al­most a dozen mu­sic al­bums and winning Ger­aas best al­bum of the year awards for Amanda Stry­dom’s Op ’n Klein Blou Ghoen (2002) and Ver­spreide Don­der­buie (2003). She per­formed a cross­over recital with Si­bongile Khu­malo for Madiba’s 85th birth­day cel­e­bra­tions. Next year’s projects in­clude an a cap­pella show of the The Mes­siah and work­ing with Stan­dard Bank Young Artist Of The Year (dance) pre­vi­ous win­ner Dada Masilo.

Artscape 10 is on to­mor­row night for one night only at Artscape. Also fea­tured are Latosi ”Ma­dosini” Mphahleni, Vad­hini In­dian Arts Academy and African Chord Melodies. Tick­ets are R100 and R150 from 021 421 7695, Com­puticket on 083 915 8000, Shoprite and Check­ers.

NON-STOP: Ja­nine Neeth­ling has a mam­moth job piec­ing to­gether the multi-genre event.

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