Monday, February 21, 2011

Financial Times: 'An ambitious programme for the 2011 Cape Festival is about to kick off'

[Umculo and Darling Music Experience]

The Cape Festival in South Africa runs from 25 February to 7 March, 2011, according to its website. The Darling Music Experience takes place from 25-27 February, 2011, its website says. An article in The Financial Times is an overview of the opera scene in South Africa today. Richard Fairman begins by describing the “Choral Eisteddfod” which was held in Johannesburg in July 2009 by the South African Schools and which filled a 6,000-seat stadium:

Financial Times
By Richard Fairman
Published: February 18 2011
“The promise for music in the country seems boundless. South Africa-born Shirley Apthorp, FT music correspondent in Berlin and founder of the organisation Umculo (Xhosa for both 'Reconciliation' and 'Music'), says she was astounded by the event.” “No wonder Apthorp wanted to start up Umculo’s Cape Festival, based in and around Cape Town, to harness all that youthful enthusiasm.”

Bongani Ndodana-Breen, a South African composer who has spent the past 15 years in Canada, says he finds opera in his homeland 'sickeningly Eurocentric. There is more cultural diversity in North America than we have here. It is time for us to get away from the Euro roots that white folks in the 1960s gave opera in South Africa and start encouraging more creative composers and directors.' Perhaps it is a sign of progress that Ndodana-Breen’s opera – Hani, a portrait of assassinated black leader Chris Hani and one of five 20-minute operas premiered by Cape Town Opera in the autumn – won good reviews across the political spectrum.”

“An ambitious programme for the 2011 Cape Festival is about to kick off with workshops and performances based around Purcell’s King Arthur, for which young South Africans will work in co-operation with international musicians from Germany, the Netherlands, the US and Venezuela. The production, which is conducted by Dingaan and staged by German director Robert Lehmeier, will form the centrepiece of a conference and symposium on the implementation of El Sistema in South Africa.

“Is there still cause for optimism? Ndodana-Breen says that the enthusiasm of young people in South Africa is uplifting. 'That is what I have seen at the University of Cape Town Opera School and Tshwane University of Technology. We have been workshopping an opera about Winnie Mandela and there will be moments when those extraordinary young voices fill the room and you want to start crying.' Does that summarise the message from South Africa? 'Yes,' he says. 'Don’t underestimate the talents we have here.'”

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