Wits Trio, better than ever

Wits Trio

Wits Trio as at 2018

 

The Wits Trio has always been fabulous.  Malcolm Nay on piano and Zanta Hofmeyr on violin are a stunning pair of chamber musicians.  With the new inclusion of Susan Mouton, the principal cellist of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, one has a truly great trio of mature, intelligent and sensitive musicians.

On Sunday 22 July 2018 at 15:30 in The Atrium at Wits, they met to play an interesting and challenging programme as had been presented at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown earlier in the month.

The works were the Trio no. 18 in A major by Josef Haydn (1732-1809); the Trio no 1 in G major (1879) by Claude Debussy (1862-1918) and the Trio in E-flat major, Opus 100 (1827) by Franz Schubert (1797-1828).

The ensemble took these works and presented them as a gift to the audience.  The sheer loveliness of the work shone through the flawless playing and wonderfully harmonious interpretations.  In his introduction to the final work, Malcolm Nay warned the audience that it was long.  It may have seemed long to the performers, but we, the audience, were caught up and it all seemed quite short.

All three of the performers are at the top of their professions.  Malcolm Nay is an associate professor (piano performance) at Wits University as well as a sought after adjudicator.  It is, however, as a chamber musician that Malcolm Nay is best known.

Zanta Hofmeyr is a renowned violin soloist and chamber musician throughout the country and the list of top violin students who want to study with her is longer than she could possibly have time for.  My favourite thing about Zanta Hofmeyr is not in her CV – it is that she unfailingly attends every possible musical event in the region (both Pretoria and Johannesburg), especially where young violinists are performing.

Susan Mouton is also an experienced and sought after adjudicator and teacher of the cello.  Susan Mouton plays in several chamber music ensembles, and she is, as I said above, the principal cellist in the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

The next Wits Concert will take place on 21 August, 2018, at 19:30, also at The Atrium and it will feature Naomi Sullivan on Saxophone and Luke Newby on Clarinet.  They will be performing works by various composers, including South African works.  Check the poster for the Wits Trio Concert – the booking details are the same.  Reminder about the odd time – 19:30, not 20:00.

 

 

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Florence

A long time ago, I attended the first reading of this new play by Myer Taub.  Only years later has it seen the light of day in a format far removed from the early reading.

It has been created in such a way that it is very challenging for the actress who portrays both the ghost of Florence herself and an actress who is portraying Florence (yeah, it’s as complex as it sounds), it is directed by Greg Homann.  Leila Henriques stars.

So the work is messy, with a mishmash of recollections by the ghost and thoughts of the actress.  Of course, the work is not chronological as one might expect from a ghost recalling her life.  The director, Greg Homann, has allowed this messy mush to bloom by not demarcating the two characters in any way outside of the text itself and the interpretation of the immensely capable Leila Henriques.

The story is that of Lady Florence Phillips, the benefactor of the Johannesburg Art Gallery.  It is the tale of the era, of Johannesburg, Kimberley and London.  It evokes the smells used to disguise the smells.  At one point when the family were still living in Noord Street long before Coco Chanel made her iconic perfume, the smell is that of Chanel No 5, an anachronism which doesn’t bother the author or the actress.  That is part of the charm of the work.

Of course, it is easy to get distracted by the difficult nature of the script, and mildly irritated that the director for his refusal to help the audience, but once one overcomes these problems, Florence unfolds in the portrayal of this remarkable woman by Leila Henriques to allow the viewer the same pleasure as one examining an a visual artwork up close and intimately.  The viewer will see wonderful details and some knowledge of the era and the subject matter adds to one’s enjoyment. It is then that the skill of the scriptwriter and director in not diluting the message comes into its own.

The gorgeous and clever set by Richard Forbes is appropriately evocative of the contemporary Johannesburg Art Gallery and the fencing obscures the work visually the way the rest of the play does in the choice of format and interpretation.  The fence is referenced in the work.

Lighting is by Nomvula Molepo and it contains strobe lighting during the Highveld thunderstorm.  Sound design is by Ntuthuko Mbuyazi and stage management is by Malebo Mokoto.  Costume design is by Karabo Legoabe & Nthabiseng Malaka.

Florence poster

Florence is being presented in the Barney Simon Theatre upstairs at The Market Theatre until 26 August 2018.

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The Musicals in Concert

This coming weekend is a huge one for music lovers. The South African National Youth Orchestra is performing at Agfa, Oakfields are presenting their productions of A Chorus Line at The Fringe at Joburg Theatre, the Minnesota Orchestra is visiting the Aula in Pretoria, Regina Mundi in Soweto and the City Hall in Johannesburg, SAMRO are hosting the finals for their Overseas Competition candidates at the Linder Auditorium and, for four performances only, Jonathan Roxmouth, the current King of Musicals, is on the Teatro stage.  I really, really wanted to fit this into the busy weekend, and I have!  I’m going to be exhausted by the Monday.

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Jonathan Roxmouth – the Musicals in Concert will be accompanied by a 45 piece orchestra, conducted by Bryan Schimmel.  Special guests include Craig Urbani, Cantare Jubiloso, Caroline Borolo, Stageworx School and the Jhb Youth Orchestra. I am looking forward to this event.

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Audiences can look forward to songs from The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, CATS, Aladdin, CHESS, The Sound of Music, A Chorus Line, Sunset Boulevard, Aspects of Love, Love Never Dies, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and many more…

 

2017 , Jonathan Roxmouth The Musicals,

Jonathan Roxmouth

Event Information

Date: 17 August – 19 August 2018

Venue: The Teatro at Montecasino

Times: Friday 17 Aug @ 8pm/ Saturday 18 Aug @ 3pm & 8pm, Sunday 19 Aug @ 2pm

Tickets: R125 – R375, available through Computicket

Tel: Box Office (011) 511 1818

Emailmark@montetheatre.co.za

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Dream Big – support young artists

Johannesburg’s most spectacular charity event this year is Dream Big, a cocktail party, concert and auction, to be held on Saturday 18 August at the Atlas Studios in Milpark, Johannesburg. The event is in aid of young artists, and is presented by the Doilie Foundation and the National Youth Orchestra. ​​

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The evening will have a star-studded line-up with our full green-and-gold symphonic team, the 80-piece National Youth Orchestra, performing with guest artists Coenie de Villiers, Gloria Bosman, Elzabé Zietsman and Naomi van Niekerk under the baton of Roderick Cox, who joins us all the way from the USA. Over and above this, there will be an auction of pieces by industry greats, and delicious food prepared by chef Arnold Tanzer and his crew at Food on the Move – all brought together by comedian Marc Lottering.

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Items for the auction have been given to the cause by Marianne Fassler, Gavin Rajah, Alex Hamilton, Olaf Bisschoff, and Studio Loubser, and art works by Thokozani Mthiyane and Toni Bico have been donated by Art Eye Gallery. These beautiful lots will be auctioned off on the night by Susie Goodman of Strauss & Co.

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Bacher & Co have donated luxury items for our VIP welcome packages, D’Aria Winery is providing the wine and gin, and Atlas Studios has donated their gorgeous venue. Top events magician Otto de Jager is orchestrating the decor, Lovemore Music is providing a grand piano, and lighting and sound will be provided by Splitbeam. Maties Travel, a division of Tourvest Travel Services, have provided air tickets for our artists from Cape Town.

The headline for the evening may be celebrities and celebration, but it is all with the knowledge that in attending, you would be supporting an arts education for a talented young South African. The two host organisations share in the ideal that an arts education is vital for a healthy and happy society. “We want every talented and driven young artist, regardless of geographical or financial barriers, to have access to a world class education,” says Elzabé Zietsman, founding member of the Doilie Foundation.

As both organisations focus on young artists, teaming up for this event has been a worthwhile and exciting venture. Managing Director of the National Youth Orchestra, Sophia Welz, explains, “We want to assist the Doilie Foundation to support its three beneficiaries through their tertiary education, and to provide the basis for the National Youth Orchestra’s Bursary Fund that makes it possible for talented and deserving musicians that do not have the means to do so, to access world-class education and career opportunities. These resources are desperately needed by our young artists, given that their plight for a conducive learning environment is still largely unattended and/or insufficiently catered for in the mainstream public education system.”

The Doilie Foundation looks after the needs of three exceptionally talented young artists: a music student; a sound engineering student; and a ballet student.

The National Youth Orchestra, founded in 1964, hosts annual orchestra courses, concerts, workshops, and both national and international tours for young musicians, making it one of South Africa’s most successful music institutions.

“Our training pathway has been created to nurture the musical and personal development of South Africa’s finest young musicians. We have performed with a diverse range of local and global artists and personalities, including with our patron Archbishop Tutu, the world’s top selling classical artists of all time, Sir James Galway and internationally acclaimed soprano Barbara Hendricks,” says Welz.

Various corporate sponsorship packages are available. ​Tickets can be bought through Tixsa, and will put you in the running to win a pair of tickets to any European destination on KLM-Royal Dutch Airlines.
For more information visit www.doiliefoundation.co.za #DreamBigSA

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Fawlty Flowers, sheer joy

There are probably millions of now aging fans (sorry Annie Robinson and Mark Mulder) of the fabulous BBC television sitcom, Fawlty Towers.  This delightful comedy was ranked first on the list of Greatest British Television Programmes, although there were only ever twelve episodes made, two seasons of six episodes each.

Fawlty Towers was originally written by John Cleese and Connie Booth, the stars of the television series, after the Monty Python comedy group stayed at a hotel where this sort of manager was in charge.  Marital woes are included as a theme in the series.  The starring pair were married at the time of the first series, but they were already divorces before the recording of the second series.

The fictional hotel, on which the series is premised, is situated in Torquay, England, and the character include the chambermaid, Polly, and the Spanish waiter, Manuel.  The first episode was initially rejected by the BBC in a note saying “This is full of clichéd situations and stereotypical characters and I cannot see it as being anything other than a disaster.”

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Mark Mulder and Annie Robinson as Basil and Sybil in Fawlty Flowers

This local production of “Fawlty Flowers” (sic) was devised and directed by Paul Spence, and stars Annie Robinson as a bossy Sybil – and Polly and the most marvellous Manuel – and Mark Mulder as a wonderful put-upon Basil (and he actually looks like John Cleese).  They are a talented duo.  The team of Spence, Robinson and Mulder is KZN based, and I am delighted that they braved a Gauteng winter for this trip to Sandton’s first theatre.  I hope the lack of cold weather holds out for them.

Fawlty Flowers is a marvellous bit of entertainment, suitable for the whole family and really a great evening out.  I recommend it highly.  Well, unless you don’t like English humour, in which case I recommend that you stay home and watch Casper de Vries reruns on TV.

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The woman of the hour, Daphne Kuhn, owner of Auto & General Theatre on the Square

 

As an aside, the Sandton Theatre on the Square, now sponsored by Auto & General, and which sponsor’s name the Auto & General Theatre on the Square assumes, turned 21 on 1 August (opening night for the production).  The audience and cast were invited to have some cake and a party after the show.  I have seen many of the productions there, although there have been over 2000 productions and one off concerts of various types, usually classical music (Friday lunch times) and jazz concerts. Well done to Daphne Kuhn and her fabulous team, two of whom are referenced in the Fawlty Flowers play – the stage manager, Regina Dube, and the technical manager, Loftus Mohale.  Thank you, thank you, thank you Daphne Kuhn for this special theatre.

Venue: Auto and General Theatre on the Square, Nelson Mandela Square, Cnr Sandton Dr and Rivonia Rd, Sandton.  Telephone: 011 883 8606.
Time: Tue to Sat 8.15pm | Sat 6pm | Sun 4pm
Cost: R75 – R150

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Land Acts, biting satire

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Fans of the Pay Back the Curry and State Fracture satirical works will love the new offering by the same creative team – Mike van Graan, playwright, Daniel Mpilo Richards as the sole performer with Rob van Vuuren as director – in their latest work, Land Acts.

This follows the same formula of different skits, each with a new challenge for the multi-talented Daniel Richards to enact or sing. As can be expected from the title, this current satire is based around the broad them of land expropriation without compensation, a controversial problem currently worrying South Africans.

The diverse musical and dramatic gifts of Daniel Richards are showcased in the clever and brave script from Mike van Graan. We know we live in a free country when playwrights can get away with such provocative material and return to write more of the same.

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Daniel Mpilo Richards in Land Acts.

The work starts with Richards as a tour guide inviting people to visit and invest in South Africa.  The question of whether land is a safe investment is left unanswered as the lights cut to black before the next skit. A young woman tells Malema why she doesn’t want “land” but rather an urban flat.  A car guard share his thoughts. My undoubted favourite of the ten skits in this production is the “black dog” one.  That alone is worth the ticket price.

This is not really laugh-a-minute stuff, it is often too biting and deep for instant laughter but it will leave you thinking about it for the next few days. It is light-hearted and a great evening out if you don’t mind stretching your mind just a little in the name of entertainment.

Land Acts is currently playing (until 28 July 2018) at the Auto & General Theatre on the Square.

Bookings can be made through Computicket – www.computicket.comor tele-book on 0861 915800. Bookings can also be made by calling the theatre’s box office on 011 883 8606. Enquire about group booking discounts and dinner/show packages at one of the restaurants on the Nelson Mandela Square to complete a fine evening of provocative satirical theatre and entertainment!

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Carlo Mombelli ‘Angels and Demons’ Tour

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In association with Concerts SA, South African bassist and composer Carlo Mombelli presents his Angels and Demons tour.

Music extraordinaire Mombelli is joined by an impressive trio of jazz luminaries: Kyle Shepherd on piano, Keenan Chas Ahrends on guitar, and Jonno Sweetman on drums.

The accomplished quartet will play two shows at Johannesburg’s premiere jazz club, The Orbit, before heading to the Western Cape for several shows in Cape Town, Kalk Bay and Stellenbosch.

I Pressed My Spine To The Ground, Mombelli’s latest recording was chosen by the BBC 3 late junction as one of their top 12 picks for 2016 played on the BBC late junction evening radio, London.

Asked about this tour, Mombelli says: “My new project is about my on-going search to create works of beauty between my Angels and Demons, works that explode out of these two opposites. It is an exploration of the positives and negatives of everything. Striving for beauty in my art is my life-long quest and I put my projects together for this end.”

“This is the next period of my art in my compositional and performance career. I want to record the band at the end very soon, so to have the opportunity to perform as many times as possible in a short space of time will solidify the music and prepare us for the recording”, Mombelli says.

Mombelli’s purpose with the project is to tell a story. “It is a story. At the end of a performance, the audience raptures into applause or is in dead silence because the energy of the concept of the band is spiritual. I am always trying to find the spiritual element in music.”

Carlo Mombelli ‘Angels and Demons’ Tour is supported by Concerts SA through the Music Mobility Fund, a funding mechanism which offers opportunities for South African musicians to undertake live music tours.

Events Listing

Johannesburg – The Orbit [Performance]

Friday 13th July – 8.30pm – R160

Saturday 14th July – 8.30pm – R160

Address: 81 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, Johannesburg

Bookings: 011 339 6645 / info@theorbit.co.za

 

 

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