A young person I know is getting a divorce. Left homeless and destitute, she is staying with me for a few weeks until she can get on her feet. She has little choice but to accompany me to wherever I go, which she does with good grace. So I informed her that we were off to St George’s Church in Parktown for an organ recital.
When we got there there was no programme, although there were programme notes for one of the pieces (I will discuss that later). I don’t like not being given a printed programme and while I find oral introductions great, I like to be able to take the programme home with me and write comments from that. So, I was a little grumpy at the start of the concert.
The first piece played by Martin Mans was a beautifully executed improvisation followed by a duet with Carina Bossenbroek on panpipes. I was hooked. It didn’t matter that I didn’t have a programme and that I was grumpy. The music was all that mattered. We moved through the programme and my feeling of goodwill increased.
Martin Mans has been a church organist since the age of 13. Since 1995 he has been the organist at the Breepleinkerk in Rotterdam. He has made more than 400 CD recordings and he gives more than 175 recitals nationally and internationally every year. He is also a composer. His skill is unquestionable.
One of the pieces he played is his own grandiosely named “Voortrekker Symphony”. I remember learning about the Groot Trek for what seemed like most of my school life (I am told that it was only three years). My heart sank. A whole symphony of this unhappy memory. Happily the Voortrekker Symphony is a shortish work divided in eight distinct parts. Part 1 deals with the Battle Psalm, Psalm 68. Part 2 is a prelude to the Great Trek. Park 3 is a jovial variation.Part 4 is entitled “Aria: Diebaar Suid-Afrika” which is a bit of an anochronism as South Africa did not exist until 1910. Part 5 is deals with the battles the Voortrekkers fought and Part 6 is entitled Magaliesbergse Aandlied/Psalm 121. Part 7 is a variation on Nkosi Sikelel’iAfrika/Die Stem. Part 8 is a finale based on Now thank we all our God.
Carina Bossenbroek, panpipes player, is but a slip of a girl still in her early twenties. Technically proficient, she is also hugely musical and she and Martin Mans spark off one another to make musical magic.
The real success of the concert, however, was the smile on the face of my young companion. It was not her first choice of how to spend an evening, but she left it light of heart and beaming. Ultimately, this is what great musical entertainment is about. Does it make life bearable for someone, if only for the present? The Martin Mans and Carina Bossenbroek concert on 1 March 2016 at St George’s Church certainly did that, both for my companion, and certainly for me. I suspect that it was universal for all the attendees that evening.
A great evening out.