Tuesday, September 25, 2007

South African Music Day

In the midst of a crazy busy new term, I spent a little time in South African space on Sunday. Kathy Tagg put together a wonderful day's activities revolving around South African music at the Manhattan School of Music, and while I didn't get to attend everything, or even as much as I would have liked to, the two concerts I saw were fabulous! Around lunch time, there was a program of South African vocal music, with two soloists performing song cycles (one in English and one in Afrikaans) a third soloist singing an arrangement of a Xhosa bow song (The cello made an amazing substitute for a gourd-resonated bow), and an ensemble singing traditional choral music. You can guess what my favourite was! I was really impressed with the vocal sound this group, in particular achieved, even with a very thin bass section. The soprano sound was wonderfully full.
The evening concert was of chamber music, and as a fan of, in particular, Peter Klatzow, and more tentatively, Kevin Volans, I really enjoyed this. The performers were not universally capable during this concert, and one of the string ensembles reminded of how critical it is that the instruments are properly in tune when the music is not conventionally tonal (!), but the absolute highlight of the evening, Kevin Volans' percussion composition Chakra, performed with great flair by three percussionists (one of whom was not listed in the program) from the MSM, swept away any lingering doubts some of the earlier pieces may have raised about my devotion to this type of music.
Well done on a resoundingly successful event, Kathy, and thank you for googling this blog!

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