Concert review: Rocking forever with the stunning CPO Community Spectacular 2021 – online -December 23, 2021 – January 9, 2022

What: Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra Community Spectacular 2021
When: December 23, 2021 – January 9, 2022
Where- online:
Tickets: R120    

Introducing the gala show, MC, Alan Committee quips that what we are about to see, is a “telly-visual pleasure”. It is a “pleasure” to see this beautiful concert – a magnificent showcase of artistry featuring the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and guests which include, Gloria Bosman, Phoebe Mxhaji, Anna Davel; cellist Carol Thorns (aka The Girl in The Bubble), Luvo Maranti (tenor), Sanele Mwelase (counter tenor), Earl Gregory, Indoni dancers and a sensational flying/dance set with Phelelani Ndakrokra of Zip Zap Circus. See Quicket, for full line-up. Director Aviva Pelham has seamlessly brought together an eclectic mix of artists – in a breathtaking concert – which is visually and aurally captivating. The flow and pace is brilliant – with each set pared to an essence- not too long. Other directors – take note – less is more. Stefan Lombard and Johan Griesel have arranged, co-ordinated the music – like a dream. Lighting by Faheem Bardien shifts according to each set – razzle dazzle, moody, upbeat, and elegiac.

Alan Committee enthuses that 48 cameras were used to film the concert. He is joking but the filming is impressive –with multiple angles – artists, orchestra, whole company, hands on piano, the pulling on strings of a violin, riffs from plugged in guitar and other instruments. This concert is epic and intimate. It is a celebration of the resilience of music and the fact that our city’s orchestra has endured through lockdown and collaborated with a range of artists- bridging in multiple directions. In tandem with the glittering gala, a deep poignancy is conveyed. Watch the expressions of the masked musicians (obviously not the wind players), the soloists. Watch CPO musos clapping in the tango set (Beata and Andre Cloete and Zamar); keeping time, setting the beat. Watch soloists Veronica Bell (violin) and Monika Stuchlik (accordion) as they glide across the stage in gowns which evoke Viennese glamour to this event. One can see Aviva Pelham’s touch here – the Diva continental finesse – mixed in with the yearning of travelling troubadours, fiddlers, accordion players, moving from village to village; charming crowds, gathered in town squares. The concert pings for me in terms of folk music (such as Klezmer and Balkan rhythms).

The concert brought on goosebumps for me. It is magnificent. The streamed concert runs until January 9, 2021. It is the ideal show to watch over the Christmas and New Year weekends. Hopefully, there are “better days before us”, as the lyrics go to the iconic song, Paradise Road which is sung by Gloria Bosman, Phoebe Mxhaji and Anna Davel. I guess that this song has become the South African anthemic pandemic song. The Americans have Somewhere Over the Rainbow. We have Paradise Road (1979, written Patric van Blerk and Fransua Roos, first recorded in 1980 by the South African group, Joy. This version, arranged by Mike Campbell.) Yeah, we have potholes and load shedding, but here we are, in this beautiful city, with our CPO; our city orchestra in fine form. Seeing the legend Gloria Bosman on stage, is a treat. 

Please don’t tell me that you are streaming fatigued. This concert, to quote, Alan Committie, is “a pleasure”. I pressed the re-wind button and watched again and then again. Yes, that good. Bravo to conductor Brandon Phillips, the CPO, producer Louis Heyneman, soloists and creative team – for creating this extraordinary community gala spectacular.

Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra Community Spectacular 2021

Director: Aviva Pelham
Music direction and coordination: Stefan Lombard
Lighting design: Faheem Bardien
Sound design: Johan Griesel
MC: Alan Committie
Producer: Louis Heyneman  

Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra
Conductor: Brandon Phillips    

Girl in the Bubble: Cellist Carol Thorns in Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra Community Spectacular 2021 – streamin -December 23, 2021 – January 9, 2022, via Quicket. Pic: Joan Ward.