Review: The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO Community) Spectacular Gala July 16, 2022 was an evening of wow

About last night: On July 16, 2022, we attended The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO Community) Spectacular Gala at Artscape, with the dynamic Brandon Phillips conducting. The auditorium was packed – with an un-masked audience. Throughout the pandemic, the CPO has continued to play. Concerts were streamed online, beamed from Cape Town City Hall, with no audience in attendance. Then, when it was possible, the CPO was in action with masked audiences (with 50% ticketing). The CPO hosted a gala community Spectacular concert, in 2021, at Artscape as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations, with a limited audience-in- attendance in accordance with lockdown regulations. That concert was streamed. The 2022 Community Spectacular Gala, last night, July 16, was the first time since the pandemic crunched into lockdowns, that the gala was staged with a full audience, no masks. It was a dazzler. I cannot find the words to describe the joy of sitting at Artscape, with the lights twinkling, a swooning audience and then an incredible concert with the CPO and its guest artists. After the opening – Indiana Jones theme- with the CPO, the dashing Katlego Maboe (MC), crooning Mack The Knife, was lowered onto stage, in a chair. His entrance was followed by the legendary Zollani Mahola- The One Who Sings. She sang Freshlyground’s 20025 hit, Doo be Doo. That got the crowd singing along, in raptures. Then Paxton Fielies (winner of Idols SA, 2027, when she was 17), gave a magic rendition of You Don’t Own me, while Bridgette Berning from Zip Zap Circus, dangled above the audience on aerial silks- wow. See photo, below.

The entire programme was fabulous –with Mahola on stage on numerous occasions (including Waka Waka – Freshlyground’s 2010 World Cup Collab with Shakira); dance by Jazzart Dance Theatre, Unmute Dance Theatre and students from Milton’s Dance Studio. We were captivated by the vocal talents of Lynnelle Kenned (in glam ball gowns) and Stefan Lombard at the piano (and music director of the Gala); and vocals by Zimbini Makwetu, Anslin Gysman, Corneil Muller and Sarah Theron. Zip Zap entranced us with a second act – with Gravity Juggling by Jason Barnard and Jacobus Claassen- juggling – synchronised with the CPO, playing Holberg Reflections – a tour de force. Awe inspiring – pitch perfect juggling in synch with the notes.

It was an evening of wow. One of the wow moments was watching violinists David Bester and Corban Beukes in action with a stunning duet: Presto- from Summer, The Four Seasons. Right, so Beukes is 14 years old. That is not a typo. Beukes did a master class with Royal College professor, Jan Repko and was so impressive that he was invited to perform at the Gala.  Bester is the Concertmaster and Artistic Director of the ECPO (Eastern Cape Philharmonic). Bester went solo, in the first half of the Gala, with a rousing interpretation of Love Theme from Cinema Paradiso.

Opera doyenne, Aviva Pelham in the director’s seat, put together a glittering gala, which is emblematic of the CPO’s scope and its diversity. The CPO is Cape Town’s orchestra and the “soul of the city”. Louis Heyneman, the CEO and artistic director of the CPO, noted in a brief address at the Gala, that a city’s soul is inextricably linked to having an orchestra. He mused that the CPO has embraced and continues to embrace and develop diversity in terms of its programming and projects – classical, contemporary, jazz and community.

The Community Gala captured the spirit of what the CPO does as our City’s orchestra. We could have been in New York or Paris, with this concert. Actually, I don’t know where one would get this level of cross-disciplinary interaction by a classical orchestra with contemporary circus, dance and singers from multiple genres. Oh and Hip Hop.  Katlego Maboe executed a Hip Hop interlude. Yes, the Gala last night, was a once off but there will be other concerts. Bravo to the City of Cape Town for its support of our city’s orchestra.  Watch this space for news about CPO concerts and gala events.

Spectacular: Paxton Fielies singing, backed by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and Zip Zap Circus on aerial silks, Saturday July 16, 2022, Community Spectacular Gala 2022, presented by Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Supplied.

✳ Featured image: Violinists David Bester and Corban Beukes (he is 14), playing at the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra Community Spectacular Gala, July 16, 2022, Artscape. Supplied.