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Wednesday, February 19, 2020

THE GREAT GATSBY PARTY


(Kirsten Sayers, Shelley McLean & Cathy Peacock. Pic by Val Adamson)

Leap into the 'Roaring 20s' with a Leap Year ‘Great Gatsby' Party at Elephant & Co on February 29, 2020, with Platform Jazz playing music from the 20’s and beyond, presented in association with Christopher Duigan’s Music Revival.

Enduringly one of the most popular party themes, The Great Gatsby Party reflects the “adventurous’' social changes that were in the air in the 1920’s. This was also to be seen in the jazz music of the time.

Be entertained by seven-piece jazz band Platform Jazz performing ‘hot’ jazz numbers such as Georgia, ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’, Chicago and many more. All the favourites by Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller and Louis Armstrong are on the programme.

Durban-based Platform Jazz are a stellar collection of top musicians, including Cathy “Hotlips” Peacock on trumpet, Kirsten “The Kitten” Sayers on clarinet , Jeff “Papa Wok” Robinson on sax, and David Solomon, who completes the frontline, on trombone. Jazz legend, Melvin Peters, is to be heard on keys, “Bashful” Bruce Baker is on drums and Andreas “Bullfiddle” Kappen on bass, completes the rhythm section. Christopher Duigan makes a guest appearance and the sultry voice of glamorous KZN song bird, Shelley McLean, completes the line-up.

The second half of the show will bring in ‘swing' favourites for those that care to dance! Platform Jazz will get you shimmying and flapping, and your toes definitely tapping, at this entertaining show. So, don those spats, bobs and fascinators and join the party!

The Great Gatsby Party takes place on February 29 at 19h00 at the Elephant & Co Restaurant, situated at the Athlone Circle Centre, Pietermaritzburg. Tickets for the evening are R475 include a two course meal and welcome drink. Dress '20s style!

Booking is essential as space is limited. Email Elephant & Co athello@elephantandco.co.za to reserve your table (or call 033 342 4813).

KZNPO SUMMER SEASON CONCERT #2


Love is in the air and the spirit of post-Valentine’s romance lingers as William Eddins takes the podium for the KZN Philharmonic’s season’s second programme. The concert takes place tomorrow (Thursday, February 2020) in the Durban City Hall at 19h30.

The American maestro opens with Schubert’s touchingly beautiful Rosamunde Overture. Rodrigo’s delicately scored Concierto de Aranjuez then introduces Montenegrin guitarist Goran Krivokapic as the first of the evening’s two soloists.

This paves the way for the achingly lovely Intermezzo from Mascagni’s Cavalleria Rusticana, which in turn serves to offset the dazzling impact of coloratura soprano Zandile Mzazi, one of South Africa’s leading new-generation stars, who steps onto the spotlight singing the celebrated Gavotte from Massenet’s Manon.

After intermission the programme turns to another operatic love story, with two famous extracts from Verdi’s La Traviata, the opera’s hauntingly evocative Prelude, and Violetta’s exhilarating grande scena, “È strano! … Sempre libera”, with Ms Mzazi again commanding centre-stage.

Sir Edward Elgar’s delightfully sentimental Salut d’amour, written as an engagement gift for his fiancée, Caroline Roberts, serves as the perfect foil for the final work of the evening to make its full impact: Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet overture-fantasy - one of the late Romantic Russian composer’s most inspired tributes to his adored idol, William Shakespeare - crowns the evening with a salute to the world’s most famous lovers.

The concert takes place tomorrow (Thursday, February 2020) in the Durban City Hall at 19h30. Booking is at Computicket.

To link direct to the KZN Philharmonic’s website click on the orchestra’s banner advert on the top of the page or visit kznphil.org.za

The next two concerts of the season take place as follows:

February 27 at 19h30 in the Durban City Hall:
Conductor: Yasuo Shinozaki 
Soloist: Jan Jiracek von Arnim, piano
Beethoven: Coriolan: Overture, Op. 62
Beethoven: Piano Concerto No. 5, Op. 73 in E-flat Major, “Emperor”
Dvořák: Symphony No. 7, Op. 70 in d minor

March 5 at 19h30 in the Durban City Hall
Conductor: Arjan Tien
Violin: Tai Murray
Cello: Aristide du Plessis
Piano: Malcolm Nay
Beethoven: Leonore: Overture No. 1, Op. 138
Beethoven: Triple Concerto, Op. 56 in C Major
Bizet: Symphony No. 1 in C Major

ELSIE: REVIEW


Life in the Gray household, based in a small diamond-mining village of Premier Mine, near Pretoria in the Transvaal Highveld, is described in detail and it makes for an interesting perspective of life of an ordinary working class family soon after the war. (Review by Fiona de Goede)

As soon as I started reading this offering by Neville Herrington, I knew that this was not entirely going to be my cup of tea. Despite this foreboding, I read the book with an open mind, waiting to become a convert and fall in love with this time in South African history.

Elsie’s brother Willie and her shell-shocked boyfriend Hilary, return from fighting in German East Africa during World War I. Willie, who is unemployed, gets involved in illicit diamond smuggling and faces dire consequences as a result of this. Hilary battles with demons of his own and cannot face life in the real world again.

Life in the Gray household, based in a small diamond-mining village of Premier Mine, near Pretoria in the Transvaal Highveld, is described in detail and it makes for an interesting perspective of life of an ordinary working class family soon after the war.

Elsie decides to train as a nurse and is posted to a field hospital in Belgium. Here she comes face to face with war in all its raw horror and terrible waste of human life. She is also eager to learn more about universal suffrage and attends meetings to hear more about this movement.

One of the men that Elsie nurses back to recovery, Eddie, proposes to Elsie and they decide to return to South Africa to start their married life together. Eddie is involved with the miners’ strike in 1922 and Elsie is widowed during this revolt. It is shortly after this event that Elsie opens a home for abused women and single pregnant mothers.

I found the style of writing very clipped and the dialogue stilted and unnatural. Furthermore, despite the title of the book, only the last 50 pages or so of a 160-page book actually deal with Elsie. The bulk of the book focuses on Willie and his life. Various typos which were missed in the editing process slipped through. However, all of that aside, the use of present tense throughout the telling of this tale is probably what I found the most disconcerting. Perhaps readers of previous works by the writer will be more accustomed to this writing style.

Elsie costs R150 (the price excludes postage). ISBN: 978-0-620-85557-0 All books can be ordered from Exclusive Books or the Tekweni website www.tekweni.co.za or email: tekweni@iafrica.com - Fiona de Goede

RITCHIE’S WAR: REVIEW


While Ritchie’s War does stand alone as a novel and touches on various aspects of the three previous volumes, readers might get a better understanding of the complexities of the situation if they read the other three novels in sequence before tackling this one. (Review by Barry Meehan)

Author Neville Herrington is a former lecturer at the University of KZN. He is also a director of the award-winning Durban-based Tekwini Production company, which specialises in documentaries.

Ritchie’s War relates the story of Ritchie Gray, who volunteers at the tender age of 19 for active service in the First World War, and barely survives the East African campaign, which is fought out in near-impossible conditions, with more soldiers dying of malaria, dysentery and black fever than are killed in battle. Decent rations are barely enough to keep a man alive, owing to supply chain problems, and added encounters with warring local tribes, cannibals and a canny German commander, whose force consists mainly of black askaris, add to the confusion of a war being fought a continent away from the main battlefield arena of Europe. Any romantic notions of soldiering and heroism rapidly dissipate, and Ritchie rapidly comes face-to-face with the futility of war.

An heroic act sees him close to death in a military hospital, where he has an “out-of-body” experience that brings back vivid memories of his childhood and sets him on a remarkable and life-threatening journey back in civilian life, determined to investigate the circumstances surrounding the execution of his mother, which draws him into a world of black prostitutes, demonic possession and exorcism.

In his preface to Ritchie’s War, Herrington states that what started out as a trilogy covering the life of Ritchie’s mother, Brigid O’Meara (England Wants Your Gold, which covers the Jameson Raid and the consequent Anglo-Boer War, The Irish Boer Woman, which details the horrors of the British concentration camps, and The Dark Night of the Soul, in which she is drawn in to the demonic world which destroys her) became a quartet with the continuing story of Ritchie. While Ritchie’s War does stand alone as a novel and touches on various aspects of the three previous volumes, readers might get a better understanding of the complexities of the situation if they read the other three novels in sequence before tackling this one.

History buffs, especially those interested in the First World War and the East African campaign, which was fought by the colonies rather than the main protagonists, will get a good insight into the campaign, as all the battles featured in Ritchie’s War are based on well-documented, actual conflict skirmishes and situations. Those who have followed the story of Brigid O’Meara in the first three books in the series will be able to sink their teeth into this story of her son. And dare I say it – it would appear from the ending of Ritchie’s War that the stage has been set for a fifth novel in the series, although it would of necessity be on a very different path to the others.

There are a few typos, grammatical errors and mis-spellings in Ritchie’s War which have slipped past the editor, as with many self-published works, and I must say I found Herrington’s writing in the present tense, as opposed to the accepted norm, somewhat off-putting and stilted on occasion.

“Ritchie, Kosie, David and Billy are members of a patrol sent on a reconnaissance and led by a tough sergeant from Barberton, 24-year-old Johnny Bates, who immediately maps out the aim.
‘Remember, fellows, are (sic) mission is not to get into a fight, but to remain undetected. Stealth is the keyword.’”

These quibbles aside, any local author who is prepared to self-publish deserves the support of the reading public.

Ritchie’s War costs R150 (price excludes postage) and can be ordered from Exclusive Books or Tekwini website at www.tekweni.co.za or email: tekweni@iafrica.com ISBN: 978-0-9946692-5-4 – Barry Meehan

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

CAROL BROWN TRIBUTE TO ANDREW VERSTER

(Right: Andrew Verster)


Carol Brown, Art and Museum Consultant (t/a Curate.a.Space), and former director of the Durban Art Gallery, pays tribute to her friend and colleague, the late Andrew Verster.

Andrew Verster died peacefully in his bed on Sunday February 16, 2020. It was the kind if death he would have wished for. No fuss, no drama – an end to a life well lived. Since his life partner, Aidan Walsh, died in July 2009, it seemed that life was never quite the same for him.

However, notwithstanding his personal loss, Andrew never lost his love of creating. Creating was, after all, his life. At his Retrospective Exhibition in 2008, he said “If I had to choose one label for myself and only one it would be Painter. He continued – “Working as a full time artist for twenty five years has meant that I have to be versatile and develop a lot of skills so that I could take on a variety of commissions. This does not mean I am skilled in the media I work in – such as tapestry, or carpet making or wood carving as I have done for the new Constitutional Court – rather that I collaborate with people who DO have the skills.  But I have to know enough of the possibilities of each of the processes in order to be able to design in them."

The skills he mentioned were just a small part of the other things he did – he designed Opera and Theatre costumes. He worked with architects designing etched glass, stainless steel panels and many other public art commissions.


He was a poet, a writer of short stories, an art critic and served on many boards such as the Film and Publication Review Board, the Durban Art Works Trust, Very Special Arts, Artists for Human Rights Trust, Durban Art Gallery Advisory Board, African Art Centre and the Grahamstown Festival Visual Arts Board.

He has had over 50 solo exhibitions and was honoured with an Honorary Doctorate by the Durban University of Technology in 2009. Not that you would ever know it – he was a remarkably modest man who accepted his accolades graciously and then almost forgot about them – he was never too busy to give advice to anyone who sought it. He was always nurturing, encouraging and supportive.

As a teacher he was vastly influential – he nurtured generations of young artists who have gone on to greater things and who always lovingly speak of him as a mentor.

Andrew lived through tumultuous times in South Africa and in the 40-odd years that I have known him, I never heard him despair or complain or decry the changes – if he didn’t like what was happening he addressed the issues in an outright manner and embraced the future with an unfettered optimism. He always saw the positive side of things and looked forward to new ideas and challenges.


And yet, he was private person who loved being at home with Aidan where they both led a life of creativity surrounded by the beauty of their tropical Durban Berea home environment which attracted creatives from around the country and the world. Andrew led a good life and one which influenced many others and has left an enormous legacy.  He had high standards in everything he did and his influence will live on.

We cannot ask for more from the lifespan we are given. – Carol Brown

Andrew Verster’s wake will take place at St Clements in Musgrave Road on Tuesday February 25, 2020, at 16h30. All are welcome.