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Saturday, June 11, 2011


(The late Syd Kitchen. A concert in his memory will raise funds for a legacy project)

Now in its second year, the National Arts Festival’s Arena programme is a platform to bridge the gap between the Festival’s Main and Fringe programmes. More than half of the 30 productions on the Arena programme this year were Standard Bank Ovation Award winners on the Fringe last year.

The Standard Bank Ovation Award was introduced in 2010, recognising and celebrating innovation and excellence on the Fringe, by putting the spotlight on cutting edge-work that is strong, diverse and original. The Ovation Award winners from last year were invited to submit proposals for this year’s Arena programme, and sixteen of these companies were invited to participate in the 2011 Arena.

On the Arena Music programme the Grahamstown Sextet showcases a taste of the musical talent and energy that can be found in Grahamstown all year round. The woodwind sextet consists of Catherine Foxcroft, (piano) Jenny Brand (clarinet), Hilary Paterson (oboe), Boris Mohr (horn), Penny Fraser (bassoon) and Liesl Stoltz (flute).

The Clermont Community Choir, conducted by Wiseman Mkhize, was crowned national champions in the standard category of the prestigious Old Mutual National Choir Festival in December 2009, and defended their championship status in 2010. With two CD’s and a DVD to its name, the choir has also staged a number of performances in recent years with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. They will be singing a diverse selection of songs classical, choral, opera, and African indigenous music.

Last year soul singer Meri Kenaz walked away from the Festival a joint winner of the Silver Standard Bank Ovation Award. This year she’s back with two good friends, Martin Wolfaardt (Offshore) on keys and percussion, and Ben Badenhorst (Wendy Oldfield Band), providing a backdrop for her unique blend of soul-folk, jazz, and Eastern moods. The trio will be performing as Meri Kenaz & the Appropriate Context.

Guitar wizard Guy Buttery was the Standard Bank Gold Ovation winner for the best music production on the Fringe in 2010. His latest album Fox Hill Lane has been met with international acclaim, and he will be bringing his otherworldly guitar sounds to the Arena stage this year.

D-Seven: A Taste of A Cappella is a fresh, reworked and polished run of the show previewed at On Broadway in Cape Town late last year. They are back with new tunes and new members after winning an Ovation Award last year. D-Seven, directed by Irit Noble, sing, dance and play their way through a set sprinkled with Golden Oldie favourites, a good dose of current popular tunes and mash-ups thrown in in-between.

Internationally renowned, guitarist, singer, songwriter Nibs van der Spuy has been touring the world with his brand of insightful acoustic guitar mastery and poignant lyrics over the last four years. Journalists from all over the globe and predominantly Europe have cited Nibs as a fresh voice in the ‘Nu folk movement’. He will be on the Arena stage again this year after palming in an Ovation Award in 2010.

The Syd Kitchen Tribute Concert will feature Tony Cox, Steve Newman, Nibs van der Spuy, Greg Geordiades, Guy Buttery Marc Duby and Ashish Joshi. Proceeds of the evening will go toward a legacy project that will ensure Syd keeps inspiring guitarists for years to come.

Music Theatre productions includes Thari Ya Arts Productions with their debut stage performance Bubbly Bosoms, combining the performance elements of classic South African music, powerful singing voices and gripping storytelling to construct the tale of ten women from different backgrounds brought together by their stokvel membership.

Edges is a new show about four bourgeoning adults seeking simple truths in an increasingly complex world. Written by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (2007 Jonathan Larson Award Recipients). Find out just how many other people also spend Friday nights at home on Facebook. By the producers of last year’s Standard Bank Ovation Award-winning I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.

Exhibitions on the Arena include RE.SPONSE, an exhibition of works created by artists in response to artworks from the permanent collection at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan Art Museum. The Yellowwood Terrace will also host the Arena Exhibition of Exhibitions, with a selection of works exhibited on the Fringe.

Adrienne Sichel will again be the convener of the 2011 Standard Bank Ovation Awards panel. Only Festival premières on the Fringe will be eligible for nomination this year. The nominations will again be made by a panel of Cue reviewers, accredited professional media as well a select number of knowledgeable and specialist arts professionals and writers appointed by the Festival.

Bookings for this year’s “11 Days of Amaz!ng” through Computicket. Booking kits available from selected Standard Bank Branches, selected Exclusive Books and all Computickets. For more information on the programme, accommodation and travel options click on the banner ad at the top of this page

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The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The Eastern Cape Government, The National Arts Council, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, The Sunday Independent and M Net.