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Thursday, July 13, 2017


(Richard Cock)

It was a festive and entertaining occasion filled with fine music, very well performed. (Review by Keith Millar)

A favourite event on the music programme at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown every year is the Festival Gala Concert. This year was no different as the Guy Butler Theatre at the 1820 Settlers Monument was filled to capacity for this concert of light classical and contemporary music. Featuring the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by the ever-popular Richard Cock.
The concert was sub-titled All Strings Attached and it included cellist Abel Selaocoe and violinist Patrick Goodwin as soloists.

Selaocoe is a South African now based in the UK and was the Standard Bank Young Artist for Music Award winner at the festival this year. He is a versatile musician who is interested in exploring the capacity of the cello across genres, from collaborating with beatboxers, folk and world musicians, to giving concerto performances and solo classical recitals.

He is an expressive performer who generates a rich textured tone from his instrument. He performed David Popper’s Hungarian Rhapsody and two traditional African pieces arranged by himself. He employed a traditional vocalisation effect during the first piece which harmonised beautifully with the cello. It went down very well with the audience.

Selaocoe’s second African piece, which also served as an encore, was a haunting lullaby. He taught the audience the words of the song and they were encouraged to sing along.

Violinist Patrick Goodwin is the concertmaster of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Born in Windhoek, Namibia Goodwin is now a Cape Town resident. He has appeared as a featured soloist with various orchestras, and in recital around South Africa.

He gave impressive and evocative performances of the Meditation from Thais by Jules Massenet and the alluring gypsy-like Czardas composed in 1904 by Italian Vittorio Monti.

Goodwin and Selaocoe also performed a haunting duo called Por Una Cabeza which was featured in the Al Pacino movie The Scent of a Woman.

Conductor and entertainer Richard Cock was at his charming best as he kept the audience entertained with anecdotes and quips about the music.

He conducted the orchestra with flamboyance and élan for a variety of marvellous music titbits which included The Entertainer by Scott Joplin, Dance of the Tumblers by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Emperor Waltz by Johann Strauss, Mull of Kintyre by Paul McCartney (complete with bagpipes) and the Pomp & Circumstance March, No.1 by Edward Elgar.

The Festival Gala Concert was a long event, lasting well over two hours including the interval. But it mattered not at all. It was a festive and entertaining occasion filled with fine music, very well performed. The happy audience showed their appreciation to the accomplished CPO, the soloists and the conductor with an extended standing ovation at the end. – Keith Millar