We’ve just come back from the City Hall in central Cape Town, where we attended an uplifting spring-time concert to raise funds on behalf of the South African Air Force Association (Cape Town branch) for economically disadvantaged ex-servicemen and women of all races who live in the Cape Town area.
The programme brought together the Cape Town Male Voice Choir, the Drums and Pipes of the Cape Town Highlanders, and the South African Navy Band, as well as soprano Beverley Chiat, tenor Matthew Overmeyer and organist Victor Tichardt. The Master of Ceremonies for the evening was Lesley McKenzie of Fine Music Radio.
When we arrived at the Grand Parade, we were ushered to a parking spot by neatly uniformed Air Force personnel. Once inside the hallowed halls of the venerable old City Hall, we quickly found ourselves front row seats on the balcony upstairs, from where we had the best views in the house. I was sorry to see that the concert had not sold out – there were still plenty of empty rows at the front. By rights, and given such an amazing line-up of talented performers, the auditorium should have been solidly jam-packed!
The Concert started with a stirring performance of the National Anthem, with the Navy Band on stage together with the CT Male Voice Choir, and the entire audience on its feet, singing along with great passion and patriotism. It gave one goosebumps, and made one feel incredibly proud to be a small part of this event.
The first act was the 33-man-strong CT Male Voice Choir, whose deep and melodious voices filled and resonated throughout this beautiful space. They were followed by soloists Beverley Chiat and Matthew Overmeyer, later joined by the Choir. Both have the most extraordinary voices, but I think the microphones were set too loudly, as it caused too much echoing, which distracted from their singing. In the background, we could vaguely hear the bagpipes warming up, which was also a little distracting.
Then it was the turn of the Cape Town Highlanders, led onstage by Pipe Major Charles Canning, who introduced all the pieces they chose to play tonight. They sure are an imposing presence! And their powerful performance certainly drove home the point that bagpipes and drums in such an enclosed space could definitely be regarded as a weapon of war! Strictly speaking, even just two or three bagpipes would have been perfectly sufficient – but I think there were fourteen, if I counted correctly. Even with ears half-closed (to appreciate the music more!), my ears were still ringing and a little tender by the start of interval. They definitely did not need any microphones or loudspeakers.
In the second half, the SA Navy Band under the leadership of Commander Kenny Leibbrandt, took to the stage. And MAN, are they GOOD! Their performance is always so smooth, effortless and polished, that it is no wonder that they are so popular! One of the most entertaining parts of their show is when two band members run onto the stage in Zulu regalia, to do an African-style dance while the band plays a medley of Johnny Clegg songs. They always pick a couple of people from the audience to join them on stage for this, which is a lot of fun – well, perhaps more for us as spectators giggling at their antics from a safe distance! 🙂
Towards the end of the concert, they were joined by the CT Male Voice Choir and the soloists for a couple of pieces, including ‘Amigos para siempre’ and ‘You raise me up’.
Finally, the CT Highlanders marched onstage again to a rousing rendition of ‘Scotland the Brave’, and then it was time for the grand finale, involving all the performers: a goosebump-inducing, lump-in-the-throat, and tears-in-the-eyes performance of Highland Cathedral.
This was followed by a couple of thank-you speeches and, because the audience demanded it so enthusiastically with stomping feet, a repeat performance of Highland Cathedral. And only then were we willing to depart for home, still on a total buzzing high from a fantastic night out. Let’s hope there’ll be more concerts like these!