While back home in Holland the elections saw the lefties and Christian parties dramatically replaced by liberals and anti-immigration parties with Clockwork Orange solutions to crime, we attended a wonderful evening with the excellent Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. It kicked off with the South African anthem and ended with the European one.
The JPO is (I heard) South Africa’s only professional philharmonic orchestra, and it performs on Wednesdays and Thursdays in the Linder Auditorium, on the Wits University grounds near Hillbrow. Tickets are well-priced at R175 (€19) for good seats at the rear of the stalls. We regularly visit, especially when Dvořák is on the menu. Marta, being a traditionalist, is highly critical of the local dress code (we’ve seen people wearing training suits, football shirts and even nightgowns) but once the lights dim and the music starts she’s happy.
Yesterday I somehow messed up the booking – I thought I had tickets for a concert including the beloved Dvořák music, but it turned out to be a night of Schubert and Beethoven. It turned out to be very good though, with the hall packed to capacity. The JPO has recently recorded all 32 national anthems of the participating World Cup countries, to be played at stadiums before the matches (I can imagine that as playing the wrong anthem is the most embarrassing mistake you can make, they must have a committee of people checking all goes well with that).
To prove the point, the evening started with the five-language South African national anthem, which had the whole hall including violinists on their feet and singing along. Then Lebo M, the SA composer who composed and sang the Lion King film music, unsteadily performed a song that will be part of the World Cup opening ceremony.
Then the classical music started with Schubert. It was a wonderful evening and to give it the perfect ending, oh Freude, there was a little of the Ludwig Van. The full orchestra was supplemented by the 63-head Gauteng Choristers choir, who after nodding through much of the first parts, finally rose and, supported by four soloists, belted out the Ninth Symphony’s Alle Menschen werden Brüder with great gusto.