Welcoming a packed audience, Catherine Foxcroft- Associate Professor at the Rhodes Department of Music and Musicology and the night’s concerto pianist- thanked the different contributors to the event. The opening pieces were extended to the audience by the Rhodes University band. Although their three pieces offered a bit of a shaky beginning, the wit and quirk of their music promises an exciting future for the two-year-old band of Rhodes Instrumental students.
Following a rendition of Adele’s Skyfall, the Band expanded into the orchestra, joined by the NMMU orchestra and conducted by David Scarr. Scarr, who studied conducting at the Vienna Conservatoire, currently teaches at Kingswood College. The orchestra’s first piece, City Slickers –a composition by Grant McLachlan- was a rollercoaster adventure for the ear. Definitely slicker than the band’s selection, the piece was sweet and tentative in parts and suspenseful and dramatic in others.
Punctuated by introductions of each piece by Scarr, the evening glided through Ihubo lika Mvelinqangi, a quartet featuring Jo-Nette Lekay (soprano), Nosiviwe Mqwebedu (mezzo-soprano), Sibusiso Mkhize (tenor) and Njabulo Mthimkhulu (baritone). Mieke Struwig delivered a glimmering Mozart clarinet concerto 2nd movement, reiterating her talent as a young clarinetist.
Along with Mieke, Foxcroft’s Rachmaninoff piano concerto No. 2 1st mvt was a standout, one audience member commenting: “It was absolutely fantastic. She rocked my world.” Jo-Nette LeKay was another recurring name on audience members’ lips, embodying the vocal ability she seeks to impart to her IMS vocal students. It was no surprise then that the closing performances of Jenkins’ Benedictus and Mozart’s Lacrimosa were an impressive summary to the concert as they featured her IMS voice students joined by the Rhodes Chamber Choir, the remarkable quartet and the orchestra.
Although the night began with a few glitches, the instrumentalists soon warmed to their instruments despite the cold night. The promise of an evening of wonderful performance was certainly fulfilled. Set against a violet-lit stage, the Rhodes Orchestra Gala Concert was a spectactular night for music.