It’s an exciting year for music on the Festival’s Main stages as Featured Artist Neo Muyanga leads the charge through a programme filled with tradition, innovation and experimentation.
Muyanga’s solo work, Solid(T)Ary Work, promises a survey of the tradition of protest song in the global south: moving swiftly between the chanted chorales of Soweto and Salvador to the laments around the squares of Tahrir and Meskel, the presentation is a musical contemplation of modes of resistance in a world hit by flux. Muyanga will also present a collection of songs and music through a trio comprising Andre Swartz, Peter Ndlala and Eastern Cape-born artist Msaki.
Msaki, recently nominated for a South African Music Award (SAMA), also performs with her band the Golden Circle in PLATINUMb HEART, an exploration of trauma and its ability to ossify, alienate and elude one into thinking one is coping. “The heart merely becomes numb as we move on to the next #trending issue without a chance to mourn or the time to heal,” says Msaki.
THE STANDARD BANK YOUNG ARTIST FOR MUSIC in 2017, Abel Selaocoe, celebrates a much-anticipated return visit to South Africa after an extended time spent playing on top international stages. Abel’s Festival offering will explore the virtuosity of the cello and his diverse musicianship ranging from Debussy’s poetic and vivid Cello Sonata to James Macmillan’s spiritual reflective music – ending with foot stomping klezmer and African style inspired pieces. Catch him on the 5 and 6 July only.
Off the back of the release of their debut number 1 charting collaboration, Kahn Morbee and Karen Zoid will perform on one night only – 3 July. WE COULD BE DIVINE is a result of their new collaboration, a song-writing process Kahn has described as “organic and effortless”.
Another Festival favourite is the GALA CONCERT. Taking place on the closing weekend of the Festival this year (8 July) it will feature the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Richard Cock, with soloists Abel Selaocoe (cello) and Patrick Goodwin (violin). The CPO also presents the SYMPHONY CONCERT on 7 July, conducted by Bernhard Gueller with soloist Luis Magalhães (piano).
Double platinum-selling a cappella group The Soil will present two concerts on 30 June and 1 July. Defined as ‘Kasi Soul’, their music is a blend of contemporary township style and an eclectic mix of urban contemporary, fusing beat box and soul.
RAGTIME PLUS (1 and 2 July) is an informative and highly accessible programme about ragtime music. Presented in France and Switzerland to great audience and critical response, it’s an ongoing and ever-evolving project, which changes as creator Liza Joubert finds different pieces and new information to present to different audiences.
The debut production by the award-winning Charl du Plessis Trio, BAROQUESWING, returns from sold-out tours in Europe and the Far East, to perform in a series of Grahamstown concerts with famous melodies from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Bach’s Air on a G String and Musette and Minuet from Notenbüchlein für Anna Magdalena, among others (29 and 30 June).
THE CHILDREN’S CONCERT will be a great way to introduce children to music and the orchestra with a relaxed and interactive concert of popular classics and South African favourites. Children can meet the musicians in the National Youth Wind Orchestra, and a few familiar (or unfamiliar) instruments. 7 July.
Another inspiration to children – and adults – everywhere is Pendo Masote, a 13-year-old violinist who will play with a small string ensemble. Born into a richly musical environment, Pendo is proof that classical music has a bright future. See him perform on 29 and 30 June and 1 July.
Jimmy Nevis, whose hit songs include Elephant Shoes, Heart Boxing, Balloon, 7764, Misscato, All About It, and his breakout new single Don’t Wanna Fight will perform on 30 June only.
A journey through time and place, exploring new genres for the violin such as film and gaming music, is how Naomi Tagg describes NEOLEKTRA. “I wanted to break away from classical ideas of the violin and to present it in a light that was accessible to many more listeners than just the classical world,” says Tagg. Made up of five string players, a DJ/synthesist and a percussionist audiences can expect a dramatic show, that pushes boundaries, and disrupts our ideas of where instruments traditionally fit in. Two concerts only on 3 and 4 July.
Together with the Standard Bank Jazz Festival, the National Arts Festival 2017 presents Desmond and the Tutus and Opposite the Other in a Double Bill. Desmond and the Tutu’s have been touring their infectious shape-shifting brand of kwela-indie-punk for just on 10 years. The band’s latest album Enjoy Yourself won the SAMA for Best Rock Album in 2016.
Other highlights on the Jazz stage include Judith Sephuma, James Morrison Quintet (Austraila) Estafest (Netherlands), Michael Pipoquinha (Brazil), Marcus Wyatt’s BOMB SHELTER BEAST, Africa Mkhize and Kyle Shepherd among others.
While front man Sam Burger has, over the past years, established a solid YouTube following with over 200 000 hits, the band Opposite the Other was only founded in late 2015. Since then their star has risen fast. Their performance at Rocking the Daisies last year saw them voted one of the Top 20 acts at the festival and their first single Ride Away reached the Top 10 on the Spotify Global Viral 50 Chart.
The double bill with Opposite the Other is on 29 June, whilst Desmond and the Tutus play their own gig on 30 June.