Festival over as great performances remembered awards at the festival

2014-07-15 00:00

THE curtain has fallen on the 40th edition of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

Many of the country’s top acts and a number of international performers gathered for 11 days in the Eastern Cape for the festival, which is known for its remarkable diversity and uncompromising standards. Whether music, literature, or visual art, everything on offer is a testament to the quality of South Africa’s artists.

This year’s classical music had a distinctly KwaZulu-Natal flavour, with Maritzburg pianist Christopher Duigan and the KwaZulu-Natal Philamonic Orchestra giving stirring performances. The orchestra also provided accompaniment to this year’s ballet: the Ballet du Grand Théâtre de Genève’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The festival also witnessed a number of stellar individual performances. Shomon has been playing extensively for the past few months and the hard work paid off as her solo performances were nothing short of mesmerising.

Mixing intricate piano, powerful vocals, and soulful lyrics; she has an ability to create quiet spaces while not shying away from thunderous crescendos.

The festival also gave artists who do not usually play together the chance to collaborate. One noteworthy collaboration was between guitar virtuoso Steve Newman, bassist Jimi Curve, tabla Ashish Joshi and the ever-amazing Kesivan Naidoo on the drums. Opportunities to see artists of this calibre share a stage are exceedingly rare and one of the facets of the festival that make it so special.

For those with a literary bent, the Short, Sharp Stories collection is a fantastic addition to the festival. Now in its secord year, the award is bestowed upon an author for a short story and the best stories are collected in an anthology. Every year sees a new theme: this year’s collection was titled Adults Only and was an unashamed examination of sex.

TWO Durban theatre productions, Dear Breeder and The Erl King, were rewarded with coveted Standard Bank Ovation Awards at this year’s National Arts Festival in Grahamstown.

KwaZulu-Natal musicians Guy Buttery and Gareth Gale were rewarded with a Silver Ovation award for their performances at the festival.

The awards were announced on the closing day of the festival. Speaking at the event, the convenor of the awards panel, Adrienne Sichel, described the work on the Fringe this year as “refreshingly diverse”.

“I was impressed with the diversity and aesthetics within the works”, Sichel said, but warned artists to keep their honesty and to beware of self-censorship.

Ismail Mahomed, artistic director of the NAF, said the Standard Bank Ovation Awards provide a valuable incentive for artists on the fringe programme to strive for excellence, experiment with innovation and to challenge and shift the boundaries of creativity. Other winners included: Wessel Pretorius’s production Undone, Tumi Mogorosi for Project Elo, The Ballad of Dirk de Bruin, Whistle Stop, Miss Ever’s Boys, What the Water Gave Me, Siembamba, Trio with a Twist, comedian Sne Dladla, Gavin Krastin for #Omnomnom, Machine for Living, Piet se Optelgoed , A Man Called Rolex and Robbie Collins for T hat Bushman’s Crazy. A Special Merit Ovation Award was awarded to Emsini, and the Standard Bank New Voices Ovation Award went to Giving Birth to my Father. The Adelaide Tambo Award for celebrating human rights through the arts was awarded jointly to The Bram Fischer Waltz and Cold Case: Revisiting Dulcie September.

The Standard Bank Standing Ovation Award was presented to Thembi Mtshali-Jones in recognition of a lifetime of creative energy in South Africa’s cultural life spanning over four decades. — Arts Editor.

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