Online concert series of art songs a conversation starter

Makudupanyane Senaoana performed on Wednesday 7 October.
Makudupanyane Senaoana performed on Wednesday 7 October.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The Songmakers’ Guild again proved this old adage to be true with the recent launch of its online concert series called Songmakers@Home via Quicket.

Dedicated to the performance of art songs by Cape performers for Cape audiences, the guild usually organises live concerts every three months to ensure the longevity of this musical genre.

The Covid-19 lockdown restrictions, however, derailed these plans.

Queue Songmakers@Home – a series of eight episodes featuring pianist Albie van Schalkwyk and top South African classical music artists – recorded in Van Schalkwyk’s music room at his home in Mowbray, each one-hour long production showcases a different guest singer performing his or her favourite repertoire of songs.

Artists were asked to choose songs from different categories, including a German art song, an art song from South Africa (any language) and a love song.

According to Christine Bam, a mezzosoprano for Cape Town Opera and the media liaison for the guild, what is fun about these online episodes is that Van Schalkwyk and the artist also discuss the art songs performed – where it is from, what it is about and why it holds special meaning for the singer. An art song is a vocal music composition, usually written for one voice with piano accompaniment, and usually in the classical art music tradition.

“What is special about this series is that it makes the art song genre accessible to all – both lovers of the genre as well as those wanting to try out this repertoire for voice and piano for the first time,” Bam says.

A new episode is scheduled to go live on Quicket every two weeks until just before Christmas. Each episode remains available on-demand for another two weeks following its release date.

Episodes one, two and three ­– featuring Minette du Toit-Pearce, Lente Louw and Makudupanyane Senaoana, respectively – have already aired on Quicket.

Tickets for episode three, which first aired on Wednesday 7 October, is available until Wednesday 21 October.

Senaoana, a gifted tenor who just won third place in the Giovanni Consiglio International Opera competition, says his favourite song performed on episode three is named “Pampamapa”, and is written by Carlo Guastavino.

“The song is in the style of the ‘huella’, which is an Argentinian dance and is extremely romantic. I will also be presenting one of my own compositions, Lerato la mme (A Mother’s Love),” says Senaoana.

The rest of the online line-up will include Dónal Slemon (Wednesday 21 October), Janel Speelman (Wednesday 4 November), Violina Anguelov (Wednesday 18 November), Barend van der Westhuizen (Wednesday 2 December) and Louise Howlett (Wednesday 16 December).

Online tickets are R60 each. Bam says, considering the high calibre of the artists performing, the ticket price represents incredible value for money.

  • For more information, visit the Songmakers Guild Facebook page. To book, visit https://www.quicket.co.za.

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