Before I get into my story, I want to apologize that this post is a day late. To make it up to you I will double up tonight!
So, last night I was privileged enough to attend the Durban City Orchestra performance at the Durban North Crusaders. I was excited before I even arrived, because I’ve sung with the orchestra at their Christmas services before, and it’s always such a treat! The venue was so perfect for creating a family fun atmosphere. There were families on picnic blankets and camping chairs, kids running around and hot coffee on sale.
Sadly, as is often the case in Durban, the event wasn’t very well supported. Granted, the weather was looking a bit dodgy. Durbanites are infamous for bailing on events if there’s even the smell of rain in the air! Thankfully, there were a few die-hard fans supporting them, myself included.
The first half of the programme began with my favourite part of any orchestra performance – the tune up! The conductor, Lykele Temmingh, welcomed the crowd and introduced A Christmas Festival Overture by Leroy Anderson. This is a very festive piece with melodies from a few different Christmas favourites. My heart soars hearing the instruments working so beautifully as one. It might also be to do with the fact that they’re playing such Christmas music, which always makes me happy.
They played Joy To The World next, which I had a giggle about as I have been playing this song recently for lessons. My favourite Christmas carol went up next, O Holy Night, with Chloe Clarke as the lead singer. Those notes are high, and Chloe handled them beautifully, throwing in some of her usual jazzy notes here and there to spice things up. Being me, I sat there wishing it was me singing with the orchestra again, but maybe next year!!! We got to attempt a singalong to The First Noel, which was very high, so I opted out of singing, deciding it was my turn to relax and just enjoy the music!
Next up was another medley of Christmas tunes called There’s Christmas is in the Air. It had such a sweet and funny little ending after a bit of Frosty The Snowman that just made me smile. Some composers just have such a light-hearted style! They played an uptempo version of White Christmas, which just made my heart so happy hearing the beautiful violin runs at the beginning, followed by O Little Town Of Bethlehem. Then we enjoyed one called Jingle Bells Forever which was arranged by Robert W. Smith. The conductor described it, in his interpretation, as a combination of jazz and German Oom Pah music. I prefer to associate it with the Oom Pah than jazz, because really it’s just a bit syncopated. It’s quite March-like as well. But overall, it’s just a happy little version of Jingle Bells.
Unfortunately, it started raining during the interval, but that didn’t stop us. We all sat there getting damp and enjoying the music anyway! The second half started with Christmas Rocks At The Pops, followed by a beautiful rendition of Silent Night with Chloe Clarke who came out in a beautiful white number for the second half. She looked like an angel, and had the most beautiful breathiness to her voice on this one.
The conductor then spoke with us about Russia and going on the train. He told us to imagine we were on the train surrounded by grumpy Russians, freezing cold with a bottle of Vodka… not too sure about this, but it led up to a beautiful medley of songs from The Polar Express. You can’t go wrong with the music from that movie, it’s so beautiful!!!
The evening was rounded off with Once In Royal David’s City, O Come All ye Faithful, and finally, Sleigh Ride. I must say that I missed the interaction from the old conductor Russell Scott, where he got everyone to jingle their keys and join in the music at the end. It was nice to see him playing percussion at the back though! We all called for an encore at the end, to which the conductor got very frustrated and said Durban audiences are like the Springboks rugby team – they play like slap chips for 75 minutes and the pull out all the stops in the last 5 minutes. That’s exactly what he said guys, I even wrote it down! He apparently wanted us to have made more noise throughout the show. Anyway, we got our encore.
It was such a beautiful evening, in spite of the drizzy weather. All I can say is, if you’re a Durbanite, please consider supporting more shows in Durban. The musicians need bigger, louder audiences!!!