Concert Review: Melanie Scholtz, Faan Malan, Brandon Phillips, CPYWE & CPYO

Reviewed by Andrew Wilding

Thu 19 Feb, City Hall

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Cape Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensemble (CPYWE) – Faan Malan conductor
Fanfare from “Also Sprach Zarathustra” – Richard Strauss; Freedom – Michael Smith; Suite of Old American Dances – Robert Russell Bennet
From the first note of this hair-stand-on-end, float-in-space rendition, I was reminded of the powerful emotional appeal that classical music has to anyone on Earth who is open to it. I found myself wondering again how one would go about merging the classical concert audiences to include not only the city, but also the whole of Cape Town. Conductor Faan Malan was clear and specific in his musical direction, and the CPYWE followed him immaculately. The evening was hilariously hosted by Good Hope FM DJ Carl Wastie, who had us in fits of laughter at his Top Billing impressions.
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Melanie Scholtz
Skyfall – Adele Adkins & Paul Epworth; Jump Swing Fever – Arr: John Higgins
Things heated up with stunning jazz singer Melanie Scholtz performing Adele’s “Skyfall”, followed by an irresistibly catchy swing number. What a voice – lyrical and wistful, powerful and enchanting, she has an amazing range of dynamics and emotion. The CPYWE was deftly balanced by Malan to provide a strong, sensitive accompaniment.
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Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (CPYO) – Brandon Phillips
Light Cavalry – Franz von Suppe; La Forza del Destino – Verdi
The young orchestra was outstanding, with tight entries from the brass, fantastic themes by the trumpets, and beautiful lyricism from the strings. Phillips is a confident conductor, his beats are clear and concise, at the top of his baton. I was impressed at his masterful handling of the 2/3 poly-rhythm in the coda of the von Suppe Light Cavalry overture. The soft sound-pallet of Verdi’s La Forza del Destino offered both orchestra and conductor a chance to demonstrate their dynamic range and brilliant technique, with strings like caramel, a heart-melting theme by the clarinet and flutes, and wonderful warm tones from the horns and trombones.

The Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and the Erub Children's Choir conducted by Brandon Phillips

Klatzow’s Kom Saam Met My Na Toorberg with Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and Erub Children’s Choir

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Erub Children’s Choir – conductor: Lizl Gaffley, accompanist: Keith Jenneker
A world of differences – Pamela and Joseph Martin; I believe / Ave Maria medley
The children’s choir stole the show! In my understanding, children’s choirs should be heart-warming, wise, sweet, and remind us how simple world peace seemed when we were that age, but first prize is to make us question why world peace should be any more complicated after we “grow up”! I was delighted to have that First Prize feeling, listening to the Erub Children’s Choir last night. They hit the sweet spot! Excellent presentation, good diction and pronunciation, impressive intonation, and a well balanced sound from their conductor Lizl Gaffley. They were everything a children’s choir should be – I could here them again any time.
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CPYO, Erub Children’s Choir – Brandon Phillips
Klatzow’s “Kom Saam Met My Na Toorberg” is a captivating medley, richly and creatively orchestrated, engaging to the trained ear yet playfully innocent, kind of Prokofiev in Disney Land, with a few fun quotes ranging from old Mac Donald to Sibelius. Phillips brought it to life, creating a dynamic story which highlighted the percussive alliteration by the librettist Philip de Vos.

Lord of the Dance – Ronan Hardiman Arranged by Larry Moore
The finale was a spectacular orchestral arrangement of stirring Celtic melodies, opening with a goosebumps theme in the winds, and picking up to a full tilt river dance that had the audience clapping in their seats, and required all of our restraint to avoid running onto the stage and doing a Michael Flatley stiff arms tap routine. The strings did exceptionally well keeping up with the excitement which progressed to a scarcely believable accelerando into the coda!
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Catch the CPYO’s next performance with Brandon Phillips at the Klein Karoo Nasionale Kunstefees (KKNK) in Oudtshoorn: 3 – 11 April 2015

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