The end of an eventful year for the Friends of Orchestral Music is fast approaching. And what a year it has been! We have been able to present to our members a wonderful soirée early in the year, we have totally revamped our Constitution, we have put the Friends of Orchestral Music Trust on a firm footing, we have shown some moderate growth in the membership of the Friends but with a distinct enthusiasm for the activities of the Friends that is emerging. And then, almost as the cherry on the top, we hosted a very memorable Gala Concert at the City Hall on 4 December 2014.
The critics have been lavish in their praise of the programme, the conductor Martin Panteleev and especially our soloist Benjamin Schmid. Indeed, of the latter Pieter Kooij writes in Die Burger: “In the third work on the programme, the Viennese violinist Benjamin Schmid performed as the soloist in Paganini’s 1st violin concerto in D major. This highly virtuoso concerto has a number of beautiful melodies, but it is the virtuoso demands on the soloist that make it so breathtaking. Schmid is known as one of the great violinists of the 20th century and his performance of this concerto completely confirmed this honour accorded him. He mastered the very difficult bravura with finesse and seamlessly balanced it with the lyrical aspects.” And in the CPO Newsletter the following appears: “Benjamin’s Schmid’s Paganini Violin Concerto, and its cadenza, will live in our minds for years.” High praise indeed! The Friends were extremely fortunate to have Benjamin Schmid agree to play at the concert, despite the fact that because of a jam‐packed schedule he only arrived in Cape Town late on Tuesday 2 December, took part in rehearsals on the Wednesday and Thursday, and departed for Europe immediately after performing at the concert. We are deeply indebted to him and trust that he will agree to come back again soon. He is a superstar of the violin. And we should not forget the inimitable Peter Klatzow who specially composed the piece entitled “Congratulations!” that opened the evening and set the scene for what was to follow. His music was a joy to listen to and was rapturously received by the audience!
Another feature of the evening was the announcement of two donations of R100 000 each to the orchestra: one from the Friends itself and another from Dr Axel Horvath of Würzberg, Germany, something I already mentioned in the previous newsletter. We are very grateful to Dr Horvath for his contribution and applaud his generosity.
When I look back at all the arrangements that were required to make the concert happen, I take great pride in the role that the Committee played in ensuring its success. The City Hall was festively adorned for the occasion, the programme reflected some of the past glory of the orchestra in little photographic vignettes, and the post‐concert reception, although packed to the rafters, had a vibe that was everything that we had hoped it would be – celebratory, festive and a tribute to music and the orchestra. Nothing was left to chance: we even considered the possibility that the current round of load‐shedding might mar the evening and one of the members of the FOM Committee, Norbert Furnon‐Roberts, generously sponsored the purchase of battery‐ operated music stand lights for the entire orchestra. In particular I have to thank all our sponsors, the Rolf Stephan Nussbaum Foundation, Naspers, the Graham and Rhona Beck Foundation, The Table Bay Hotel, RE/MAX, Graham Beck Wines, Pam Golding Properties, KMH Architects and AV’s Flowers and Gifts for their very generous sponsorship without which the concert could not have taken place.
One of the lessons of the Gala Concert is that with a growing FOM membership and the artists we hope to attract, we will have to find a concert venue that will be able to accommodate a greater number of people than the City Hall. Artscape is a logical alternative but the acoustics for concerts are simply not up to the same high standard of the City Hall. FOM has therefore decided to launch a project to provide an acoustic or orchestral “shell” to be specially designed by acoustic engineers taking the parameters of the Artscape stage into account, significantly to improve the sound quality and thus make it suitable for orchestral events. The funds that will be required to make this project a reality will probably be in the region of R1 million. I am sure that the membership of the Friends will generously contribute to this project and the Treasurer will open a dedicated account for this purpose. Contributions marked “Shell” can be made by EFT into the FOM account (Account Name: Friends of Orchestral Music; Standard Bank, Rondebosch; Branch: 025009; Account No: 071 03 1146) and the payment advice sent to Dave van Reenen at email@example.com. Cheques may posted to him at 23 Oxford Road, Wynberg 7800.
Plans are already underway for the FOM Soirée at Old Mutual House on Sunday 8 March 2015 and you should please diarise this date. It will be of the same high standard as last year with a number of the best artists in Cape Town and Stellenbosch who will be performing. Also to be diarised is Thursday, 19 November 2015 for the next FOM Gala (which will this time be part of the CPO symphony series). At the moment I am not in a position to indicate who the artists will be save to say that they will be significant names on the international concert calendar.
All that remains for me is to thank you for your support of FOM during the past year and for your continued support in future. As you know, the FOM membership fees are being increased and a membership application form which contains all the relevant information is attached. Please provide us with the completed forms and proof of payment as soon as possible. I would also ask you to encourage as many of your friends as you can to join the Friends of Orchestral Music. Let’s see whether we can reach 1000 members by the end of the 2015!
May I wish all of our members who celebrate Christmas a very Happy Christmas and to everyone a Happy New Year.
Best wishes and enjoy your music!
“Where words leave off, music begins.” ― Heinrich Heine