... And it's nearly killed me! This has by far been the busiest festival I've had in years; and how much of a good thing I can stand, now seems to have become the sub-plot of my fight against fest fatigue. You know when a kid comes back from the zoo and starts listing? - "We saw lions, and tigers, and monkeys and leopard and ... and ... and ... Oh and ... wow and there were ..."
Check this out for the Strato Artfest zoomania days 3, 4, & 5 retrospective
In the last three days I have seen:
Fantastic puppetry - a collaboration of Paris-based puppet company Les Grandes Personnes and local communities trained to make and use stunning puppets that range in size from a fist to Goliath;
A soloist playing the piano parts of Mozart compositions - on marimba - with a full symphony orchestra behind her - Magda De Vries is a percussionist extraordinaire;
One of the country's top young sopranos performing arias from La Boheme - Kelebogile Boikanyo deserves her award as Standard Bank Young Artist Winner for Music; with a voice that has the timbre and nuance of Callas in it - my mother cried as she clapped and gasped "bravo";
A jazz trio that plugs all its acoustic instruments through electric converters that turn the sound into literal electro firefights - A.Spell - Songs & Sounds is gob-smackingly brilliant,
Two breathtakingly beautiful photographic exhibitions - Cedric Nunn capturing the ravages of apartheid and the majesty of people's survival in 1960s to 1990s rural Natal in epic black and white; while Standard Bank Young Artist Winner for Visual Art Mikhael Subotzky captures ordinary life with a kind of immediate full-colour poignancy that somehow almost makes you forget the lens;
Two mind-blowing shows where normal plastic packets have little arms and heads attached to them, so that they now look a bit like the chickens you buy from the supermarket - thrown into the air on a circular stage surrounded by floor fans controlled by a team of four people, with incredible music playing, and the controlled wind vortex turning the packets of various sizes into dancers flying and gyrating to the music with amazing rhythmic precision - and then bigger packets doing duets with a human dancer onstage - Vortex and Afternoon of a Foehn are the perfect symmetry of mankind, technology, and the unspoken essence of melody and movement, all entwining perfectly.
A hauntingly beautiful performance art exhibition that had most people in the audience weeping like babies - Brett Bailey's Exhibit A literally in the most beautiful way possible takes you into the unforgivable cruelty of colonialism in a way that tears your heart open and makes you see how a continent's soul was ripped out and how little still has changed ... real people as models like the native freakshows of late 1800s Europe - you stare into those eyes and feel;
An international jazz quintet of young SA, US, Bulgarian and German musicians - whose drummer has the fastest hands and some of the most creative stick control I have ever seen - the NY/SA collective were sometimes overly inebriated by the exuberance of their own musicality, but Bobby Petrov on drums is like watching God hammering out the Himalayas at the birth of our planet;
A film-fest documentary on the search for a shape-shifting monster some Karoo locals say they have often seen -director Nicole Schafer is a friend of mine, and her movie was quirky, offbeat, from the hip and fabulous;
A brilliant band that combines electro beats with African and Brazilian percussion - NAPALMA's groove is infectious!
And an 18-piece big band with conductor, giving a free concert and introducing kids to different types of instruments and foundational rhythm and melody. Joburg's very own mega-maestro Richard Cock is not only one of the finest conductors in the world - also directing the symphony orchestra that supported both Kelebogile Boikanyo and Magda De Vries - but he is kind, compassionate, funny and simply wonderful with children! R E S P E C T!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh and I played two gigs - one of which is probably the biggest and best live performance our band has ever given - 200 people that ranged in age from late 60s to late teens - screaming, dancing, going ballistic, wanting to know when we're recording, asking when we're touring to Joburg, wanting to know when we're playing Cape Town ... calling us back for countless encores. We played till our hands nearly fell off. Three and a half hours with two ten minute breaks.
Amazing! And Relentless! Cos like fest itself, the music and the show must go on!
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