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Under conductor Kamal Khan, the concerto went from an energetic introduction, rich with quirky rhythmic variations and melodic invention, to a sombre section with intriguing harmonies. Dissonant and mysterious passages in the strings mixed with the playful use of percussion which were the foundation for the scintillating technical display by the two pianists.

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There’s a good Friday evening buzz as Robertson stands on stage and welcomes the band – Frank Cuddumbey’s Faze4, accompanied by the glamorous Abigail Bagley. They’re everything one expects from a jazz band – professional, vibey, oh-so-cool, and between Abigail’s sultry tones and the various band members’ turns at vocals, it’s the perfect mix of voices.
And it’s not just jazz. Abigail’s rendition of ‘Girl On Fire’ brought tears to my eyes

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The quality of dancing is truly impressive considering most of the dancers don’t dance vocationally and the result is testament to the passion and hard work that has been put in by Botha and Zoutman to ensure the high standard of the work being performed. They haven’t held back in their choreography either, challenging the dancers technically and artistically with a stylized and often complex movement vocabulary.

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Special mention has to be made of the conductor and musical director of the Philharmonia Choir, Richard Haigh, whose evident passion for this masterpiece could be sensed by all, and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, which included an organ as well as a harpsichord player, creating a true baroque atmosphere.

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The acting from the young cast is extraordinary. Most of the characters are so well developed one would think it was due to the emotional journey taken over the course of a long play, not a persona ‘slipped into’ a few minutes ago along with a minor wardrobe change.

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The dark woods and earth tones in the décor, the jar-lined walls, the wooden boards heaped with fresh-baked artisan bread, and the lilting Italian music in the background all call for a slow enjoyment of these “lifestyle and leisure wines”.

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Amongst the many solo works scattered around, some walls have been given over in their entirety to just one artist. As Morris Korber explains, he and Rose enjoy creating “little exhibitions” within the main exhibition, so the viewer can see a fuller body of work. The result is magnified points of focus, giving the viewer a feel for the style of the artist; for example a wall dedicated to avid jazz fan Sam Nhlengethwa’s ‘Tribute’ series which includes a striking portrait of Miriam Makeba in his signature bold colours and simple block shapes.

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Seattle-based main act Night Beats got almost everybody out of the annexe and into the main hall of The Assembly with their soul-flavoured garage psych, which replaced some of the genre’s dreamy naivety with a feisty spirit. Having played the Austin Psych Fest and performed with names such as The Black Angels or Roky Erichson, they extended the international neo-psych network by gracing our South African shores with a refreshing but knitted-into-the-niche sound.

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Legendary trumpeter Hugh Masekela and his band gave an electric performance. There was something tangible in the air when the 74 year old was belting out lyrics to his songs. Hugh Masekela gave a performance that was more than singing, more than dancing, more than simply performing. He made us believe we were beautiful, and passionately implored, “Start behaving like you are the most beautiful people in the world. South Africa, our time is now!”

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The language in The Swell is refined, even eloquent. The imagery is colourful and some interesting devices have been employed to help create a mystical aquatic atmosphere in sharp contrast to the waterlogged squalour of the garage. But there is no rhythm.

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An alleyway in 1700 Andalusia, southern Spain reveals a small fire poised on cobblestone. Its flames cast shadows of a rich history across the skin of the dancing gypsy woman as her heart bleeds poetry across her lips and the pelting drums break open the night sky.

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The constant nervous energy of the two leads reveals itself in movements just a hair’s breadth from dance and with its arthouse-quality sound and lighting, the play feels like an art film come to life in the intimate setting of the Golden Arrow Studio. Throw in the reality of the sweat, spit, blood and tears and the result is overwhelming.

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This was the most accessible, eclectic and sustainable lifestyle festival I’ve encountered thus far. Everybody was tasting everything and an assortment of people flitted between the myriad wine stalls like boisterous bees in Bacchus’s backyard.

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In a performance that was so pitch-perfect that it could have been a CD, The Kooks outdid any expectations that I had. Highlights of their set were most definitely the acoustic version of the sweet ‘Seaside’, the audience going crazy during ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’ and the massive singalong during encore song ‘Shine On’.

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The play triumphs due to the disciplined and ruthless concentration of the actors while the meticulous set-design, gravitas of the venue and lack of an interval all aid in the creation of catatonic energy.

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What would the lovechild of ABBA and 70’s TV series Charlie’s Angels look like? Do tight pants on a man result in a high voice? What’s the big fuss about the 70’s anyway, what made the decade so great? I know I am not the only one lying awake at night pondering these mysteries.

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Sitting in the intimate Alexander Bar Theatre, not knowing what to expect from a play with such a politically charged title, I didn’t think I’d be blown away by one of the best shows I’ve seen. Created and performed by Jared Musiker, Asisipho Malunga and Londiwe Khoza, it’s a largely satirical dance-play that uses on-point humour and personal narrative to critique the South African dance industry.

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“The relentless choreography demands a high level of athleticism from the dancers – who seem to be constantly diving, tumbling, rolling, lifting and throwing both themselves and each other across the stage.”

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Scrape might be a one woman show but it is far from being a one woman production. The efforts of all the role players are delicately layered together to form a multidimensional piece.

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What sets Eclectica apart from the many minimalist contemporary galleries in Cape Town is the combination of art and carefully selected furniture. Raw leather matches the deep, rich browns in Matthew Hindley’s Forrest series of paintings, while a brightly coloured couch parallels the quirky styles of Marna Hattingh and Norman O’Flynn. All the furniture complements the art, highlighting the underlying tones of the paintings or key aspects of the works.

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Cue thoughts of “Where am I, what happened and why the heck are there cows in my house?” crossing the minds of many before they realized they were on a farm, in a tent… and seeing Biffy Clyro live in less than 12 hours.

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“Jaco Bouwer’s Orfeo reinvents the genre with a young cast in contemporary dress and metafictional playfulness. The soloists deliver strong performances, and despite the fact that there are only twelve members in the cast, their powerful voices meld into a rich sound.”

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This adaptation of the novel does justice to the book’s aesthetic, presenting the audience with an imaginary and undefined time and place, employing an evocative surrealism that strikes the perfect balance between alienation and sensory indulgence.

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Once the concert started my doubts were soon put to rest. These artists were musically assured and had engaging stage personalities to boot. The programme offered an interesting choice of works that alternated between different ensemble combinations, showcasing each performer’s abilities, as well as the interesting new sound possibilities that the unusual combination of voice, piano and marimba has to offer.

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This small, fascinating and in-depth show – which ran at the National Arts Festival earlier in 2013 – is an exploration of complex, searing emotions. Such a vast amount of personal unprocessed emotion would be hard to put into words but makes for great dance. As such, Below My Feet is breathtaking.

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Known for his influence in rediscovering and reinventing the traditional Jewish music of Eastern Europe, David Krakauer’s clarinet took the audience on a journey ranging from classical Brahms pieces to improvised modern Klezmer. He was accompanied by South African pianist Kathleen Tagg, who is known for being a sensitive, insightful collaborative pianist.

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