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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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He doesn’t care much for an audience, only really to sing. And play. He performs songs he loves, and you’re welcome to listen. Or not. The songs don’t care.

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“Participating artists have been challenged to deliver work that uses the written word to find meaning in our daily lives. The results – mostly photography, text and mono-print – depict and analyse the reality that as human beings, we live our lives following rules of conduct, both spoken and unspoken.”

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My partner in adventure announced it a triumph before they’d even started singing. As my first opera, I thought it sensible to tag along with someone who could tell me what on earth was going on. But in fact the story was a cinch, the set was superb and the singing was sublime. I hardly needed the tears coursing down my friend’s cheeks to tell me that Die Entfuhrung aus dem Serail was a massive success.

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Groove Armada has been around for 15 years. For the majority of clubbers, that’s more than half their lives.

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Haskell’s leading lady Rianie Strydom ­ one of the country’s leading female cellarmasters ­ was charmingly down to earth, and described her participation with UnWined as a chance “to utilize the business input of my experience as sommelier”.

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The festival was a hugely fun combination of all things French with all the joys our Winelands has to offer. I certainly won’t be letting my red beret gather too much dust: I’ll be needing it again for next year’s event.

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Nutini’s boyish allure along with his bluesy voice made every song a tantalising experience. The backup singer and drummer, despite being new on stage with Nutini, were absolutely on point, and the band as a whole created an overall sound that was nothing if not elegant, complimenting Nutini as he poured out his soul.

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Improv comedy is raw and spontaneous, but can at any time descend into a messy heap. One performer may corpse leaving his co-stars to salvage the scene, but with The Long Shots, the feeling is that this would be unlikely. This is a team where each of the members displays a distinct sense of comfort with the next, allowing an effortless flow of elements and details to creep into scenes riddled with captivating mental and physical gymnastics.

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When I first heard of Conrad Koch I feared he may be an imperfect rip off of the internationally-known Jeff Dunham. I was pleasantly surprised at how wrong I was.

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An extraordinarily humble performer, Paige Mac, along with her bassist Garry van Vuuren, captured the crowd with her shy charm and knowing smile. Her resonant voice and multiple octave range is reminiscent of Adele, albeit an acoustic, African Adele.

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The subtle exterior of brightly coloured walls that mirror the colourful houses of the nearby Bo Kaap is paired with a simple red carpet and one lone bouncer at the door.

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Naturally one cannot take a glass of whisky out of the festival, but you can hardly down a glassful either. The door guard’s solution? Go to the toilet and throw it down the sink. It somehow took the glamour out of the occasion. To recap: go early, sign in for all the cool events, and don’t leave with a single drop in your glass. And if all else fails hand over all you coupons for Mr Blue…

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From there our nerves were soothed by Schumann’s ‘Cello Concerto in A Minor’, with the fabulous Georgi Anichenko as soloist cellist, accompanied by violins that moved from sad, to plucky, to frenetic. There is something so heartachingly, beautifully, sorrowful about a cello. Anichenko kept the audience mesmerised and had them on their feet for a standing ovation.

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Saturday night is not just a time for teenagers to party and sneak into over 18 night clubs. It is a great time to head out to the theatre and relax to the soothing sounds of live music. With the Cape Town Concert Series now under way, I headed down to the Baxter Theatre to see the increasingly popular percussion duo FourIVTwo in action.

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The non-white-box Everard Read gallery provided a tranquil and comfortable environment for this exhibition. As for the work itself, I would suggest the combination of this artwork and this gallery in particular for new-art-gallery-goers as it is a relaxed atmosphere and the compositions are not intellectually heavy.

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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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The Searle brothers made their mark on the dance and theatre map with their award-winning Big Boys Can’t Dance, and its sequel underlines that not only can big boys dance, but they can act, entertain, delight and astound.

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