According to WH Auden the only way to spend New Year’s Eve is either with friends or in a brothel. Otherwise when the evening ends and people pair off, someone is bound to be left in tears. I beg to differ. I can think of no better way to greet a new year and reminisce about a year past than in the lustrous surrounds of Nederburg Wine Estate in the company of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.
So there we were on the advent of 2012, with not only the CPO but also the multi-award winning South African artist Judith Sephuma and the international tenor Edmondo Rahme. The event was well supported by wine and music enthusiasts alike and the ambience was brimming with good cheer and festivity as over 1500 people filled the grounds with their picnic baskets, chairs and blankets.
Conductor Richard Cock was as always the perfect host and the unassuming star of the evening, blithely interacting with the audience to create a relaxed and intimate atmosphere in between leading the orchestra and soloists under his experienced baton.
The festivities kicked off with the triumphant and cheeky Festive Overture of Shostakovich before Judith Sephuma made her first appearance for the evening with the well-known song A Cry, a Smile, a Dance (also the title of her 2001 album). Sephuma’s jazzy and sultry voice enticed the palates of the audience like a good red wine, leaving us thirsty for more.
Edmondo Rahme’s performance was a highlight of the evening. As an internationally-acclaimed tenor he was able effortlessly to connect with and engage the audience with his rich and graceful voice.
The immaculate performance of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra demonstrated their mastery of a variety of genres and styles. Orchestral favourites like the Radetsky March of Strauss and the Slavonic Dances of Dvorak were alternated with popular works including Queen’s We Will Rock You, though my favourite was Bizet’s Suite from Carmen which was especially moving and powerful. (This work features on an upcoming CD by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra which is soon to be released – a must buy for 2012.)
The audience, under the vigilant direction of the conductor’s iPod, counted off the seconds to midnight before a hearty chorus of the Fantasy of Old Lang Syne by Holcombe. Everybody then grabbed their brown paper bags, courtesy of Church’s Chicken, in wait for Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. The New Year was christened with the audience imitating the climatic volley of cannon fire by exploding their air filled paper bags, under the firm baton of the endlessly energetic Richard Cock.
A great way to start the New Year – one in which we have much to look forward to. First on the calendar in 2012 is the sixth Cape Town International Summer Music Festival, from 21 January until 26 February. See you there!
Andra le Roux-Kemp
The Nederburg New Year’s Eve Spectacular featuring Judith Sephuma and Edmondo Rahme with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra took place at Nederburg Wine Estate on 31 December 2011.