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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

MUSINGS OF A MEANDERING MIND #38 (article first published : 2007-10-7)

The rustle of spring certainly was in the air as I took a stroll through Durban’s restful and beautiful Botanical Gardens earlier this month, after having attended a thoroughly enjoyable 60-minute Baroque 2007 concert at St Olav’s Church. The guest conductor was a most delightful Frenchman, Francois Xavier Roth, appearing courtesy of the KZNPO, with a programme made up of excerpts from Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme and Alceste by Lully, and Les Indes Galantes and Dardanus by Rameau. Detailed information was provided on both composers as well as a concise CV on Maestro Roth himself – which will take its place amongst other favourite treasures in my Memory Box, in order to mark a very special day.

You see, just prior to setting out to explore the spiritual fruits of a highly-recommended new church (well, new to me, since I’m currently experiencing a sort of late-life new awakening, for want of a better description), a very dear friend rang me up to ask a favour… Having seen the fascinating panel discussing the book (and DVD) titled The Secret on OPRAH recently, and since she does not drive, she requested that I seek it out for her.

Since I’d popped into Musica after church, then dived into the CNA opposite, I was armed with this fascinating piece of reading and felt an urgent need to begin it immediately. So, filled to the brim with the joy of the music that had just fed my soul, I decided to feed the rest of me (lightly), and then find a comfortable park bench, surrounded by nature, in order to digest (!) its contents.

What a rich Sunday, full of good spirit and song in one church, followed by excellent music in another, and then the unfolding of The Secret - which, in essence, is really based on the Law of Attraction – or, as my parents were always discussing, The Power of Positive Thinking. Still, there are numerous thought-provoking quotations to dwell upon (and collect – as I’m wont to do), and although only half-way through this little book I am already full of new resolutions about leading a richer life forthwith (and not only in the financial sense!) - a life to be lived, in future, with intent, as Oprah likes to suggest we all should do.

At bedtime I decided to put one of my own recent compilations into my CD player, featuring Hayley Westenra singing Who Painted the Moon? which I happened to mention last time round. But here I must correct a piece of MIS-information! I had mistakenly been under the impression that Hayley was the first to sing this wonderful number – but indeed, on reading an article on South Africa’s own Nianell (whose name is made up of the last half of her first name, Sonia, and her maiden name, which was Nel), much to my surprise I discovered it was Nianell who wrote this fine piece! Well, this little nugget has only served to heighten my belief that South Africa indeed has a wealth of local talent of which we can be very proud indeed.

Nianell’s voice extends across three and a half octaves, she writes and composes all her own music, and plays acoustic guitar as well as piano. She only established herself in the international singing arena in 2004, three years after the release of her first album (Who Painted the Moon?), a culmination of a decade of highly dedicated work. Two other firm favourite single tracks of hers in my collection are How Beautiful Love Can Be and Life’s Gift - which indeed, sums up her philosophy on life, i.e. Life’s gift to me is just to BE. She is quoted as saying she believes she’s been blessed with a voice which can be used to convey a message, and it’s her philosophy that we all have a responsibility to encourage and motivate one another. Hear, hear, say I to that!

Another local lass who’s made good is blonde bombshell, Patricia Lewis, who’s been performing for twenty years and singing in Afrikaans for ten. Apart from her indisputable singing ability, she displayed talent in a very different arena when she participated in our local TV version of Strictly Come Dancing. I also applaud her for wanting to provide a break for other young Afrikaans singers in this country, to which end she’s come up with her television contest, Super-Sterre, and says she’s planning to bring out two other reality shows, one to be named Sokkie-sterre, where participants can show off their dancing skills, and the other a home improvement show for the needy, possibly to be titled Shake My Shack!

Well, right now we’re in the throes of yet another national series of Idols and thus far there’s really only one (youthful female) contestant who has so far knocked my socks off - the one who’s dad was summoned by the judges, at her initial audition, to assess whether he’d allow her to abandon her schoolwork should she make the grade in the musical world.

I’ve not been overly impressed with any of the previous winners in South Africa, though some who didn’t make it right to the top have managed successful spin-off careers, among them the three-girl group who call themselves NKD (Nicky de Lange, Kesha Charlton-Perkins and Deidre Visser) and a lovely-looking young girl who’s released an album where she’s accompanied by probably South Africa’s most well-known guitarist, namely Tessa Ziegler. It’s simply called Danielle, and one of the other female contestants from that season (namely Vicky Lalouette, or V) provides some fine back-up vocals on some of the pieces (and has an album of her own currently on the record shelves), which range from light classics to well-known ballads and some pop. Well, in a matter of weeks we shall know who South Africa judges to be this year’s Pop Idol - and I can’t wait to see whether my choice is the one who’ll make it!

In closing, another reminder to watch out for SABC3’s 10 pm Sunday night music specials, which have thus far served up a diverse range, from sublime Welsh mezzo-soprano Katherine Jenkins, to Kenny Rogers, Billy Joel, and more recently a sort of muso-doccie on Bob Dylan, Joan Baez and other folk singers of the 1960s. Sometimes worth catching or setting a tape for. Wonder what tonight’s programme will bring us??? – Bev Pulé




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