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KZNPO DIARY #2 (article first published : 2004-11-20)

After the successful concert at the Barbican in London on November 16, which featured the world premier of Phelelane Mnomiya’s Zizi Lethu! Themba Lethu! (Our Hope), the KZNPO touring company moved to Germany where they are to perform a concert on November 20 in Bremen. The touring company comprises the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the Durban Serenade and Soweto-based Imilonji KaNtu choral societies.

Bremen is a very old and beautiful city with close on 1,200 years of history. Stretching along the River Weser, it is comparatively flat and therefore a haven for cyclists.

Some members of the company have taken full advantage of this simple and cost-effective way of getting around the city. One of Durban’s talented young basses, Selby Shangu, was seen pedaling merrily along the pathways - no doubt keeping himself warm as well as fit while many others shivered in their heavy woolen coats as the temperatures dropped to three degrees and snow began to fall.

The concert is to take place at St Ansgarii’s Church. The original church was situated in the main part of the city but was bombed to the ground during the Second World War and was later rebuilt outside the inner city limits. A special stage has had to be built to accommodate the performers and seating is available for 500 audience members. The distinctive poster of the Unity Gala concert are to be seen throughout Bremen.

The touring company, which comprises over 200 members, has been housed in two separate hotels – The Park Hotel and the Marriot, the latter being situated in the city centre.

I was fortunate enough to be placed in the splendid Park Hotel, situated in a 202 hectare woodland area. Several of its predecessors were destroyed – one by fireworks in 1907 and the other during World War II.

A beautiful lake fronts the hotel and, in the surrounding parklands, the leaves of the trees are a burning gold while the floor is carpeted with those that have fallen in preparation for the winter. The Park Hotel is sumptuous, efficiently run and attractively furnished. Some of the main corridors are wide enough to drive a bus down but this humdrum comparison belies the spacious and luxurious feel of the surroundings. You almost feel you are not doing justice to the building and should replace takkies and tracksuits with magnificent ballgowns and tailcoats.

The legendary German efficiency is everywhere – you lie back on your comfortable bed, reach across to turn the bedside light off and the switch is in exactly the correct place. There are hooks in all the right places. In my room, I have something I yearn for at home – a walk-in wardrobe! Windows open on a slant so the air goes into the top of the room without causing a draught. And I swear that the toilet paper is at least 8 ply! More information on www.park-hotel-bremen.de

In Bremen, the oft-heard phrase “You are welcome” sums up the hotel – and the city’s - response to its citizens and visitors. If you are thinking of holidaying in Germany, this is a most beautiful spot to visit. See separate article in LeisureSmart. – Caroline Smart

(Written just before I loaded the story: We woke up to a winter wonderland this morning as it had snowed during the night. It is still snowing – beautiful soft flurries of snowflakes. A lovely Christmas present – and a stark reminder that we are going home to humidity and soaring temperatures in the 30’s!)

Former Durban young singing star Megan Kahtz will be performing with the KZNPO on November 27 in ”The Durban Pops” at the Durban City Hall. Book at Computicket




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