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From the 1,000th Hill No.49 Our Orchestra

Photo 1 Beautiful classic view of the valley.



This morning, my son and I were two of about 30 people in a huge opera theatre in Durban to watch the morning rehearsal for tonight’s concert by the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra.

For tonight’s performance there will probably be about 300 to 500 attendees according to the booking schedule and seating arrangements.

In 2022, South Africa has a population of 60,756,135.

This makes us among the most privileged people in the country to have listened to these most amazing world class musicians play the music they love, and interpret so beautifully.

As you know by now, I have been listening to the classics since the day I was old enough  to realise what I was listening to. My whole young life was spent playing in orchestras and ensembles, first with the violin, and then, after the age of 14, with the viola – until I left College at 21.

I must just tell you in passing that an ice skating accident caused me to dislocate my shoulder just before my final exams, and put paid to any ideas of playing in orchestras again for a long time.

After that, I pretty much left the viola untouched, preferring to play the guitar and pursue a career in Folk Music after teaching for a few years.

In the late 1980s, I once again put the viola under my chin and was lucky to play in the Durban City Orchestra for a couple of seasons. It felt great to have the ‘fiddle’ under my chin, and to be a part of the camaraderie of ensemble playing again.

Then we moved to the valley and it was too far to travel to rehearsals and concerts, and, in any case the “Auntie Mim and John” career took off and there was no time.

A few years after we moved here in 1992, I was devastated when this viola was stolen out of our bakkie on our travels. My parents scrimped and saved to buy that beautiful Neuner for me when I was 14, and I don’t think I will ever really recover from its loss.

A very kind friend let me buy another viola at ‘cost’ from his shop, but it’s not quite the same. However, I do manage to play the odd tune on it.

By this time of my life, I have played the viola part in many ensembles and symphonies, so, when I attend a concert these days, I find myself miming the viola part some of the time !!!!

Is there still any value in the Classics ?

I dare anyone to listen to “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik” or, as I did this morning, Tchaikovsky’s Pathetique Symphony and not be moved and amazed.

I suppose having the ‘inside’ feel and being able to analyse the music as the instruments take turns with the melodies and rhythms that echo back and forth across the stage gives me the extra thrill.

Because we go to the rehearsals, we have the added privilege of seeing how the conductor pulls the emotions and highs and lows out of the orchestra with baton and his own form of dance. We watch in awe as he stops the music here and there, and insists on a certain nuance in the music that only the most skilled of musicians can ‘pull’ out of the written notes on the page.

I am so grateful that, of all the people in South Africa, we get to hear the magical sounds of a live Orchestra.

If you live in Durban, join us. If you live elsewhere, do yourself a favour and go and watch a live Orchestra whenever you can.

P.S. I have also had the unbelievable joy of singing with this orchestra a few times over the years – sure beats a ‘back track’ !!!!

Photo 2 Summer Cottage.



Here I am now, on a lovely South African Summer’s afternoon, with these glorious sounds still ringing in my ears, sharing this joy with you.

Love, always,