Sunday, August 4, 2013

Grahamstown Arts Festival Day 2

The next morning, it was back to our old friend.

Now as much as I enjoy performing, one thing that grates at me is waiting. To elaborate further, we played two pieces and a hymn in the beginning of the service.... and three and a half hours later we played two other pieces and a hymn at the end of it. The look of affiliation most of my fellow players' eyeballs had toward the pointed ends of their instruments was a bit of a tell tale sign to their slight annoyance. Nevertheless, once we were set loose on the rest of Grahamstown that day, then things started becoming interesting!

It was time to get our flash mob on, but alas, the course of genius never did run smooth. As we arrived en masse, trudging our instruments alongside us -oh, how I feel sorry for the cellos and double basses- we discovered that a jazz band was scheduled to be playing for a solid hour there before we were allowed to mob the place. Our conductor told us that we could therefore take the hour to explore and said he and the Orchestra Company's manager would look after our instruments. My first thought was Hell no! I was not going to leave my violin on a piece of newspaper in plain walkway of hundreds of peoples' feet, just begging to be stepped on. So for the next hour I carried my violin around with me while I journeyed into the white tents of Village Green.

Unfortunately, in the rush of unzipping my case on a cramped bus seat and trying really hard not to be bludgeoned by passing brass giants like say, a tuba, I managed to forget my iPhone on the bus. Oh the horror. As I ventured into the first tent I walked passed little stall after little stall, each with their own beautiful touch of creativity. Vintage, earthy and boho clothing stalls dotted the landscape of the tent, with the occasional art and crafts stall. One that was particularly memorable was the miniature gallery of an artist named Jan Cilliers de Wet. He is a painter and ah, his artworks were exquisite. I started talking to him and telling him about how much I loved art and how I wish I could break into it at some point. Interested, he asked why and I told him the truth -that I just do too many things. I noticed that he has a blog, and I mentioned that I have one too and we talked a bit about writing and art. I promised to return the next day so I could take some photos of his art for my blog.

The rest of my trip around was the equivalent of squizzing into every tent to see what was there so I could explore further the next day, while trying to keep the meeting point for the flash mob in sight. I just had this feeling that somehow I was going to get engrossed into an art display and then would hear my orchestra starting to play in the distance. It didn't happen thank goodness! I met everyone on time and then we were ready to carry out the plan. 

1.Place mock string quartet of Concertmaster Jonathan Meyer, cellist Peter and Dineo, violinist, in clearing

2.Come in from all directions

3. Wait for the signal of our conductor Eddie shouting 1, 2, 1, 2, 3, 4! as he hits his drum sticks

4. Start playing Summer, with a Twist -Vivaldi's Four Seasons' Summer, but with a really cool drum and percussion beat to it

So, first 3 steps, great, except for the fact that there weren't that many places to come from and I guess you could say we weren't the most pop in, pop out kind of flash mob. The fourth, good too, but please, if you haven't already, notice my use of grade 1 no-no words as description. It's not that we played badly, not at all, in fact we played very well, but agh, remember I mentioned that the day before we had a flash mob practice? That we were getting used to not hearing each other while playing? Well, we couldn't hear each other. The piece turned out fine, but not fantastic, HOWEVER, as we began to walk our way out of the clearing our french horns and brass sections started playing this African sounding chord progression. Feeling the African beat in our souls, we all began chiming in with harmonies and solos! Very very cool.

That afternoon it was up again to the Monument to play a free sun downer concert. The stands for the audience were completely overflowing and the reception was amazing.

That night I found out that a play that was actually here in Joburg at the Sandton Theatre on the Square was showing, so naturally myself and a few friends went to go and see it!

It was bloody hilarious! It was a one man play with a central character Sam, who is an employee at a world renowned restaurant in South Africa. He answers phones for reservations. BUT then things get interesting, because around Sam, were 36 more characters -men, women, people of different race, people with heavy accents, repeated catch phrases, specific mannerisms. It was flawless and the character changes were also super quick! 

The night was still young! So after the play we went to meet up with some of our orchestra friends at a bar called Champs. Now, I'm not a bar person. I don't drink and I don't smoke, and I absolutely can't stand the combined smell permeating to my inner most layer of clothing and into my hair, but in this case I was okay with it, because in that bar, I had the most mind blowing enlightenment with two girls from my orchestra. I found out that the one girl with which I've never really clicked with, has so much in common with me and knows about certain things that I thought I was rather alone in the world with my knowledge. Brilliant! Then, I had the most amazing one on one with a girl that I also have known for a long time, but only really had a heart to heart moment with in that bar. Afterwards I felt warmed down to the bottom of my heart. Girls, you are radiant beings. 
So glad to know you.

4 hours later and it was time to turn in for me, and time to turn out for others. See that's what was really cool about my Grahamstown experience. When I didn't want to go out for the second slot of the night that went from 12/1 onwards and included many a bottle of whiskey, they were cool with it and just shrugged. Very mature of them I might say. 

Day 2 was definitely one of my absolute highlights of the fest -thank you Champs.