Newsletter 25 July 2005
Most members of the orchestra are preparing to depart for Germany, while some of the remaining members are in rehearsal in preparation for Cape Town Opera and UCT’s music department’s co-production of Benjamin Britten’s Midsummernight’s Dream. Performances of this very interesting and seldom performed work starts on August 14 in the Baxter theatre.
Benjamin Britten’s opera was written for the 1960 Aldeburgh Festival and according to conductor Chris Downeswell “is relatively small-scale as it had to be accommodated in a venue seating 316 people. The orchestra pit is also correspondingly smaller in size – but this also has certain advantages. The singers, for instance, can make more differentiation between loud and soft and can use their full range of colours – which is different from what is possible with a full romantic size orchestra.
“The music itself is scored for about an orchestra of 30 players, depending on the amount of strings, and there are great technical and virtuosic demands on all the players, especially the trumpet.” Clearly this work will be a rewarding challenge from a music point of view for those members of the CPO who form part of the orchestra for the production.
During this month some members of the orchestra are also involved in school programmes.
Soon after the return of the majority of the members from performing in Nuremburg Germany, rehearsals start for the Spring symphony season, which opens on 18 August. More details about this season appears elsewhere on our website and bookings have opened.
Fundraising for the Orchestra
“Orchestras worldwide can today only survive through the generosity of sponsors and donors. The Cape Philharmonic is no different from other symphony orchestras, with approximately 33% of our income derived from the box office and hire-outs,” writes Sue Murray, who is responsible for fundraising at the CPO.
Here are more of Sue’s thoughts on the topic:
“We are thus dependant entirely on the public and private sectors to ensure our survival and sustainability. We are very pleased that government has endorsed the cause of classical music as part of South Africa’s cultural life, through commitments at national, provincial and local level, on an ongoing basis. The contributions from the Department of Arts & Culture, the National Arts Council, the Western Cape government, the Western Cape Cultural Commission and the National Lottery have contributed more than two thirds of our funding over the past few years.”
But it is the private sector that we are trying to encourage. Corporates today generally have strategically defined social investment policies, many of them excluding the arts. Where potential opportunities exist, a good working understanding must be developed with the company so that the CPO’s business strategy resonates with their own, and there is mutual benefit in the relationship. We have laid these foundations, and are gradually seeing the fruits of these carefully crafted efforts.
Amongst our most loyal and generous corporate supporters are Naspers, Sanlam, Distell, Anglo American, Old Mutual, Vodacom, Cape Gate, Pick ‘n Pay, Investec, Caltex and the Rand Merchant Bank Fund. However, if it were not for the magnanimous and ongoing contributions from Robin Hamilton, the Rupert Music Foundation, as well as various charitable and educational trusts administered by BOE Private Clients, the CPO would not be where it is today.”
What Happens In the Orchestra’s Library?
We asked the CPO’s Librarian, Daniel Neal, the question “What happens in a modern symphony orchestra’s library?”
Daniel answered as follows:
“The orchestra library is the home of all the orchestral scores and parts. In contrast to a music library, such as the Bell Library at the South African College of Music, an orchestra library does not engage in books or recorded material. Its function, in the simplest of terms, is to make sure that the orchestra in question has the correct pieces of music in front of them.
“The current library is made up of two distinct collections. The old Cape Town Symphony’s collection, dating from 1914 but mostly purchased from about 1960, is almost exclusively concert music. The old CAPAB collection, dating from 1971, is about half opera, a quarter ballet and a quarter concert music. Although the collections are housed in the same quarters, the distinctions remain, as Artscape is the owner of the CAPAB collection and the Western Cape Orchestral Trust owns the CTSO collection.
“The function of the library is not only to hold and maintain such works as have been purchased, but to source material that is requested from time to time. Many works that are performed in the course of the orchestra’s duties are only available on hire from various publishers. The librarian must track these works down and make sure that they are hired on time (and at a good price, on the rare occasion that there is a choice of sourcing to be made!).
“In the last few years the library itself has become a source of music for various other musical institutions in South Africa. Music is hired to other orchestras, the major clients being the East Cape Philharmonic and the Free State Symphony Orchestra. As well music is loaned on arrangement with several university music departments and a few specialist schools. Choral societies and a few churches have also used the library’s services.”
Daniel has promised to provide us with more insights for future newsletters. He says “Until then, keep listening!”
The Lady Behind The Orchesra
Behind every successful symphony orchestra, there is someone who ensures that the administrative strings are held together. The CPO has as its Orchestra Secretary Ursula Badminton, who has been involved with the various professional symphony orchestras in Cape Town since 1988.
Ursula worked for the music department of the then Capab until 1991 and the Capab Orchestra until that orchestra changed its name to the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (not to be confused with today’s orchestra with the same name). It combined with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra to form the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra in 1997 and Ursula became part of its staff until it was dissolved in 2000.
With the formation of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, Ursula was once again there and has remained with the orchestra ever since. She says she particularly likes “the contact with the musicians and meeting different people.”
Ursula contributes much of her own love of music to the influence of her husband, who as accomplished organist holds the post of director of music and choir master at St Michael’s Catholic Church.
“Come and listen to our concerts – there is nothing better than live music. Music in a concert hall just adds something extra even if you get a perfect recording on CD.”