It’s time to make music in the capital city says the CEO of Aardklop, Alexa Strachan, as she gathers a coterie of classical contributors to lead the charge. DIANE DE BEER reports:
Following a critical call from Nataniël about a crisis in Pretoria’s classical music world because of the closure of yet another venue, CEO of Aardklop Alexa Strachan knew she would have to take action.
With designated classical venues diminishing in the city and classical musicians finding less and less opportunity to perform, it was time to act.
“I know that our audiences hail mostly from Pretoria and Joburg and the Jacaranda city has always had a strong classical music following. It suddenly felt as if we were being presented with an opportunity in what have been tough times for especially performers and festivals,” she notes.
There aren’t many venues with grand pianos and that was the first priority, with funding also a head scratcher.
“But I was willing to take the risk with the first show,” even before she had all her ducks in a row. She turned to classical musician Charl du Plessis and together they approached Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool with the hope of finding a new home for the birth of their new brainchild, Aardklop Aubade (morning love song) – which they duly did with great success.
Their aim is to present monthly Sunday morning concerts in Pretoria at a venue that is both familiar and easy to access. With their youth drama projects, Aardklop has forged a relationship with the school and it wasn’t too much of a stretch for them to step in as partners with Radio Sonder Grense (RSG), a media partner.
What appealed to Strachan was that music is an universal language which also broadens their base which is a bonus in tough times. “It’s always better to have more than one basket,” she points out.
For Aardklop, as for many others, 2020 has been a year of dread and disappointment which has forced them to take a long view but even more specifically, to think creatively – something that’s part of being an artist.
Their first show will be presented on December 13 in the AHS Potgietersaal at Afrikaanse Hoër Seunskool at 11am. “I wanted to end the year on a more optimistic note,” says Strachan.
With Du Plessis her classical contact and compiler for the future, she wanted him to be part of the first concert and they decided on Carols and Chords with Du Plessis on piano, Lizelle le Roux on violin and Ockie Vermeulen on organ. The focus is on specially arranged Christmas music of the past 300 years from Silent Night to Bethlehem Ster and Somerkersfees and many more.
Accompanist to Nataniël, Du Plessis is a solo artist in his own right as a classical pianist who also performs regularly with his own jazz group, the Charl du Plessis Trio. Vermeulen, who is currently the university organist for Unisa as well as the organist at the Pretoria East Ned Geref Church while Le Roux is a lecturer in Law at the University of Pretoria and also launched her first solo CD last year which earned her a Ghoema for best solo instrumental album. It’s a formidable combo stepping out for this debut concert.
They will also be joined by an Affie saxophone player, Rohan Grobbelaar (gr 10) who will perform Jean Baptiste Singelée’s Concertino, accompanied by Dr Jannie le Roux on piano.
“We’re hoping music fans will make a morning of it because snacks and wine will be available with seating in the shade before or after the 60 minute show,” says Strachan who believes these first steps will herald small new beginnings.
Du Plessis is thrilled with this new venture, excited about the future and the planning of a series of classical concerts.
“It’s also exciting to discover and explore a new space with an already established tradition. Acoustically it is sound and a beautiful auditorium,” he elaborates.
And Strachan loves the expanded gallery which guarantees good viewing as well as listening.
They hope that this will be viewed as a gift for classical music lovers.
Covid rules will be followed strictly.