Checking in with artist Nataniël about his performance schedule these next few weeks/months, he is ending his year on an explosive note with three huge productions all starting or being performed in one week. DIANE DE BEER gives an overview of the festivities ahead:
Those who don’t know about Nataniël’s classical training and studies might be surprised to hear about Die Smitstraat Suite, an oratorium and lifelong ambition of this prolific composer of especially pop songs.
And as he explains it, this 80-minute-long composition consists of a few of his songs not yet recorded, combined with original music. “It will be presented as one musical piece inspired by the classical oratorium, or in some instances,suites,” he explains. The complete work includes nine compositions sung in English and Latin with the unique Nataniël touch – original stories in Afrikaans.
He knows what he is doing could be seen as old school, but in his mind, he is creating something that will last and can be performed through the ages.
Explaining the music, he describes it as filmic, done in an almost world music style.
Some of us who saw his recent performance of the Sanctus at the Arena which he performed with the Akustika choir and his regular musicians (Charl du Plessis, piano; Juan Oosthuizen, guitar; Peter Auret, percussion; with the addition of Ockie Vermeulen, organ), had a glimpse of what’s to come.
Once the piece is finished, every note is scored and he views this as Opus 1 in his life … and perhaps a hint of things to come.
If you were wondering about the name, he wanted to use a surname/name that wouldn’t have any one connection with anyone!
The appealing note in all of this is the fact that even though in most people’s book an oratorium means a very specific thing, Nataniël will make it his own.
Even when trying to explain the concept, he comes up with descriptions like a “framework with stories” or, said differently, “a reason and place for the following composition”.
He also notes that it is a piece of music with text which has no other purpose. For him though, it is something that will hold, not just disappear into thin air, and that makes sense of his artistry.
The concert has an age restriction of 14; it’s 80 minutes long and, warns the performer: phones that ring might lead to violence. I would heed the warning.
October 1: Potchefstroom, Aardklop; Ticketpros.co.za
9 October: Affies, Aardklop Aubade; 11am and 3pm.
His annual Christmas season, this year titled Six in a Boat has moved from December to October.
“I hate the festive corporate bookings,” notes Nataniël. It sometimes means that the shows are packed with people who have to be there rather than want to, he feels, and he prefers audiences who come by choice. Who wouldn’t?
The story was inspired by the visuals of people packed in a boat. Are they refugees. Holiday makers, fishermen or lifesavers?
It’s not as if we can ignore the elephant in the room, he points out. The world is at war.
He cannot understand how and why we tolerate dictatorships and wars? Why do people allow these things to happen? That’s the issue of the day – and the storyt of our time.
He is also hoping to be more extravagant visually. “I miss Emperor’s,” he says referring to his annual spectaculars for many past years. They will be three musicians and three singers (including Dihan Slabbert and Nicolaas Swart.
But he reminds us that there is only so much visual acrobatics the Atterbury Theatre can support. “If we should do a set, the cast won’t make it onto the stage.”
But there will be extra magic with the lighting and past experience has me excited. I know what he can achieve on a dime and with his imagination. He says all the music has been composed and scored but he will be busy writing stories until he steps onto stage. As seen here, his time is limited or limitless, depending how you view it.
Booking at Atterbury Theatre from October 11 to 16, Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7pm and Sunday at 3pm
No interval; no cell phones; no short pants; no children under 15; no drink in the auditorium; bar closes 15 minutes before the performance.
And finally, there’s the latest lifestyle television series with the two Le Roux brothers titled Nataniël. Erik. Wolf.
A Nataniël production or television season often starts with a book and this time was no different.
It was a thick forgotten folder packed with illustrations by the French artist, Gustave Doré.
He had so loved the drawings that he ordered the book and was completely captivated. The sketches also transported him back to his childhood and fairytales, as well as the desire to research and discover the original stories – untouched by commercial publishers and filmmakers.
Then he invited designers and artists – South Africans and Europeans – to participate in this fantastical season.
Following the past few years of the pandemic, Nataniël and his team returned to his favourite European city, Nantes, also the home of his brother Erik, for the first time in three years.
This time Erik sourced a centuries old workshop on the estate of an eccentric mansion and in-between the trees of a lush green forest, the new season flourished. “It looks like the kind of place where Gepetto has just finished carving Pinnochio,” he says.
Food, art, design, books, stories and beautiful music form the foundation of the series and pianist Charl du Plessis joined the group and is featured in many episodes and situations – some musical, other not.
Original Nataniël compositions were developed into a soundtrack and the siblings are holding thumbs that viewers will join them to relax, laugh constantly, cook generously, gravel adventurously, ask questions, address issues, find inspiration and get carried away by the deliciousness of it all, once a week for a few months.
How can we not?
From October 15, Sunday nights at 8pm on KykNet, with rebroadcasts during the week.