VOX AT THE NORVAL FOUNDATION

Contemporary art met contemporary choral music at the breathtaking Norval Foundation in Steenberg for VOX Cape Town’s first major performance of the year. On Saturday 6 April 2019, we presented a constellation of exquisite choral music written by five of the greatest living composers of our time.

After perusing the exhibitions or enjoying dinner in the Skotnes Restaurant, nearly 250 guests joined us in Gallery 8 for our sold-out performance WITHIN an artwork. Ghanaian artist Ibrahim Mahama’s installation covered all surfaces of the gallery (except the ceiling) with the humble hessian sack.

The musical journey, which spanned three continents, began in the United States with the lush tone-clusters of Eric Whitacre (b. 1970) whose otherworldly, ambient harmonies were set against “pillow-soft dissonances”.

His music was contrasted with the repetitive minimalism of Philip Glass (b. 1937), whose settings of poems by Leonard Cohen, Raymond Lévesque and Octavio Paz were interspersed with four items of his piano music, including extracts from the award-winning film score for The Hours, played by Clinton Claasen.

Across the Atlantic, two young Norwegians, Ola Gjeilo (b. 1978) and Kim André Arnesen (b. 1980), provided a mesmerising soundscape inspired by the icy landscape of their homeland.

Finally, we returned to the African veld, our collective birthplace, for vivid settings of poems by the late South African writer, Stephen Watson. These Songs from the /Xam, composed by Peter Klatzow (b. 1945) earlier this decade, reminded us that “being part of the heavens, we belong to the sky”.

Open Rehearsal and Norval Preview Performance

To share this music more widely, VOX held a special open rehearsal and “preview performance” of this concert programme, free of charge, on Monday 25 March at St Andrew’s Presbyterian Church, De Waterkant. Almost 200 guests joined us for warm-ups and touch-ups, including composer Peter Klatzow who provided some insights into his Two Songs from the /Xam. Encouraged by your enthusiastic response, we aim to make open rehearsals and preview performances periodic fixtures on our annual calendar. Click here to peruse a photo gallery of the open rehearsal and preview performance.

I really enjoyed the concert last night. It reminded me of my love of Philip Glass and introduced me to some new names. The Peter Klatzow piece had tonalities in it that made me almost see the gradations in the colour of the sky as it moved into night. Truly a treat. Thank you for providing such different and beautiful sounds here in Cape Town.

It was a wonderful experiment of quality and social warmth!

As part of a special partnership with VOX Cape Town, Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos generously provided instruments for both performances. The performance at the Norval Foundation featured a Fazioli F212 grand piano and also marked the instrument’s first official concert outing. Click here to visit the Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos website to read more about this special collaboration.

ABOUT THE NORVAL FOUNDATION

The Norval Foundation is a centre for art and cultural expression, dedicated to the research and exhibition of 20th- and 21st-century visual art from South Africa and beyond. It aims to create high-quality exhibitions and public programming to broaden our understanding of the visual arts. The Norval Foundation was envisioned by DHK Architects as a modern pavilion for art. Set against a mountain and vineyard landscape, it is a pure expression of form.

The Norval Foundation concert series aims to bring the very best musicians into an intimate, creative space. Hosting up to 200 guests, our vision is to create an entirely unique experience for the listener, in which an eclectic collection of music genres blends in effortlessly with a museum and gallery experience. The concert programme will feature not only the best South African classical, jazz, rock, folk, contemporary and electronic musicians, but also some of the world’s best international touring musicians.