The Messiah in eleven languages

This performance was very special as it commemorated the 25th anniversary of the first performance of this multilingual version of the Messiah by Michael Masote and the conductor was his son, Kutlwano Masote. Every language was used consecutively for the different arias and choruses. Once again it was music that provided the medium through which the diversity of our country could be portrayed and contained - and that because of the inspiration of one man to show how it can be done! Thank you Mr Masote!  The orchestra was made up of professional players and members of the Soweto Youth Orchestra. The choir for this performance was the Soweto Youth Choir and they were really impressive being so well prepared and well trained. My overwhelming sense was that of enjoyment and celebration. The youth orchestra members knew the orchestra parts very well and it was wonderful to sit next to one of them and see how comfortable and well they played. The soloists also sang beautifully. Kutlwano conducted with the intensity and passion that I have come to know and appreciate about him.  Mrs Masote mentioned at a rehearsal that they want to see more concerts happening in Soweto and I am personally ad idem with that wish.  

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the JPO could repeat every symphony concert in a real Symphony Hall in Soweto! Every week a different youth orchestra(because there are many operating all over Gauteng) could play in the foyer before the concert, art exhibitions could be on show for the audience and New York cheese cake and coffee could be served in a cafeteria during the intermission...(forgive me for dreaming about New York cheese cake, but it was such a discovery for me when I arrived in NY in 1980 and had my first taste of it at La Parisienne restaurant near Carnegie Hall. I had one there again last year - it's one of the places that has been there for decades with the same people working there as 27 years ago!!)

But why play concerts, why make music!!

We are currently bombarded with ominous news about Zimbabwe but also in our own beloved country with crime, corruption, racist actions from all sides not to mention the relentless destruction of the AIDS pandemic and poverty along with that. It is especially against that backdrop that this afternoon's concert seemed like a most meaningful way to come together and be in harmony for a few hours.  We can't save the world but we can make music alone and together and send the healing vibrations of our sound, whether from our voices or from our instruments, with the sole 'heart' intention to fill every space that we occupy with the beauty of that sound.

On a practical note for fellow violinists(especially my students): we have to take extra care in our practicing to develop such a purity of intonation and sound quality that our sound will have integrity and can travel freely without any 'distortion' to have a positive effect as it moves out and away from us. Keep doing those slow beautiful scales and listen to every note and make sure we do what we would like to hear and therefor like what we do.

Happy practicing!


Zanta Hofmeyr