As I sat in the plush new red seats in the balcony of the restored City Hall on Saturday August 4, my eyes were as busy as my ears listening to the enlarged Cape Philharmonic Orchestra playing Mahler’s Resurrection Second Symphony under the direction of Bernhard Gueller.
Topping the list of extra players engaged for this performance to celebrate the reopening of the auditorium after its R25m refit, were eight horns swelling the ranks to 10. Some performed backstage so it was easy counting the players when they crept back into their stage seats.
Two aspects intrigued me: Did the City Fathers have a plan to keep messing pigeons out of the hall in future… perhaps by renting a pet hawk?
And how was it possible for the workmen to paint so perfectly at such a height the elaborate ceiling designs?
“Probably they rounded up some local Michelangelos” quipped a builder I asked at interval, referring to the Sistine Chapel ceiling, painted by Michelangelo between 1508 and 1512.
He described how the empty hall probably looked during the refurbishment, stripped of all the seats and with massive floor-to-ceiling scaffolding spread across the width and the length of the interior.
The result of this first major overhaul in 70 years is that the City Hall looks stunning. The mouldings on the walls, around the bays and on the ceiling have been restored and, in an inspired touch, painted white against an off-white background so they stand up and shout “Hallo” instead of blending into dinghy walls.
I got a crick in my neck following some of the decorations on the roof which looks like hundreds of spread out dinner plates running the length and across the ceiling.
The new velvety red material has also been used to add comfort to the stage seats and has brought a wonderful warm glow to the hall that it never had before.
Remembering all the fuss and rudeness to the “Dial-A-Seat” staff about the seating numbers and rows being changed, I expected to hear some concert goers moaning. Instead I only heard oohing and aahing….
Saved by the bell
One of the other pleasant things about the inaugural concert was hearing for the first time in ages the bells of the carillon in the City Hall’s tower ringing out loud and clear as we walked across the Parade.
Playing the bells for two minutes before the performance and at interval as a “call to concert” is one of the bright ideas following the return of the CPO to its home after being forced to perform at Artscape during the upgrades.
The 39 bells in the City Hall carillon constitute the largest and heaviest in the Southern Hemisphere. They were paid for by public subscription from citizens of Cape Town in answer to a call from the mayoress a few days after Armistice Day on November 11, 1918.
However, they were not inaugurated until 1925.
They have been recently cleaned and serviced in preparation for the centenary of Armistice Day and to train future carrillonneurs so the city is never again short of players.
Fortunately a set of bells can be played either on a keyboard by a competent organist, or mechanically and still sound impressive when
using 12 bells and not the full complement which would require a dozen ringers in a conventional church belfry.
On Saturday August 4, piano tuner Garth Hammer played the carillon. He would have been delighted to notice the surprised faces of concert goers who had never heard the bells before and the pleasure of those who ha
A run for your money
At Run Walk for Life in Constantia we are not only proud of our excellent runners but also our walkers. Particularly Willie Liebetrau from Kenilworth, a Great Grand Master Athlete in the age group 70 and above.
During the recent Cape Town Festival of Running, Willy not only walked the 50km Ultra Marathon in a time of 7 hours and 23 minutes, but, less than 18 hours after finishing, he took part in the 21.1km Half Marathon.
Effectively he walked 71.1km in a single weekend. Some members find it hard to walk/run 70km a month. Willy achieved this in less than 10.5 hours!
When he joined the club in 2014, he weighed 90kg but being the walking equivalent of the perpetual runner Forrest Gump, Willy is now a skinny 69kg.
On average, he briskly walks between 300km to 350km a month and in May recorded a record high of 600km… and he still finds time to play bowls.
His charming and capable wife, Shirley, a former scrub nurse and an avid practitioner of crafts and a fantastic baker of large celebration cakes, tells me Willy leaves the house at 5am to walk until 7.30am when he wakes her up with coffee.
Damage to history
One of the most moving and pertinent scenes on TV recently was Professor Nonhlanhla Khumalo’s speech about how the #Fees Must Fall students had “vandalised the soul” of her late husband, Professor Bongani Mayosi, dean of UCT’s health sciences.
It highlighted the unacceptable level of damage to property and reputation of individuals that has become the norm of protest action and strikes.
We should start protesting about the protests which cause millions of rand Randsof damage and often shatter the people being attacked.
Fighting with strangers
If it weren’t for marriage, men and women might have to fight with total strangers.