GSO Day Five: Faces of Afrika

Posted on January 27th, 2012 by

Gustavus Symphony at Cape Town City Hall

Gustavus Symphony at Cape Town City Hall

Two emotion-packed, exhausting and exhilarating days in Cape Town marked the end of the Gustavus Symphony’s time in the city. The events of yesterday in Nyanga and Guguletu are fresh on the minds of the members of the ensemble as the day began, once again, bright and cloudless. Friday morning was spent at Robben Island, home to many of the apartheid era’s most well-known political prisoners, including its first democratically-elected president, Nelson Mandela. The afternoon was free to enjoy the city, explore the coast line or listen to any of the many wandering groups of musicians.

Tonight, the Symphony performed its final Cape Town concert at the City Hall Concert Hall as part of the City’s International Music Festival. Cape Town’s Deputy Mayor and members of the US embassy were not the only special guests at the concert. Teachers, staff and principals from schools in Cape Town touched by the Symphony were also in attendance. What a remarkable full-circle the Gustavus Symphony has made in five short days. What great new friends.

While it was the final concert, it was also the first concert in which the Symphony was able to perform its entire concert in a concert hall. The members of the Symphony rose to the occasion and once again, the audience was not disappointed from the opening salvos of Aaron Copland’s Fanfare For the Common Man to John Williams’ Star Wars Suite.

The final full-day in Cape Town ended as the Symphony struck the stage and handed over its instruments to the equipment truck (for the 16-hour drive to Johannesburg) and a short bus ride back to the hotel to pack and prepare for the flight to the city known to all South Africans as Joburg.

The Symphony has seen many faces of South Africa in five short days in Cape Town and it knows there are more faces to see and wonders to explore as it continues its adventure in Joburg.

Photographer Anders Björling, a member of the Gustavus Class of 1958, continues to provide photos from the excursions of the Friends of Music Companion Tour. Some of his photos from Nyanga and Guguletu are included with this day’s journal.

As a side note, Anders discovered how small today’s world is.

As the son of renowned Swedish tenor Jussi Björling, Anders is accustomed to meeting people who knew or had heard his father during Jussi’s Metropolitan and Stockholm Opera career. By chance, Anders met a businessman in Cape Town this afternoon who, Anders discovered, had heard Jussi sing in Johannesburg on his 1954 concert tour of South Africa. That tour had included a Cape Town recital but Anders did not know where his father had sung. His new friend informed him that there was only one venue in Cape Town for such a performance — Cape Town’s City Hall — the same location of tonight’s performance by the Gustavus Symphony.

On the other side of the world, it is indeed a very small world.

Faces of Afrika by Photographer Anders Björling.


Comments are closed.