A WORD ABOUT OUR CONDUCTOR
We members of the Symphony Choir of Cape Town have had the privilege of being under the direction of Alexander Fokkens for the past six (?) years. During that time we have seen the maturing of a gifted young musician into a conductor of the finest calibre. His initial youthful impatience and frustration with singers, some of whom were not committed to practising their notes at home between rehearsals, or others who felt they had sung some of the works at previous concerts and therefore had no need to work afresh at the notes, I personally found understandable. It has been quite remarkable to witness and experience how the professional Alexander has faced these unneccesary time-consuming challenges, and, how he has come to handle these frustrations with a sensitivity towards the choir as a whole, is laudable.
During the choir’s final rehearsals for both Carmina Burana in Octoober 2011 and now Frostiana, we have had the joy of witnessing Alexander at work with the UCT Wind Band – a group of +/-50 studenst at the UCT College of Music who have accompanied us in these works.His painstaking way of enabling each instrumentalist to tune his or her instrument to perfect pitch is fascinating to observe. His empathy as a person together with these young musicians, at one with them in their quest for the making of the music, is evident in the very way he coaxes them to achieve the sounds he is wishing for, tempering his occasional admonishings with sparkling bursts of humour.
Music is not only of instruments and sounds and synchronicity with the complexities of a score, but it is deeply of the human soul, of the spirit. It is of the heart, of the rhythm of the heart-beat, the rhythm of all life. We all need to belong, to feel an inner spiritual connectedness with the other, to sense a harmonising of lives, enahancing our wellbeing and wholeness as individuals in community. Music involves the performer and the listener in a connectedness that fathoms our human withinness. And therein lies the secret of Alexander’s effectiveness as a conductor. He has an innate awareness of what music is about in the grreater scheme of being alive. Therefore the intensity and integrity of his way of training and rehearsing a choir and instrumntalists towards achieving a performance that creates community, creates belonging…..indeed, manifests love.
It is a huge privilege to belong to a choir under such inspired leadership. Hopefully our public performances will inspire others to join.