DREAMS COME TRUEOn Sunday, 19th May – the Feast of Pentecost – the day of our final rehearsal before the performance of the Beethoven Symphony No.9 (the Choral) – I heard these words read in St. Margaret”s Church, Fish Hoek where Jean (my wife) and I worship: “…and your old men shall dream dreams…”(Acts 2.17) But, its not only old men who dream dreams, it is also young men who dream them! And one of my dreams of some sixty years ago (which has been a recurring dream through the course of these past sixty years) was to sing in a performance of the Beethoven 9th Symphony. Looking back now to those far-off days when I was a matric pupil at SACS, which was then still at the top of Queen Victoria Street in Cape Town, I remember being introduced to the works of Beethoven by the late Dr. H. Freund, who was president of the school”s Music Society. As a result of which, with adolescent ardour, I wrote this poem (in 1954!): ON BEETHOVEN
My spirit soars above the clouds where dwells
In peace the soul of Music”s golden notes:
Creator of concertos; in the world
Of symphonies most brilliant and sublime;
Whose life on earth was tempered with distress
And poverty – now free from pain and want:
Not robbed of music”s notes, deafness despite;
Who had but few to love and call his own.
Oh tranquil shade! Triumphant paths thy works
And toils have made in Music”s wonderland.
Thy brilliant streams of rushing notes and chords
Have irrigated many mortal minds
And made men marvel, gasp, and even weep.And so it was with almost heart-stopping joy that I heard Alexander announce the possibility of the Symphony Choir joining forces with the UCT Symphony Orchestra and Opera Chorus and soloists in a performance of the Beethoven 9th Symphony. From the moment of our first rehearsal under the masterful musicianship of our conductor Alexander, and Margaret, his wife and our accomplished accompanist, it has all been a dream come true. And a huge part of the glory has been the opportunity of working so creatively along with the youthful members of the UCT Opera School under their charismatic director, Professor Kamal Khan. And with members of the UCT Symphony Orchestra under our own Maestro Alexander. Hence the incredible thrill as the bass soloist – Thato Machona – bursts forth with the opening words – “O Freunde” “O Friends” Glancing around at the gathered singers and instrumentalists there was an amazing sense of belonging….of the togetherness of friends, bonded by the blessed beauty of Beethoven. Added to my dreamings has been to sing under the baton of Maestro Bernard Gueller. I couldn”t believe my ears when it was told that he would be conducting the symphony, and, in the City Hall! For many years Jean and I have revelled in the superb musicianship of Maestro Gueller, having attended the orchestral rehearsals and concerts in the Ciity Hall when he directed the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. And so, another dream come true on Monday night when the Symphony was performed before a large and happily appreciative audience in the City Hall! At one point in the symphony we sing: “Ahnest du den Schoepfer, Welt?” “Do you sense the Creator”s presence, World?” The answer bursting forth from my heart was a resounding YES!! And there were many hearts that night full of gratitude for all involved in this deeply spiritual experience; and, as members of the Symphony Choir of Cape Town, especially to Alexander for his vision and adventurousness in forging opportunities for us to perform such glorious works as the Beethoven Ninth Symphony with members of the UCT Music Department. HARRY WIGGETT Fish Hoek 22 May 2013