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Posted on: Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Symphonic Rocks concert at the Grand West Arena on 21 August

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I played the violin for a number of my school going years and yes while it’s not exactly a “cool” instrument like a saxophone or percussion it did introduce me to classical music and orchestras. I played in many orchestra’s and from being leader of the junior orchestra in primary school – a title I held high, to sitting in the second desk of the first violins in later years. There is something quite magical about an orchestra and even more magical about a symphony orchestra. For those of you who are not au fait with orchestras and what exactly makes up a symphonic one let me briefly explain in layman’s terms.

Most people think an orchestra is just a bunch of musicians but like any company it has definite structure and roles and sections. A symphony orchestra is made up of strings, brass, woodwinds and percussion. Obviously instruments such as violins, violas, cello and double bass form the strings; the brass section is made up of trumpets, trombones, tubas and such. The woodwind section is made up of all the instruments that you make sound by blowing air through a reed (i.e. an clarinet) or against a sharp edge (i.e. a flute) and percussion is made up with the drums, cymbals, xylophones and triangles. All of these together playing a piece of music is quite a moving experience, especially when everyone is really good and plays in time which sometimes difficult if you’re an instrument that doesn’t have many parts and needs to wait endless bars before you have a few bars to play.

A symphony orchestra is made up of more than 50 musicians and they all have roles to play to ensure the music is beautiful. Classical music I feel is not as greatly appreciated as it needs to be; especially from people in my generation and so I was absolutely delighted to hear about the Symphonic Rocks concert that will be taking place at the Grand West Arena on 21 August 2010. Say what? This is going to be a collaboration with a 65 piece symphonic orchestra and some of South Africa’s most talented and well knows bands.

Initiated by Andy Mac, front man for the popular band Flat Stanley, this concert will showcase 20 pieces of music, 15 of which have been number one hits in the South African charts. Each piece of music has been rearranged for a symphony orchestra by John Walton from the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. This is by no means an easy task and takes hours of work and skill to rearrange music (I remember my basic theory lessons where all I had to write were a few lines of music, this is pages and pages of the stuff) and for each section a new score needs to be written. So expect some magic from the 22 violins, eight violas, six cellos, four double basses, a harp as well as full woodwind, brass and percussion sections.

Now Flat Stanley won’t be the only band performing along with the orchestra I told you we were in for a treat and this is a treat indeed. Just Jinger, Louise Carver, Gang of Instrumentals, aKing and Watershed are all joining the party to give us a collaboration like none we have ever experienced. All this for only R150 per person.

When putting this suggestion out to my friends I was saddened that only one friend was really keen to join me – see what I mean about my generation not being very excited about orchestral sounds? But what I found extremely fitting is that it is my long time friend and co-second desk first violin from the Senior Rusty Bug Junior School Orchestra, Sarah, who will be coming with me. We’re looking forward to it and I know my other friends will regret not coming with us because I have a feeling that this is going to be something that will rock the South African music world and we’re going to be there for this first performance. History in the making.

I’m excited. Are you? If so get your tickets today from Computicket before they are sold out!

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Tania Stephenson


Tania loves to cook and create magic in the kitchen for family and friends (or even just herself). Be it finding a new recipe or making a tried and tested dish from her recipe folder - the kitchen is her sanctuary. Find her hanging out with friends round the braai or curled up on the couch reading the latest crime drama. With a spring in her step and a song in her heart you’ll find her supporting local artists in theatre, music and dance – from a hip hop competition or the latest musical on stage at Artscape in Cape Town. Enjoying all things culture she likes to share her experiences and delights with those around her.

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2 comments about Symphonic Rocks concert at the Grand West Arena on 21 August
  1. August 19th, 2010 at 15:46
    Jon says:

    I agree – so very keen to be there this weekend!

    While classical and orchestral music may remain under-appreciated by many of the younger generation, it is encouraging to take note of how quickly the tickets for Symphonic Rocks sold out. Many people realize that this will be no ordinary live music experience and are cashing in. Not sure what the demographic of the 5000-strong audience will be though.

    Anyway, I trust you will enjoy it!

  2. August 19th, 2010 at 15:56
    Ryan Calder says:

    Next time, bring it to KZN! :)