It is time to be festive in Oudtshoorn – but this time with a classical music and winter twist – when the 14th Klein Karoo Klassique starts on Thursday 3 August.
Audiences can look forward to some of the country’s foremost classical musicians, music and book talks, art, food, and wine with a festival programme that offers many opportunities to be festive in the beautiful Klein Karoo until Sunday 6 August.
One highlight on the music programme that promises an unforgettable evening of music, is ’n Karoonag met die Suid-Kaap Kinderkoor en vriende (Friday 4 August 19:00). This multi award-winning regional choir, directed by Jan-Erik Swart, shares the stage with South African music legend Coenie de Villiers and two sopranos of Cape Town Opera, Brittany Smith and Alida Scheepers.
De Villiers says he always enjoys performing with a choir, especially a choir of young voices. “Choir music is where young people often begin their lifelong journey with music. For me as a soloist there is nothing more enjoyable as hearing the great sound of a choir around you, especially when it is music from you own pen.” He sings “Katedraal” and “Karoonag” with the choir.
For him, this performance is a must-see for festivalgoers because it includes music by a wonderful choir, an accessible programme, and an opportunity to see exceptional soloists from Cape Town Opera in the heart of the Klein Karoo. “All this makes this performance the logical choice on the programme.”
De Villiers is in Oudtshoorn from the start of the festival, where he facilitates music discussions with artists on Friday and Saturday where they discuss the music that is performed. “It is wonderful for me to be able to experience such a spectrum of classical musicians of this calibre together in one place. There isn’t a bad choice on this diverse programme. I think the challenge will be to be able to get to experience everything”, he jokes.
This recital is made possible by the ATKV, a partner of Klein Karoo Klassique since 2010. Gerrie Lemmer, CEO of Culture at the ATKV, says ’n Karoonag met die Suid-Kaap Kinderkoor en vriende is definitely a must-see on the programme. “Young people and choir music are very dear to me.”
Cape Town Opera soprano Brittany Smith was awarded Best Female Performance in an Opera at this year’s 58th Fleur du Cap Awards for her role in Cape Town Opera’s Le Nozze di Figaro. She herself sang in a choir and says Klassique is a valuable platform for the young voices of the South Cape Children’s Choir, because it is a wonderful way for children to experience performances in a theatre, which they are not necessarily exposed to in big cities like Cape Town, Johannesburg, Durban or even abroad.
“Klassique creates a platform and opportunity for these young voices to see if they really want to do something like this for a living and that they can make it happen if they put their minds to it.”
Her advice for young, aspiring opera or other singers with a dream to perform on stages around the world one day: “Be disciplined in your craft. Work hard and with determination but have respect for yourself and your craft.” Smith performs Mozart’s “Laudate Dominum” with the choir.
Soprano Alida Scheepers is the 2023 Young Artist of the Cape Town Opera Judith Neilson programme. She says the exposure that Klassique provides to these choir members is extremely valuable. “Exposure to professional singers and different types of music from our varied programme, working with music, learning it, memorising it and then singing it develops you tremendously. It is inspiring for the children.”
However, Scheepers says it is not only inspiring for the youngsters, but for her and Smith as well, because they see the next generation of singers, music enthusiasts and audiences. Her advice for aspiring singers: “Always tell a story when you perform something. That is why you do it. Dream big and work very hard, but never forget that you are telling a story.” Scheepers performs Le Roux Marais’ “Heimwee” with the choir.
Smith and Scheepers is also on stage on Saturday 5 August at 19:00 for the ATKV-Galakonsert met Kaapstad Opera for a programme of timeless highlights from the most well-known operas and musicals.
Jan-Erik Swart, musical director of the South Cape Children’s Choir, says recitals like this ensures that the choir members work very hard to reach international standards. “The collaboration between these musicians and the children also creates new role models for the children, who themselves dream to become opera singers and trained artists.”
“The South Cape Children’s Choir consists of members from Oudtshoorn, George, Mosselbaai, Knysna, Stilbaai and Ladismith. These young singers present an energetic and passionate musical sound experience, which is unique to the choir’s musical identity.”
Klein Karoo Klassique is presented by the KKNK, made possible by the Rupert Music Foundation and ATKV, with additional support from Le Lude, Rosenhof Country House, Hyundai Oudtshoorn, and the Oudtshoorn Municipality. The festival’s accommodation sponsors are Hlangana Lodge, Kleinplaas Holiday Resort, Protea Hotel Riempie Estate, Queen’s Hotel by Bon Hotels, Ravenscliff Manor, Turnberry Boutique Hotel and Wildehondekloof Game Reserve. The complete festival programme is available at klassique.co.za. Tickets are available at Webtickets, Pick n Pay, or the KKNK office. Available tickets are also on sale at the door before each recital. An exclusive Klassique Package offers access to nine recitals at a total discount of 30%. For accommodation options in and around Oudtshoorn, visit Klassique’s accommodation partner LekkeSlaap.