Last night I returned from the Hermanus FynArts Festival, having spent six days of the Festival ten-day period enjoying a feast of a fine Festival! I have experienced Festivals in my time, but never for so long a period, and none so extensive in content as the Hermanus FynArts Festival. I cannot wait for the 2017 Festival, to be held from 9 to 18 June 2017!
The organizers, led by Festival Director Mary Faure for the fourth year running, put together a programme of 150 events, very few overlapping. It meant that the attendees were spread across Hermanus and neighboring Onrus, and churches played an important role as event venues, some big enough to accommodate up to 500 Festival-goers. The Hermanus Municipal Auditorium hosted many of the events. There was ample parking at all venues. This benefited art galleries (there are many of these in Hermanus), coffee shops and restaurants, and shops as well, for shopping and eating in-between Festival events. For each topic, a Festival committee member was responsible for the events. Volunteers assisted in welcoming attendees at the beginning of each event, and in answering any questions.
While it was impossible to attend all the events which had been organized as part of the Hermanus FynArts Festival, I tried to attend as many events in the programme as possible:
The music programme consisted of light as well as classical music. I attended the following:
# Artist Louis Jansen Van Vuuren, mainly based in France, is a poet too, and he read poems from his anthology in English, Afrikaans, and even in French. He was accompanied on piano by Niël Rademan, either tinkling the keys, or singing some of Louis’ poems, which he had set to music.
# My favorite composer is Handel, so ‘Handel in the Drawing Room‘ was a definite booking. Erik Dippenaar leads the baroque group Camerata Tinta Barocca, but he used a selection of other artists to perform Handel’s music, which would have been performed in 18th century domestic concerts. Countertenor Nick de Jager and flautist Bridget Rennie Salonen, with recorder students Josh Frank and Claudia Walters, were part of the ensemble, Erik playing the harpsichord.
# ‘Wat ek wou sê‘, a performance of Afrikaans poems by leading writers, including Breyten Breytanbach, Ingrid Jonker, and NP Van Wyk Louw, written and sung by Laurinda Hofmeyer, and supported by Schalk Joubert on Bass Guitar, Kevin Gibson on drums, and Mabet Van Wyk background singer.
# A personal highlight was Prokofiev’s ‘Peter and the Wolf’, performed by the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, conducted by Brandon Phillips, and narrated and ‘acted’ by Katlegoe Maboe. It was an excellent concert for Youth Day, with many scholars attending.
# The Delft Big Band ended off the Hermanus FynArts Festival with a bang yesterday. It is led by Ian Smith, and its two vocalists have won winner and third place in the 2015 Open Mic competition as best jazz singers in the Western Cape – Adelia Douw won the competition, and will perform at Divas Unite at GrandWest on 9 August. David October came third, and both vocalists are from the Delft Big Band, and performed yesterday. Good news for the band is their performance with Manhattan Transfer in Johannesburg in September.
I did not attend any art-related teaching talks, but we were surrounded by Art in Hermanus, a town with so many art galleries.
# Art Galleries:
x. Space, an exhibition of the work of Louis Jansen Van Vuuren, with some ceramic decoration by Mike Chandler
x Kunskantoor, owned by Renske Scholtz, with work by Karlien de Villiers, Catherine Paynter, and David Kuijers (with son Max).
x Art Thirst, with works by Leon Müller, his 2-layer and 4-layer fish lamps attracting attention in particular.
x Abalone Art Gallery, with works by Nel Erasmus and Judith Mason
x Walker Bay Modern, an exhibition of works by Walter Battiss and Norman Catherine.
x Rossouw Modern Gallery, includes an exhibition by Bastiaan Stenis, and of cartoons by Zapiro
# Sculptures near Gearings Point
x ‘Watching the Hours’, by Wilma Cruise, a tribute to those making time to ‘stop and stare‘.
x ‘Love Alone’ by George Holloway, a 5 meter high sculpture, reflecting ‘the potential we hold inside‘, and suggests that the answer lies in the acceptance of being alone.
x ‘Stairway to Heaven’ by Strijdom van der Merwe, an infinity ladder.
x ‘Traveller’ by Jaco Sieberhagen, creating shadow sculptures from steel, and reflecting the landscape of the mind.
x ‘Assemble’ by Lionel Smit
I was surprised about my enjoyment of talks, with a back-to-university feel about them, especially those offered at the Municipal Auditorium, with a desk for the front row seats:
# FMR presenter Rodney Trudgeon spoke about ‘The Berlin Philharmonic – 100 years of recordings‘, making it particularly interesting that last year he attended a recording of Beethoven’s nine symphonies, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. He played us the last movement of Beethoven’s 7th symphony.
# A talk about the life and works of Walter Whall Battiss by Warren Siebrits was a personal highlight, having met the artist via his son Giles in Pretoria 40 years ago, the tobacconist who my ex-husband used to visit every Saturday. We bought some of the artist’s work. Warren told us that one of the highlights for the artist was meeting Pablo Picasso in Paris, and they saw each other three times. Picasso gave Battiss a drawing of a bull, in appreciation of their friendship. He told us that Jack Ginsburg has the largest Battiss collection with over 700 works, which he will hand over to Wits University after an exhibition starting in July. Lovely was meeting my former PR client Eduard du Plessis, the second largest Battiss collector, at the talk.
# ‘Food Glorious Food‘ by ‘social historian‘ Felicity Jervis was an interesting overview of the history of cuisine and restaurants, France in particular, and focusing on the King of Cuisine Auguste Escoffier. He made it permissible and fashionable for women (non-courtesans) to be allowed into restaurants in the early 1900s!! He reduced menus to 8 courses, he disallowed the drinking of wine by his chefs in the kitchen, he disallowed rudeness and swearing in his kitchens, he named dishes after some of his famous clients (eg Peach Melba after opera singer Nellie Melba), he based most dishes on one of five sauces (including bechamel, tomato, and velouté), he created a disciplined hierarchy of staff in his kitchens, and last but not least he went to his diners to ask them how they enjoyed his dishes (take note SA chefs!). He worked in The Savoy and Ritz in London, and The Ritz in Paris.
# ‘Christopher Hope in Conversation with David Kramer‘ reflected a singer, songwriter and director. David Kramer is a national treasure, quite soft-spoken, very humble, proudly-SA, a sharp commentator on the people of our country, and a preserver of its music. I asked him if he still wears his red velskoens, and he said that he only wears them in performances now, the brown ones he was wearing being his ‘intellectual look‘! He sang Kobus Le Grange Marais (from a poem written by Christopher Hope), Blokkies Joubert, and Skipskop.
# Another highlight was learning more about Ingrid Jonker, described as our country’s poet icon, who lived far too short a life for only 31 years. She wrote her first poem at the age of six years. She became well-known for her relationship with writer André Brink, and ‘Flame in the Snow‘ was published earlier this year, being the collection of letters between the two writers. She was the winner of the biggest literary prize for her poetry volume, she was described as ‘bohemian’ and a ‘rebel‘, she was part of the ‘Clifton Mafia‘ of Sestiger writers, the writers were united in the fight against censorship, she was honored by the late President Mandela reading her poem ‘The Child‘ at the opening of Parliament in 1994, and her poems were set to music and translated into many languages around the world. This was followed by a documentary ‘Ingrid Jonker Worldwide‘, documenting the international recognition Jonker received in having her poems translated in many languages, and in having her poems set to music.
I have never been to a cooking demonstration before, so it was enjoyable to attend two of them:
# Last Monday evening I met Chef Garth Stroebel for the first time, a doyen of chef education and cuisine, now consulting. Always cracking a joke, Chef Garth demonstrated making a dish of seared Norwegian Salmon last Wednesday, cooked and served with pickled celeriac, carrots, and marrows, as well as squid ink. The title of his talk was ‘Wild, Weird and Wonderful’.
# Having attended the launch of the second book about La Creuzette, the chateau belonging to Louis Jansen Van Vuuren and Hardy Olivier, in March, I was grateful to Mary Faure to obtain a seat for this sold-out demo. La Creuzette Consultant Chef Thierry Finet had come along, and he prepared Karoo rack of lamb, yellow macarons filled with a red wine, Cassis, and raspberry filling. What was impressive was that Chef Thierry was not happy with his first batch of macarons due to the local egg white mixture, and he threw them in the bin, and made a fresh batch! Chef Thierry has previously owned a Michelin-star restaurant, so his precision and attention to detail is in-built.
A Taste of France – Gala Dinner
Last week we posted about the Gala Dinner which I was lucky to attend on the first day of my Hermanus FynArts attendance, held last Monday at Benguela Cove outside Hermanus, lucky because I obtained a seat via Mary Faure despite the dinner having been sold out, and lucky to meet owner Penny Streeter for the first time, also owning one of my favorite restaurants Benguela on Main in Somerset West. Her Chef Jean Delport from the restaurant attended the Gala Dinner with her, and Gert van Rooyen, previously Manager at Benguela on Main and now at their sister property outside Sedgefield, was in attendance on Monday evening too. The cooking was done by La Creuzette’s Chef Thierry Finet and Hardy Olivier, with support from the Warwick’s Chef School students under the guidance of Chef Garth Stroebel.
The theme for Hermanus FynArts was ‘French Connection’, and Louis Jansen van Vuuren (left) and Hardy Olivier played a large role in adding the French flair to the Festival. They were involved in a Festival event almost daily, working tirelessly for the enjoyment of others.
I enjoyed excellent meals at local restaurants: newly opened Source owned by Chef Warwick Taylor, Betty Blue Bistro owned by Celia Rabie, and a Tapas and wine-paired Tasting with JC and Carolyn Martin of Creation. Blogposts will follow about Source (their soft-baked meringue right) and Creation.
Last but not least, a huge thank you to Honey and Barbara of The Right Room for their hospitality, welcoming me ‘home’ every evening, and wanting to hear all about the events I had attended.
More photographs and information about each event I attended are on my Facebook page.
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.whalecottage.com/blog Tel 082 55 11 323 Twitter: @WhaleCottage Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein