This past weekend my son visiting from the U.K. and I attended the 13th Classics for All Festival in Greyton, the second year that I have attended the Festival dedicated to classical music. While we could only attend three concerts, we found the quality of the performances to be of a high note.
I must commend Roslyn Petersen of the Greyton Tourism Association in being amazingly efficient in taking my concert bookings, in finding us accommodation for one night, and in booking a restaurant for dinner for us for Saturday evening. All of this was done without a cent being taken up front, purely based on trust! I also want to commend Festival Director Coenie Visser, previously a Greyton resident, who has organized all the Festivals to date, and the last three from Bangkok, where he now works and lives! In his introduction in the Festival program Coenie describes the Festival as a ‘small, intimate and unpretentious Festival … inspire and connect people of all ages through extraordinary classical music performances, community engagement and music education’.
The Classics for All Festival is not only an opportunity to enjoy classical music concerts, but also to experience what Greyton has to offer, which we crammed into our short less than 24 hour stay in the village.
A new addition to the tourism offering in Greyton is the Old Potter’s Brewhouse craft beer microbrewery, in the Old Potter’s Inn on the main road. I had been in contact with owner Trevor Gerntholz, and he invited my son and I to come and have a look and taste his four craft beers:
# Pale Ale ‘City Slicker’, tasting like a traditional beer, with a ‘bready’ and ‘malty’ taste
#. Saison ‘Plaas Japie’, likened to a French peasant drink
#. Amber Ale ‘Rooinek’, with a taste of caramel, honey, and toasted malt.
# Indian Pale Ale ‘Flower Child’, with granadilla notes.
Trevor told us that they source hops from George and they also are imported from overseas. The beer is brewed in 400 liter copper-plated kettles imported from China. Trevor told us that the taste of a craft beer is influenced by the quality of the grain, the hops, and the kettle one uses in its production. Trevor is a passionate brewmaster, and it was a surprise to learn that in his day job he is a kidney specialist in Cape Town. He was extremely friendly, proudly showing us his small brewery, and taking us through a tasting of his craft beers. While we had lunch, we listened to the most beautiful classical music (e.g, ‘Ode to Joy’ from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony and Vivaldi’s ‘Four Seasons’), a playlist which Trevor had compiled
especially for the Festival weekend! Light meals are offered on a short menu, and I ordered a chicken liver pâté served with onion marmalade and pita bread (R35), while my son ordered Crispy Chili Beef (R115). The fireplace warmed us up on a chilly day.
We popped in at Von Geusau hand-crafted Belgian chocolates, and we congratulated Richard von Geusau on now exporting his chocolates. He offers a wide variety of chocolates, and I liked how thin they are, making it a refined treat. His chocolates have a high cocoa content, and do not contain vegetable fats nor artificial flavours. A white chocolate slab range includes plain, Café latte, and Crème brûlée. A dark chocolate slab range includes chili, masala chai, earl grey, rock salt, espresso, mint, almond and orange peel, espresso, mint, cherry, hazelnut, toffee crunch, and salted caramel. Tonka bean slab flavours are vanilla, almond, and frankincense. The Meerkat range offers Milk Rooibos and Dark Fynbos. Chocolate truffles and Chocolate Bouche complete the Von Geusau chocolate range.
We spent the rest of our precious time in Greyton attending three concerts:
# Co/Mission was an interesting title for a concert at which deconstructed and reinvented contemporary classical music was performed, with the aim of attracting younger audiences to classical music, in performing adaptations of music by Coldplay, Radiohead, and Portishead. Violinist Veronica Bell was striking in her passion for the music performed, and was joined by fellow violinist Nicole D’Oliviera, viola player Emile de Roubaix, and cellist Rina Schutte.
#. Bravo! Brava! Gala Concert was the signature concert and was held in the Moravian Church Genadendal, being the largest venue in the area. Opera soloists Minette du Toit-Pearce, Given Nkosi, Martin Mkhize, and Noluvuyiso Mpofu performed opera hits from Carmen, La Traviata, La Boheme, and more. The star of the show was clarinettist Junnan Sun, who performs with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra. He received a standing ovation for his lively performance. The Hugo Lambrechts Orchestra performed works too.
#. I am a big fan and supporter of Camerata Tinta Barocca, and try not to miss their concerts at St Andrews in Green Point. The focus of their concert was Early English keyboard concerti, performing music by Handel, William Hayes, John Stanley, and James Hook. Erik Dippenaar is a talented organist and played the spinet too, and is a specialist in the music of Handel. They performed a composition by Erik, entitled Concerto in G major after Handel, Thomas Arne, and John Stanley, the first performance of this impressive work. Unusual is that Camerata Tinta Barocca performs on period instruments.
My son and I stayed at the Greyton Lodge, an older building which had been renovated by the son of the owners, with modern bathroom fittings. Disappointing was that we could not use the Lounge and its fireplace on our return from dinner, as a front door key is not supplied. The plugs in the bedroom are behind the heavy bed, which meant that I had to move it to charge my phone. An alarm that went off in the middle of the night was a disturbance, especially when the security company representative arrived by motorcycle, and had no consideration for the guests of the fully booked lodge. I was shocked at breakfast when all breakfast items were covered in cling wrap, despite other guests having eaten already; that only unhealthy white and brown bread was available; and that no butter was offered!
Had Roslyn not recommended Peccadillo’s Bistro we may have left, as it was the most rustic-looking restaurant I have ever eaten at, the interior seemingly being of no interest to owner Rupert Fage, but he offered an interesting menu, with reasonably priced starters but Cape Town priced main courses. I enjoyed cheesy leek-filled pancakes (R64) as a starter, as did my son his feta and spinach gnocchi (R66). The main courses were generous, mine being an unusual pork fillet à la crème with red cabbage and potato wedges (R148), while my son enjoyed his roast beef fillet with carrot, onion marmalade, and potato wedges (R164). Our table nearest the fireplace was a bonus.
The concerts were of exceptional quality, and despite our accommodation being disappointing, I will certainly book for next year’s Classics for All Festival! Bravo Coenie Visser and team! It was a shame that the dates of the Franschhoek Literary Festival clashed with those of the Classics for All Festival.
Classics for All Festival 2017, 29 Main Road, Greyton. Tel (028) 254-9564. www.classicsforall.co.za
Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: www.chrisvonulmenstein.com/blog Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: click here Instagram: @Chris_Ulmenstein