The Beethoven Room at the Rhodes University music school has the air of a chapel about it. It defies the obvious festive mood of music lovers gathered to witness Standard Bank Young Artist of the Year, Avigail Bushakevitz give a recital. They’ve filled the hall to its brim and sit cinema style. Shoulder to shoulder stoic and statuesque they sit and wait. This is no place for dancing.
Bushakevitz’s violin is joined by her brother Ammiel Bushakevitz’s piano on a number of tunes in her repertoire. It is during these fractions of her show that the star player shines most. They open with colourful compositions by Fritz Kreisler (1875-1962). The power of their playing is decidedly multi-textured. Their unmatched musical rapport as siblings finds fertile showing when they take on Kreisler’s The Beautiful Rosemary. They soar with it from the familiar to the exotic with touching acuity. This is in part owing to Kreisler’s interest in Chinese opera. It helped to enrich his palette as a western classical composer.
However, the obvious joyous content of the music is often at odds with classical music’s ideas of concert hall decorum. Bushakevitz’s sparkles of virtuosity are lost on the stoicism of the setting. Her take on Partita No.3 in E Major by JS Bach (1685-1750) more than any of her chosen charts, shows off her facility as a fiddler. Playing solo, with her head tilted into her instrument and her red dress hugging her frame like petals to bud, Bushakevitz is obviously in her element. Her audience responds with measured applause. Nothing too impassioned, just enough lest they upset etiquette. Ding, dong!
As she enters the last part of her set, one is reminded that the National Arts Festival too is entering its last weekend. The revelry goes on overdrive. The mood in every part of its especially stoic decorum of the Bushakevitz’s recital. Simphiwe Dana is in town as one of the last highlights of the Standard Bank Jazz Festival at the DSG. She joins hot tickets Caiphus Semenya and Ringo Madlingozi. This will be a different jamboree. Jive and jovial, it registers the diversity that charges this town during these 11 amazing days.