My love of classical music and the performing arts started around the age of five, the age at which I started ballet lessons. I used to wear one of my grandmother's old nightgowns (my ballet frock) and my ballet shoes, and twirl around on the raised floor of our dining room (my stage). My other grandmother made me a proper ballet outfit for Christmas one year - a pink tutu, tulle headband, and wand. An indulgent adult would play ballet music for me and off I would go into my own little world.
I remember the cover of my favourite LP at the time - a black and white photograph of a young von Karajan conducting Coppelia, as proclaimed by the distinctive yellow logo of Deutsche Grammophon.
Ballet stopped when high school started and was replaced by piano lessons with Mrs Hennig, a sweet old lady who thought I had great potential on account of my large hands and long fingers (I can just reach a note higher than an octave). However, I had neither the patience nor the discipline for the many hours of practice required to be a competent pianist, although, unlike ballet, I enjoyed it immensely nonetheless.
It was my mother who was most influential in developing my love for, and appreciation of, the classical performing arts. I was taken to the ballet at a young age and later, in my university years (the early 1990s), she bought us season tickets for what was then the National Symphony Orchestra.
The NSO's concerts were held in the Johannesburg City Hall. I developed a crush on a tall, dark cello player and a lifeling love for live performances of classical music. Sometimes, Mom and I would have dinner at the swanky La Bastille restaurant (starched napkins, silver cutlery) to celebrate the beginning of a season. She had a greater appreciation of lesser-known works and to this day goes mad for pieces that include lots of percussion. I preferred the 'classic classics' and to this day go mad for anything that includes a tuba.
Sadly, the City Hall became a dodgy venue on account of Joburg becoming a dodgy city. Mom's car was stolen one night during a concert and then the NSO disbanded and that was the end of that era.
Now, nearly twenty years later, I consider myself privileged to live in a city where classical music is very much alive and well, and to have two friends who have studied music and graciously contribute to my ongoing education about music, composers and performers. This blog, then, is my account of the performances I attend.