Jazz meets Classical: a Festival of Contemporary South African Musical Encounters at Spier Wine Farm

The Spier Wine Farm will come alive on Saturday, 23 November, with a very special music festival meant to bring authentic jazz and contemporary classical maestros to Spier’s renovated outdoor amphitheatre, long missing the eager arts crowds it hosted years back. The inaugural South African Jazz and Classical Encounters Festival will groove with three seasoned and well-established jazz bands and two classical groups, all known for their interpretive encounters with sound, instrumentation, voice, and rhythm. The brain child of music entrepreneur and former owner of the Orbit jazz club in Johannesburg, Aymeric Peguillan, in association with Shirley de Kock and Associates, this Festival brings not only musical icons to the stage for seven hours, but also opportunities for patrons to enjoy the natural surroundings of Spier and its refreshments on offer, such as casual dining or pre-booked picnics.

Peguillan’s PEGS Music Project (www.pegsmusicproject.co.za) has ambitious plans which reflect his own passion for South African jazz. French-born Peguillan met the jazz experience early in his youth, and ventured on listening journeys to hear and meet musicians playing American jazz standards. Professionally, he has juggled this musical passion with humanitarian development assistance work with MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières or Doctors Without Borders in English) in various African and eastern European countries stressed by civil war and other disasters.

“After many years working with MSF, I was sent to South Africa in 1994 to head up its office in Johannesburg. I resigned two years later in 1996 and ventured into teaching, the film industry, and some advertising. But my love of jazz pushed me to open up a live jazz club in Troyville for several years and there I met a lot of South African musicians.”

Johannesburg remained Peguillan’s base as he moved again in MSF circles in Geneva and Swaziland. The jazz bug bit again.

“My wife and I raised our two young children in Swaziland, but I returned to Johannesburg, left MSF, and opened The Orbit jazz club in 2012. This was my ultimate passion, to have a premier live jazz venue where the musicians would feel comfortable meeting and playing with each other, and where patrons could experience the best in live music and cuisine.”

Most unfortunately, the Orbit closed down in 2018 after a winning streak of some six years. Life moves on.

“Concerning the upcoming November 23rd Spier event, I was inspired by wanting upmarket and interesting places for quality music festivals, annually, instead of the current options of big convention centers. Growing up in Europe, my experience of festivals was hearing great music in great places, like in an old church, or in a vineyard. Also, I like the mixing of the performing arts, which is what another PEGS project is – When Ballet Meets Jazz. This mixing of audiences and bringing people together, who love the performing arts, is what I like. The Spier event is also, I think, in line with nation-building, for people who would not normally sit together…. this sort of thing.”

Marrying the best of classical and jazz in a South African context is what November 23rd is about.  The schedule is tight, opening the doors at 13:00. The Kyle Shepherd Trio opens the event and features pianist Shepherd, Shane Cooper on double bass, and drummer Jonno Sweetman, a group that has played and grown together over the years. Following this act is composer/arranger and musician Matthijs Van Dijk as part of the Night Light Collective with pianist Cara Stacey, double bassist Brydon Bolton, and guitarist Reza Khota. These artists are known for their ‘cross-over’ creations with contemporary music of a South African vein. Stacey also plays southern African musical bows, such as the umrhubhe, uhadi,and makhoyane  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1ZqhW-H2MAg&list=PLIDnYe90LHghhFtaCKyBYPs5oslirN_02

Award winner Van Dijk has performed in several musical genre groups, from a rock band to chamber orchestra.

Trumpeter Mandla Mlangeni’s Tune Recreation Committee has stellar jazz artists: Reza Khota, bassist Nicholas Williams, drummer Clement Benny, and pianist Afrika Mkhize. They tell stories. http://www.alljazzradio.co.za/2019/01/26/trcs-afrika-grooves-tells-artists-stories-mlangeni-and-mkize-discusss/

Violist and composer Jan-Hendrik Harley takes to the stage next, with his 11-musician contemporary group Ensemble, Je Ne Comprends Pas, which promises to woo the audience with some breath taking compositions, from chamber music pieces to electro-acoustic.

Lastly, the refreshingly lilting, wistful vocals of jazz trumpeter, Mandisi Dyantyis, supported by saxophonist Buddy Well, pianist Blake Hellaby, bassist Steve De Sousa, and drummer Lumanyano Unity Mzi will surely please.   http://www.alljazzradio.co.za/2019/02/14/trumpeter-vocalist-mandisi-dyantyis-emotes-stories-in-somandla-a-cd-review/

Bookings are essential through Quicket at R380 for the day.
Spier Amphitheatre, SPIER Wine Farm, R310 Baden Powell Drive, Stellenbosch.

The schedule: (Doors open at 13:00)
14.00 pm to 15:00 pm – Kyle Shepherd Trio
15:15 to 16:15 pm – The Night Light Collective
16:45 to 17:45 – Mandla Mlangeni’s Tune Recreation Committee
18:00 to 19:00 – Jan-Hendrik Harley Ensemble Je ne Comprends Pas
19 :45 to 20:45 – Mandisi Dyantyis Quintet

Facebook: Jazz & Classical Encounters at Spier
021 809 1100, 078 398 62 50
info@spier.co.za, or aypeguillan@gmail.com

Shirley de Kock Gueller shirley@gueller.com / 071 318 1495

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