By CityLife Arts Writer
The Buskaid Ensemble is set to deliver a powerful musical experience to Johannesburg audiences, with their concert Bach to Boulogneat the Wits Linder Auditorium on 6 August. The talented ensemble will feature, among others, the music of 18th century French composer, Joseph Boulogne (Le Chevalier St Georges), the life of whom has recently been celebrated in the blockbuster film Chevalier.
Buskaid launched in 1992 to provide children from impoverished backgrounds with the opportunity to learn classical stringed instruments to the highest possible standards. Its professional orchestra comprises its top performers. Their unique playing style and repertoire has earned high accolades and a growing following on social media with comments and views from music lovers across the globe.
While the remarkable story of Boulogne’s life and music has only recently received the popular attention it deserves, his music has been no stranger to the Buskaid Ensemble, which first performed Concertante in G major – Allegro – Chevalier de Saint-George in 2012, the performance video of which has received close to 150 000 views on social media – view it here: https://youtu.be/VRBUA5rgaLs .
Boulogne was the son of a wealthy white landowner, Georges Boulogne de Saint Georges and Nanon, an African slave. He was a remarkable violinist, dancer, composer, swordsman, and later became a political activist. Born in Guadeloupe in 1745, he was brought to Paris where he grew up and by the age of 21, his multitude of skills in performance, composition, fencing, and discourse saw him become a “Chevalier” (French knight). He earned the “Black Mozart” moniker because his music was constantly compared to that of Mozart, although he was in fact born 11 years prior to Mozart and was far more likely to have been an influence on Mozart, with many believing his musical genius surpassed that of Amadeus (especially when he outplayed him in a violin duel).
Buskaid’s performance on 6 Augustoffers soaring renditions of the 18th century French composer; extracts from an opera by baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau (one of Buskaid’s favourite composers), as well as Bach’s double violin concerto, and Gioachino Rossini’s first String Sonata.
It begins with Rameau’s Zoroastre, – a chance to hear extraordinary music never played in concert in South Africa. This will be followed by a performance of the Bach D major concerto for two violins featuring Khotso Langa and Mzwandile Twala, both of whom performed the first movement at the Linder Auditorium when they were just 14 years old! Now young adults, both Khotso and Mwzandile are regular performers with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra.