Sunset serenade in the Kruger National Park
Every year the Honorary Rangers organise classical music concerts in the bush. This year sees the 10th anniversary.
SUNSET SERENADE 10th ANNIVERSARY: 17 – 20 JUNE 2009
LETABA CAMP: KRUGER PARK
Wednesday 17th June 2009 saw the arrival of excited guests from all over South Africa, everyone of us having two things in common: music and the bush.
After spending the first night at Letaba, taking in all the night sounds, the musicians rehearsed under the watchful eyes of many intrigued casual visitors to the camp. SABC TV unexpectedly arrived and filmed the rehearsal and interviewed key organisers.
At 16h00 we all clambered onto the game drive vehicles and made our way to Mahudzi, the landing strip. What a welcome sight awaited us – white tablecloths displaying litres of Amarula and a selection of wines, white covered chairs, and the musicians, led by Peta-Ann Holdcroft on the cello. Other members included Rosemarie Kane on harp, Irene Tsoniff and Ivo Ivanov on violin, Malané Hofmeyr-Burger on flute and Marjan Vonk on viola. After pouring drinks the first notes of the evocative Kruger Canon by Pachelbel were played. “Kruger” as a prefix to Canon was adopted by the musicians some years ago and is their signature tune at our event. The recital included The Swan by Saint Saëns, Winter from the Four Seasons by Vivaldi and Nessun Dorma by Puccini.
After a magnificent sunset, subtle lights were turned on to illuminate the score stands while the audience sat in the dark as bats swooped above and birds settled for the night. After the concert, Section Ranger Joe Nkuna arrived with a huge African rock python, which had been caught in the camp and was to be relocated in the area. This caused quite a stir but after a while it made its way into the bush.
We returned to camp at 19h00 for dinner on the verandah of the restaurant and so ended our first musical experience.
The second concert was at Ngoro (Yellow billed hornbill), a site south of Letaba on the river. A breeding herd of elephant were feeding in the reeds and several hippo were grunting in the deeper water. In unison the elephant’s trunks went up and took notice of our presence, then carried on with feeding – every now and again voicing an opinion or settling a dispute. Music included Meditation de Thais by Massenet, Handel’s Duo for Violin and Viola and lighter choices such as the theme from Chocolat and the Jewish folk song Sim Shalom.
The final evening’s concert was at Nkuhlwini (Place of the Natal mahogany) a favourite on the north bank of the Letaba river. Once again hippo grunted and water dikkop (thickknee) communicated shrilly to each other and the noisy francolin finally went to bed. Handel’s Water Music and Xerxes were the initial pieces followed by Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto and Haydn’s String Quartet The Bird. The lighter music included Pizzicato Polka by J Strauss and Baby Elephant Walk by Henry Mancini. Ranger Joe Nkuna danced with delight to The lion sleeps tonight, much to our mirth. As an encore Gabriel’s Oboe by Ennio Morricone thrilled us all and it was with sadness that we watched the musicians take their final bow and pack their instruments away.
Janssen Davies, Chairman of the NEC of Honorary Rangers (HR) gave a short talk on the role of HR’s and fund raising followed by Counter Poaching & Rangers Support Services Chairman, John Turning thanking those responsible for organising the event, namely Margaret Stafford, Ken & Tina Schmidt, Ockert van Niekerk and Rudy Strydom. 4 x 4 Megaworld representative Marilu Di Santolo handed over a cheque for R30 000, which was gratefully received.
At the restaurant the staff surprised us by beautifully singing a rendition of Shosholoza and ululating whilst weaving through the tables.
So, as the moon began to wane, so did we all have to wind down and prepare ourselves for normality after having had our batteries charged. The next serenade takes place on 16th September – a spring concert when the bush is reawakening after winter.