Tuesday, March 30, 2010

‘Deep South’, a fitting farewell to Chrisna

- Ailsa Tudhope -

Chrisna and Peter’s last concert at St John’s Church was a thoroughly entertaining evening of music from the ‘Deep South’ of the USA and South Africa.

Peter and Rosemary McEwan compiled a programme which gave full reign to Peter’s voice and allowed Chrisna to display her virtuosity at the piano. Besides her sensitivity as an accompanist, Chrisna sets herself a high standard as a soloist. ‘Going Home’ from Dvorák’s 9th Symphony, From the New World, the Afrikaans medley and the encore, In a Persian Market, fully demonstrated her expertise.

Peter’s costume might have made the audience wonder if he had fallen on hard times but they soon realised it enhanced the theme of songs from the American Deep South, particularly the Negro Spirituals and lullabies which typified the years before the Civil War. It was most fitting that he performed Old Man River, which he first sang in a competition at the age of twelve, in his last concert with Chrisna.

To add to the significance of the evening, three of his sons travelled especially from Johannesburg, giving Peter a wonderful surprise and allowing him to serenade his youngest with Mighty Lak a Rose, which he had crooned to him moments after he was born.
Sarah Modra delighted everyone with her performance of I’se gwin back to Dixie on the clarinet and Hugh Forsyth’s rendition of Uncle Remus’ Brer Rabbit tale The Tar Baby was much appreciated.
The sing-along of well-known South African and American songs was a roaring hit; the audience were all in excellent voice and thoroughly enjoyed themselves! Peter and Chrisna’s duet Why do I love you? from Showboat brought tears to the eyes of many, but was a glorious finale to this most successful concert.

Prince Albert has lost a treasure with Chrisna’s departure. She regularly played the organ at the NG Kerk, was an integral part of the Words and Music programmes, Carols by Candlelight services and other special events at St John’s Church and was a bastion of the Hoërskool Zwartberg Kultuuraande. She did sterling service in classrooms at Zwartberg and her own learning centre and many children and adults experienced her encouraging, enthusiastic and thorough teaching in their music lessons.

Her many friends throughout the community wish Chrisna, Hané and Jan Stephan many blessings as they set out upon a new path.

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