That precious time between Christmas and New Year provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year’s activities and prioritise for the new year. 2010 was a very busy year, filled with many wonderful musical activities. 97 gigs and concerts kept me on my toes in between stints teaching at various schools, training choirs, coaching singers, and generally living my life addicted to music. Here are just some of the highest high-lights of my 2010:

Learning the Gamelan in Bali
This was one of the highlights of my life. I fell in love with Bali. I made sure I found myself a Gamelan teacher and got some first-hand experience of this magnificent and mysterious music. I found my Western training more of a hindrance than an asset. It was simply a life-changing experience. READ MORE.

Washing in the Temple of the Holy Water: Ubud

UCT Graduate School of Business: Business Acumen for Artists
I am very proud to have received my Diploma form the UCT GSB for a fantastic course in business skills specifically designed for Artists. Learning lessons in clarifying the financial side of this art we love so much, was exactly what I needed at this point in my career. A very worth-while experience.

Pretty Yende and Friends: Cape Town City Hall
Having the chance to perform with Pretty Yende and a team of superb singers to mark the 10th anniversary of Winemaking at Diemersfontein and the establishing of a scholarship for young artists, was wonderful. Pretty was on a winning streak when she arrived from La Scala, and has been ever since, clinching a series of first prizes at international singing competitions. Luthando Qave, a young baritone overlooked locally even for understudy roles, is now at the Metropolitan Opera. What a pleasure to see young talent flower. And what a magnificent programme it was. READ MORE

Kleinmond Big Blue(s) Festival: Blues in the Night
I am proud that I have been successful in Jazz and other popular music genres, coming as I do from a classical back-ground. Louise Howlett and I were delighted to share the outdoor stage with the likes of the Boulevard Blues Band and Anton Goosen and pulled it off with the audience. We provided a quieter and more intimate Blues vibe than the big loud rock bands, and the audience response was tremendous. READ MORE.

Launching the CD “Night Sessions” with Louise Howlett
Working Louise is one of the great pleasures of my life. The CD was a natural product of all our performances and the natural rapport we have on- and off-stage. We went into the studio with the idea of creating a multi-genre disc including opera and musicals – as is Louise’s trademark in concert. But guided by Duncan MacKay, we went into a “Night Sessions” zone with a delicious creative energy. Named by Radio 2000’s Erica Alan as one of the 20 Top South African Jazz Releases of the year, also felt great. I also wrote a song for especially for Louise to sing: A place inside. I usually keep my compositions private or for liturgical use, so it was a bold step to pass something so personal to a fellow performer, let alone to an audience. And to my delight, audiences loved the song. Another favourite was our version of Besame Mucho. These two songs have already been recorded and lie in waiting for the next project. Louise & I performed with Mark Hoeben and Ina Wichterich at Suikerbossie Restaurant, combining songs as varied as Besame Mucho and Rusalka’s Song to the Moon with Tango dancing. Real Tango is improvised, and Louise and I work within an improvisatory framework. So combining the two seemed a logical step. It was a brave experiment made in a headstrong creative spurt of self-expression – and what a delightful afternoon of on-the-fly creativity!  READ MORE.

Dancing with Angels: Abrazos – Singapore
Performing in Singapore during the Arts Festival was awesome. Working with Tango dancers and musicians from a different culture was a stimulating challenge. Workshops and master-classes culminating in public performances was a superb experience. Having the chance to work with Singaporean singers was also a new experience. I was touched by how my musical knowledge and expertise was sought out, respected and valued. And proving that Chopin and Piazzolla can be good bedfellows, was a boost. READ MORE.

Launching the CD “Tango Club” with the CT Tango Ensemble
My relationship with Tango is now over a decade old and is one of the biggest pleasures of my performing life. We released our second CD Tango Club at a magnificent evening in the packed out Baxter Concert Hall. Blending a traditional Concert Hall with a traditional Tango Salon, with dancers on the stage, proved a big hit with audiences and pushed us to one of our best public performances yet. The support of the Cape Town Tango community has been tremendous and with the inclusion of classical guitarist James Grace and Jazz musicians Willy van Zyl and Kevin Gibson, we have extended our musical range beyond the traditional and the “nuevo”. READ MORE.

Orchestral Piano with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra
For many pianists the job of orchestral pianist is not particularly appealing or glamorous. I love it. To be part of such a big powerful engine, sit right in the middle of it, and study works that as an accompanist or soloist I would have no contact with, is a delight. Highlights included Prokofiev’s 5th Symphony under Arjan Tien and a CD recording of Barber and Korngold Violin Concertos with Alexander Gilman conducted by Perry So, for the Sony Classics Label. I particularly enjoy working with the orchestra as it puts my work with opera conductors into perspective. In the preparation for an opera I could spend up to six weeks in a one-on-one situation with a conductor, where in an orchestra one has the protection- and of course added scrutiny – of 70 or 80 pairs of eyes. I have been blessed to have worked with delightful conductors. Perry So in particular had a wonderfully expressive conducting style and I enjoyed the constant eye-contact and affirmation he gave.

Many other highlights include the Opera in a Convent Garden which sold over 1500 tickets as a Rotary Fundraiser. The Temple Israel Quintet performed all the music for the High Holidays, and always Beverley Chiat’s singing is sheer pleasure. TC Kemane – a black baritone with a perfect Hebrew accent – astonishes the congregation every time. His Kol Nidrei is something to hear. The VoorkamerFest in Darling and the End-of-year Tango Salon @ 6 Spinstreet with TangoCapeTown were exciting and successful events. Shirley Sutherland and I perform at various events, including an ongoing schools music project.

There are many others I could mention

THANK YOU to everyone who came to my/our shows this year, bought tickets, sold tickets, bought CDs, booked me/us and in general helped to make this an incredible end to the first decade of the 21st century!