May 8th 2011, 23:37
A Summer Sunset Concert at Kirstenbosch combines some of the best Cape Town has to offer – a stunning mountain backdrop, homegrown music and a celebration of cultural diversity. Events manager Sarah Struys tells us what it’s all about…
Kirstenbosch’s first Summer Sunset Concert series took place in 1992. How many concerts do you have now and how many people attend
There are 19 Summer Sunset Concerts every season. The concerts are attended by between 4 000 and 5 000 people every week now.
What has been your fastest-selling act?
The Parlotones – two years ago their concert sold out in about half an hour.
How do you decide the line-up each year?
Our concert committee decides on who we invite, taking many different elements into account. The bands have to be able to draw a crowd, and be comfortable with performing in front of 5 000 people. Audience expectations keep escalating and we have to keep providing good music and professional performances. We also aim to get a mix of genres. The concerts have become an important source of income to Kirstenbosch, but equally important is the fact that they
introduce new people to Kirstenbosch and to our biodiversity conservation work.
Do different acts and bands draw different types of crowds, or do the same people
generally attend all the concerts?
The audiences differ from concert to concert. This season, Isochronous and Kidofdoom and Zebra & Giraffe drew a very young crowd, and we are expecting the same for Goldfish. Freshlyground, Prime Circle and The Protons attract young professionals and families. We had a slightly more mature crowd for Mango
Groove. The racial mix also differs depending on the performance. Bands like TKZee, Lira and Loyiso attract a lot of coloured and black people, whereas
the rock bands appeal more to white people. Freshlyground and The Parlotones
managed to attract a fairly mixed crowd.
Most of your bands are local bands. Why?
The Summer Sunset Concerts are generally reserved for South African bands. We have always been passionate about promoting South African music and we want to keep doing this. We have also been lucky to have some musicians in our line-up who are originally South African but made it abroad, such as Civil Twilight and Shawn Morgan from Seether.
What have been your most memorable moments?
There are so many … An acoustic concert by Shawn Morgan in the pouring rain comes to mind. It was one of the best performances I have seen and the atmosphere was fantastic. The Parlotones brought acrobats from ZipZap Circus along this year to perform with them, which was a perfect match with the band’s music.
What do you do with the profi t you make from the concerts?
All the money raised through the concerts is used for the upkeep of
Kirstenbosch. We are part of the South African National Biodiversity Institute, but the garden generates its own income for maintenance, meaning no tax-payer money has to be spent on Kirstenbosch.
Botanical gardens and rock stars don’t obviously go together. Are our rock stars well behaved? Have we ever had any Jimmy Hendrix burning his guitar kind of behaviour?
All the artists that I have worked with have been very professional. In my experience, South African musicians are friendly and humble people. Arriving late for a sound check is about the naughtiest thing a musician has ever done at Kirstenbosch, and that happens very seldom.
Do rock stars have any peculiar habits before they go on stage?
I am often surprised how many big stars are actually very nervous before going on stage, especially when I give them an update on the ticket sales, and they hear that the show is sold out. They often ask me afterwards if I think their performance was OK.
Why should people make an effort to attend one of the last concerts of this series?
A Kirstenbosch concert is so typically summer in Cape Town – a mix of people
of different races and ages, the whole family being together, beautiful nature, great music, a laidback atmosphere, casual outfi ts, a picnic, a bottle of wine …
Who do you think the Protea flower’s favourite band would be?
I think they might like to hang out with their fellow Capetonians, such as Feshlyground, Goldfish and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra.
Written by Sarah Struys