– South Africa’s esteemed orchestra and opera companies create a silent album in defiance of threats to arts around the world –
- The album entitled Cwaka. The Silence. features recordings of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) and Cape Town Opera (CTO) performing silent versions of some of their greatest works in an effort to raise the funds they so desperately need to keep going for generations to come
- The performance was staged as an act of defiance and solidarity in the face of the threat of being permanently silenced after months of COVID-19 closures and restrictions stifled incomes
- Cape Town Opera and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra are calling on artists and supporters worldwide to join their rallying cry to stop the silencing of the arts, whether through COVID, conflict, censorship and more
- The album will be launched on Spotify on 30th November here and on vinyl via cwakathesilence.co.za in January 2022
- 40 limited edition vinyl records – featuring fine art print covers, numbered and signed by internationally renowned South African artist William Kentridge – will be auctioned to raise desperately needed funds
- An additional 50 limited edition copies of the vinyl will be available for purchase online
- Watch the campaign video, performance and interviews here.
- Big international and local personalities have pledged their support, including Pink Floyds’ Nick Mason, former Springbok rugby captain Francois Pienaar, Actor Victoria Ekanoye, Actor Stephen Boxer, Actor Siv Ngesi, Violinist and Conductor Pinchas Zukerman, Opera Singers Pretty Yende and Sonnyboy Dladla, Maps Maponyane and more.
Across the world, right now – from Cape Town to Kabul and London to Beijing – the arts are being silenced. COVID-19, conflict, censorship, loss of funding, displacement – even natural disasters – are seeing to it that the volume is being turned down on one of humanity’s driving forces: creative expression.
But right here in South Africa, two world-class organisations currently dealing with these enormous pressures, The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) and Cape Town Opera (CTO), are standing up for the arts, both here and internationally, with the release of a new album: Cwaka. The Silence.
The album features recordings of silent versions of some of their greatest works. It also includes an original 49-second title track, Cwaka. The Silence. (isiXhosa pronunciation available here at 1:20 seconds)
The release comes after the two organisations were forced to either stop live performances altogether or to perform to extremely limited audiences for 18 months now, leading to a significant earnings’ loss.
The call for donations is being done in a simple and effective manner. South Africans are encouraged to add the track to their Spotify playlists as a way of raising awareness and funds for the cause (royalties will top up the fund each time the song is played, at no cost to the listener). Those with a love for the renowned artist William Kentridge, who has designed the vinyl cover, can bid for one of 10 limited edition fine art print copies of the vinyl via the auction or purchase one of 50 limited edition copies of the vinyl.
The funds raised in this campaign will go directly towards supporting the classical arts in South Africa via the Duet Endowment Trust. The world-famous soprano, Pretty Yende, is one of the alumni who entered the global stage via the Cape Town Opera. They will also ensure the organisations can continue their work at grassroots levels in local communities where they are always on the lookout for discovering bright young talent from diverse, vulnerable, impoverished areas who have previously been underrepresented within the classical music industry.
Says Nicholas Ackerman, Director of the Duet Endowment Trust, “When we embarked on this campaign, it was a direct response to the devastating effect of the pandemic on our orchestra and opera company. As we now approach the launch date, we see just how much the arts are under threat around the world; whether it’s COVID-19 here in Cape Town, or the Afghan Women’s Orchestra being oppressed by the Taliban, or visual artists like Ai Wei Wei who has recently spoken about being exiled and censored; or even the cultural funding being quietly eroded away in places such as the UK.”
“We were inspired to do two things: firstly, to raise the funds we need to keep our beloved Cape Town, South African and African classical institutions alive, but also as a rallying cry for the artists around the world being silenced. We believe the arts are at the heart of what makes us human, what brings joy and meaning to life, and that they’re worth fighting for. Yes, we are asking people to listen to our silence – and then we want them to go out and support their own local creative voices as well,” says Ackerman, who is passionate about raising awareness and donations for the Duet Endowment Fund which was founded by his grandmother, Wendy Ackerman.
People can listen to the album from 30th November on Spotify, or other preferred streaming services, at https://bfan.link/cwaka-the-silence-1, and via the campaign website cwakathesilence.co.za, where they can also watch a performance of the title track, donate to the fund, buy one of 50 limited edition copies of the vinyl, or register for the auction of one of only 40 limited edition fine art prints (along with the vinyl), numbered and signed by artist, William Kentridge, whose work features in the permanent collection at the Tate among other galleries around the world.
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For photography or video, further information, or interviews with the CTO and CPO, their alumni or celebrity supporters, or those involved in the youth programmes,
please contact email@example.com / 082 739 4489
Notes to editors:
Video and photo content:
- The campaign video is available here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1oIpVI6rLZw_sxlgya_uOY784XHsiJjEg/view?usp=sharing
- Interviews with members of the CTO & CTPO are available here: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/17t9PuuV9c2vOBrc0aO-a-CVOfTdrS7BK?usp=sharing
More details surrounding the live auction of the limited-edition vinyl albums will be announced shortly on www.cwakathesilence.co.za
The full tracklist is as follows:
1. Cwaka. The Silence | Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and Cape Town Opera
2. Che gelida manina, La bohème (Silent Version) | Giacomo Puccini
3. Summertime, Porgy and Bess (Silent Version) | George Gershwin
4. Carmen Fantasie (Silent Version) | Pablo de Sarasate
5. Rallalala, Hänsel und Gretel (Silent Version) | Engelbert Humperdinck
1. L’amour est un oiseau rebelle (Habanera), Carmen (Silent Version) | Georges Bizet
2. The Carnival of the Animals (Silent Version) | Camille Saint-Saëns
3. Symphony No. 9 (Silent Version) | Alfred Schnittke, reconstructed by Aleksander Raskatov
4. Eine Hex’ Steinalt, Hänsel und Gretel (Silent Version) | Engelbert Humperdinck
About the Duet Endowment Trust
All donations made support Cape Town Opera and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra via the Duet Endowment Fund. The Duet Endowment Fund is a joint endowment trust, created for the advancement and preservation of Cape Town Opera and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and was established by Mrs Wendy Ackerman in 2014. Wendy Ackerman is a philanthropist and arts supporter with a focus on the UK and South Africa.
Duet aims to ensure that, while growing the capital, there is sufficient income to provide on-going injections of money to the joint beneficiaries and enable the work that Cape Town Opera and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra do both professionally and within the community. For more, please visit the website duettrust.co.za
About Cape Town Opera
Africa’s premier opera company has been a cultural ambassador for South Africa for over 21 years, showcasing the astonishing vocal talent of this country nationally and internationally. Apart from being renowned and loved for its world-class productions, the company also provides unmatched skills development and hands-on training to young artists and learners from across the country. Cape Town Opera’s Youth Development and Education department has reached over 750 000 learners in rural and township communities with their music training and music creation programmes.
The stellar quality of the company’s chorus was acknowledged when they won the Best Opera Chorus at the International Opera Awards Competition in London in 2013.
The company is a lynchpin of the artistic ecosystem in South Africa, and provides sustained employment for artists, instructors, administrators and other practitioners of opera.
About the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra
The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) is the oldest and foremost orchestra in Africa, established in 1914 by the Cape Town City Council. It has a national and international reputation for excellence thanks to the high quality of its performances and artists which include pianists such as Paul Lewis, violinists such as Joshua Bell and singers such as Pretty Yende and the late Johan Botha. Versatile, multifunctional and even in these extraordinary times it is extremely busy with streamed symphony concerts, community galas, chamber music concerts, the productions of a video on the instruments of the orchestra and its continuous accompaniment of Cape Town Opera, Cape Town City Ballet and collaborations with internationally recognised choreographers/dancers such as Elvis Sibeko Studio.
The CPO is also at the forefront of youth education and development with the largest training programme in the country. The aim is to transform the orchestras of the country to reflect the demographics, and with many graduates of the programme already on the CPO and other orchestras’ stages on merit the aim is being realised. The CPO prepares young musicians for careers such as in arts management and arts librarianship.
The programme reaches 100s of young learners mainly from disadvantaged communities to be coached and trained to levels to perform in the youth symphony orchestra (CPYO), youth wind ensemble (CPYWE), intermediate and junior string ensembles, The project also comprises a music academy for theory and practice (CPOMA). the Masidlale grassroots project which teaches instruments in mother tongue to young learners from the townships, across the city, and up the province’s west coast. The CPO recently introduced Music Tots, which teaches fife and drum to children as young as two.