OK, the title is pathetic, but it refers to the concert in the Auckland Zoo that Jules and I attended last night. The gates open at 18:30 which means there is still about 180 minutes of light left. Not unlike the concerts in the botanical gardens in Pretoria, a sizeable bunch of people each with a picnic hamper and a few bottles of wine.
On the topic of wine: there are several signs along the way to the main gate stating very clearly that no alcohol or glass may be brought into the zoo (you can buy booze inside). So there is a cursory security inspection at the gate to ensure that people comply. Now here’s the Kiwi touch, if by chance you are detected with a glass container or wine they have a variety of plastic containers into which you can decant your grog. If it is fruit juice, you just go ahead with the plastic container they have provided, if it is booze you can pay a corkage. No confiscation, no handcuffs, just good solutions to a primal need. But of course no one breaks the law in the first place.
OK, so we had very little time to actually look at the zoo, but we did find this very chilled tiger lolling on a trunk. I assure you it was alive. Jules wanted to tickle its chin. I kept thinking of all those dearly departed Taiwanese tourists who thought they’d do the same to lions in Kruger. Where are they now?
The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra is a “city” orchestra. It is probably funded by the metro and performs mostly in one place. It has open days, plays accessible repertoire and aims to get classical music to as many people in the cut as possible. The exceptionally blonde MC explained that 95,000 Aucklanders get to see the APO every year through their various performances.
They are OK, they mostly play the right notes and go louder and softer on queue. Not a world-class orchestra, but good enough and very “local”.
So they played what one would expect: Overture to Marriage of Figaro, Finlandia, Saint-Saens, Beethoven Symph #6 (first movement), Blue Danube, Dance of the Hours, Greensleeves (VW), Meditation from Thais, Brahms Hungarian, William Tell, Bach Air on the G String, and many more to fill up a two-hour slot.
There is something surreal in listening to one of Vivaldi’s flute concertos competing with a seagull crying overhead, and the first of the night birds announcing its arrival. Not sure which one sounded best.
There was a prize for the child who danced best (and there were several 3 to 4 year-olds standing at the front waving their arms balletically and twirling in time with the music (really cute). As the evening wore on the band played better, the conductor’s wit improved, the airhead MC went home, and the crowd got sozzled. So by the end there was uproarious laughter, virtuoso playing, standing ovations and a great time was had by all. We got home after 22:30 but had really enjoyed ourselves.
Clearly we need to go back during the day to actually see the animals some time…