Polly-phony

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?

tyger, tyger sleeping tight in the twilight of the night

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”.

Wine, wombats, song

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…

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7 Responses to Polly-phony

  1. karie says:

    The tiger looks very laid back, pretty much like a stuffed toy, it is difficult to belive it was alive.

  2. Stijn says:

    Hi Steve,

    I really enjoy reading your blog. Hope the family is doing ok. Say hi to everybody. Really happy for you guys. Enjoy and see you later… you never know…

    Regards,

    Stijn

    • Hey Stijn – good to hear from you. Every time I look at your FB page I see snow, ice and very cold little faces. Best to ask for a transfer to New Zealand where the sun shines! From the sacred book of Wikipedia we learn that : “On 27 July 1939 Auckland received its only recorded snowfall.” Now that means it is more temperate than Pretoria which has snow every 20 years! Come on – think about it.

      Regards
      Steven

  3. Sally says:

    Local colour, NZ-style. Loved your report !
    I just sailed down Du Toits Kloof Pass accompanied by the NZ Symphony Orchestra conducted by James Judd. Richard Rodney Bennett’s arrangement of Gershwin songs (“Gershwin in Hollywood”) – a truly splendid performance. Call it a symphonic lollypop – at that standard it’s seriously classy. And it’s “your” other orchestra. Something to look forward to, I think. Albeit – as far as we know – sans the tiger & the blonde MC…

    Oh, and did you know about the International BedBug Conference held in Washington DC (check the BBC news-website – under Health.) Seems you’re not Alone…

    • Can you believe it! Sounds like an international problem – there’s even a http://bedbugregistry.com/ where you can (anonymously) leave reports about hotels with infestations. Amazing. I feel like one of a close-nit (sic) family, maybe there should be a support group for victims.

      • Sally says:

        Wanna bet ? Google Bed Bug Support Groups…. 300 000 hits.

        Bedbugger Forums, BedBug Blog and YES a BB Support Group to be launched (2006 ! – I didn’t follow up to see what happened subsequently.) But if it’s a problem in the US, you can be very sure there will be a 12-step program for the Bedbug Afflicted, and various Therapies to make you Love Your Bedbug… not to mention the Spa-protocols for recovering BedBuggers…

  4. karie says:

    I wonder if there is an AA for BB sufferers that offers the 12-step programme.

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