Sonnevanger

Programme note

Hans Roosenschoon's suite for symphony orchestra, The Suncatcher (Die Sonnevanger) is based on a series of paintings with the same generic title of the well-known Flemish born painter, Father Frans Claerhout.  It was completed in 1990 as a commission from the Rupert Music Foundation.

Claerhout's lavish brush strokes and his unique approach to African material made an immediate impact on the composer, an aspect which he tried to put into sound.  Shortly after he had started with the composition which is based on 10 out of the series of 29 paintings, he discovered to his surprise that the series innitially had a sub-title given by the artist: "A Symphony of Africa".

The first performance of The Suncatcher took place during the 21st Annual Youth Music Festival organised by the Cape Performing Arts Board (Capab) in the Nico Malan Opera House, Cape Town, South Africa on 11 and 12 September, 1992.  The Western Cape Youth Orchestra was conducted by Eric Rycroft.

Frans Claerhout's series of paintings The Suncatcher forms part of the art collection which belongs to the University of the Orange Free State, where it is housed in the Johannes Stegmann gallery, in Bloemfontein.

The paintings were specially transported to Cape Town for the Youth Music festival and were displayed in the foyer of the Nico Malan Theatre complex.  The composer Hans Roosenschoon opened this exhibition in the presence of the painter.

In addition, an exhibition of works by young people from various art centres in the Cape peninsula, with the theme "Catcher of the Sun", were also exhibited.

The titles of the paintings which the composer has set to music are:

1. The question, 2. Castles in the air (Umhala wasetywaleni)**, 3. Music and flowers bind us to the earth (Umzi unqabile), 4. Please, God! (Umyeyezelo), 5. Rhythm is the soul of work (Uyolingena), 6. The dreamer (Inguwena wena....)

7. Summer gives the fullness of life , 8. Death does not break the life-cycle (Ingoma yokuthuthuzela umntwana), 9. The road to nowhere (Bakhulule, Zulu-Baba), 10. The suncatcher

Roosenschoon is also indebted to Father Dave Dargie for his research on the music of the Xhosa people, and which has also inspired him in this creation.

** Indicates specific Xhosa songs.

Apart from the paintings themselves, there are the poems that Claerhout wrote on each painting.

On the other hand, the Xhosa material collected by Dargie comprise of Inisiation, Wedding and Drinking songs, a Lullaby, Working and Zionist songs, in which themes are all hexatonic.

The sun and the spectrum of light with its seven colours is represented by the composer's use of pandiatonicism.  The pandiatonic harmonic structures and the method of their distribution over the tonal spectrum, and the way the material is orchestrated, present several possibilities of colour.  This technique is employed in conjunction with a cyclical principle with regard to the chord members featured as the basis of chord structures.

Finally the sun is represented also in the over-all form of the work in which all diatonic keys are employed.  Each painting has its own tone centre.  In turn, some movements are thematically linked which led to a particular grouping of movements.

 Review

Malan, Mariana. 2 September 1992,TYGER-BURGER

Liebenberg, Anette. 14 September 1992, DIE BURGER

Meredith, Ivan. 15 September 1992, THE ARGUS

Brommert, Beverley. 16 September 1992, CAPE TIMES

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