The inaugural Jazz on the Lawn event hosted by the Irma Stern Museum ticked all the right boxes for jazz lovers who soaked up the music and the sunshine in the idyllic setting of the museum’s lush secret garden.
The music event on 19 March was part of the celebrations being held to mark the 50-year anniversary of the art museum first opening its doors to the public.
Irma Stern was a prominent South African painter, sculptor and ceramicist. The Firs, the large Edwardian-style homestead in Cecil Road in Rosebank, Cape Town, which is now the Irma Stern Museum, was Stern’s home and personal sanctuary, and her studio, until her death in 1966.
The Jazz on the Lawn event organisers aimed the musical experience at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) residence community that surrounds the museum. With the event fully booked ahead of time, there was no doubt about the strong appeal of the open-air concert – so much so that the organisers are now considering making this a regular feature on the campus calendar.
The musical line-up included recent UCT College of Music graduates: saxophonist Georgia Jones, singer Zinzi Dinginto and guitarist Matthew Mentor.
Dinginto dedicated her set to the theme of love and showcased original material as well as tributes to jazz legends. She explained the motivation behind her theme: “It’s because I’m in love! Also, it’s a positive theme to just relax to especially on a Saturday because it’s not too serious.”
“It’s a beautiful event. We’ve been looking for live jazz for a while and we’ve finally found it.”
She added that she appreciated the “out-of-the-ordinary” setting she performed in.
Mentor echoed these sentiments. “It was a chilled vibe and the audience was really interactive. I hope to play this kind of event again,” he said.
There were 52 people in attendance and many had come prepared with picnic blankets and baskets. They were by all accounts open and receptive to the musical experience given their enthusiastic interaction and appreciative thanks offered to the musicians.
Friends Boitumelo Mohale and Karabo Motaung, who are medical students at UCT, decided to attend the event after seeing a circular about it doing the rounds.
Jazz on the Lawn on 19 March was part of the celebrations being held to mark the 50-year anniversary of the Irma Stern Museum first opening its doors to the public.
Mohale was not disappointed. “We are enjoying it,” she said. “This is something new for us and the vibe is nice.”
Motaung added: “This is amazing, and also it’s not crowded. The music is just great.”
Arts students Ben Orkin and Seth Kriger were impressed by the setting. “It’s a beautiful event. We’ve been looking for live jazz for a while and we’ve finally found it. We are happy to be here,” said Orkin.
“Irma Stern has a very particular clientele and this event reimagines the space and who can come and enjoy it,” Kriger added.
The open-air concert had the added benefit of introducing the performing artists to a new audience and creating a following. Fourth-year architecture student Solami Nkabinde is a self-professed jazz lover – and now a firm fan of Zinzi Dinginto. “She’s good!”
At the end of the musical programme, audience members meandered into the open museum, learning more about Stern and her work while taking in the serene surroundings and documenting their visit with photographs.
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