Orchester alla Breve

In July, a new orchestra came into being in Pretoria.

“A la breve” is a musical term meaning, “half-time” or “cut time”.  If a piece of music is counted in 4/4 time (four beats to each bar), but has the “breve” time signature, you really only count every second beat.  The result (or the implication) is that the pace of the piece picks up significantly, even to double speed.

Orchester Alla Breve

Orchester Alla Breve during rehearsal

The “Orchester Alla Breve” is called this because it is populated with professionals:  Performers, teachers, high-level students and to a large part, old players of the PACT and SABC orchestras.  These experienced old hands can heat up a performance in record time.

The conductor, Daniel Keet, is newly graduated; we played his exam pieces with him and the choir master Charlotte with the “Sinkronies” choir, in June.

Yesterday Alla Breve gave their first performance sans choir.  We played:

  • Beethoven 7th Symphony
  • 1st movement of Mendelssohn’s 4th symphony and
  • the Maestoso from Saint-Saens’ Organ symphony.

The performance came off beautifully.

My greatest regret is that despite our efforts of distributing pamphlets and inviting everyone, there wasn’t really a lot of audience.

This seems to be a chronic ailment in Pretoria.  I have to feel quite honoured with my studio concerts that we have about 60% attendance.  There was an event when a world-famous Bulgarian violinist came to visit SA – and about 100 people went to see the performance.

Where ARE you, music lovers in Pretoria?  I know you are out there!  You send your children to us for tuition; but don’t you know that listening to concerts is part of the culture?  Don’t you like live music?

One of the bestest benefits of music is the complete immersion in it, and the “break” you give yourself from your daily hassles and woes as you allow yourself to wander into a different world for that hour or two.

It’s good for your health.

Please, contact me here if you are in or around Pretoria, love classical music and wish to stay updated by email on our concerts!


10 thoughts on “Orchester alla Breve

  1. Wonderful programme. How sad that it wasn’t a full house. I wonder if it would make any difference if the tickets were significantly cheaper? I know that the normal (and admittedly not unreasonable) price of tickets does deter me from attending a lot of such events. A full house at quarter price is better than ten percent of capacity at full price!

    Isn’t that second movement of the Beethoven utterly magical? I worked up a piano version where the opening is done on the left hand, and then the right does the higher counter-melody.

    • It was an amazing programme, and Daniel Keet really brought those pieces to life. I think as interpreting conductor he will become a name to be reckoned with. Agree with you on that slow movement of the 7th symphony. It’s the Mendelssohn I’ve got in my head ever since, though.

      At R100 per adult and R50 per student / pensioner the tickets were certainly not overpriced. The previous concert which included a complete sumptuous banquet was charged at R280 per person; that we did experience as a bit pricey but the meal (and the music) fully justified it. But R80 – 120 (American readers: $8 – $12) are standard prices for concerts in Pretoria; even amateur ensembles will charge that. And this is certainly no amateur ensemble. Local Pop musicians often charge more.

    • Without the pop hyteria as a booster, though, maybe a way to get bottoms on seats would be to try and get the prices right down, maybe thus tempting people who wouldn’t normally consider it. Then a decent proportion might find they enjoyed it enough to be willing to pay more realistic prices in the future.

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