South Africa: Jazz On the Lawn arouses the enthusiasm of music lovers

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 sun in the idyllic setting of the museum’s lush secret garden.

The March 19 musical event was part of celebrations marking the 50th anniversary of the art museum’s opening to the public.

Irma Stern was a prominent South African painter, sculptor and ceramicist. The Firs, the large Edwardian estate on Cecil Road in Rosebank, Cape Town, which is now the Irma Stern Museum, was Stern’s home and personal sanctuary, as well as his studio, until his death in 1966.

Organizers of the Jazz on the Lawn event have targeted the musical experience in the University of Cape Town (UCT) residence community that surrounds the museum. With the event sold out in advance, there was no doubting the strong appeal of the outdoor concert — so much so that organizers are now considering making it a regular fixture on the campus calendar.

Meeting expectations

The musical lineup included recent UCT College of Music graduates: saxophonist Georgia Jones, vocalist Zinzi Dinginto and guitarist Matthew Mentor.

Dinginto dedicated their set to the theme of love and featured 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 relax, especially on a Saturday because it’s not too serious.”

“It’s a great event. We’ve been looking for live jazz for a while and we finally found it.”

She added that she enjoyed the “out of the ordinary” setting in which she performed.

Mentor echoed those sentiments. “It was a laid back atmosphere and the audience was really interactive. I hope to play this kind of event again,” he said.

There were 52 people present and many came prepared with picnic blankets and baskets. They were obviously open and receptive to the musical experience given their enthusiastic interaction and the grateful thanks offered to the musicians.

Appreciative audience

Friends Boitumelo Mohale and Karabo Motaung, who are medical students at UCT, decided to attend the event after seeing a flyer about it going around.

Jazz on the Lawn on March 19 was part of celebrations held to mark the 50th anniversary of the Irma Stern Museum’s opening to the public.

Mohale was not disappointed. “We take advantage of it,” she said. “It’s something new for us and the atmosphere is nice.”

Motaung added, “It’s amazing, and it’s not too crowded. The music is just great.”

Arts students Ben Orkin and Seth Kriger were impressed with the setting. “It’s a great event. We’ve been looking for live jazz for a while and finally found it. We’re happy to be here,” Orkin said.

“Irma Stern has a very special clientele and this event reinvents the space and who can come and enjoy it,” added Kriger.

The outdoor concert had the added benefit of introducing the performers to a new audience and creating a following. A fourth-year architecture student, Solami Nkabinde is a self-proclaimed jazz lover – and now an avid Zinzi Dinginto fan. “She is good!”

At the end of the musical program, members of the public strolled through the open museum, learning more about Stern and his work while enjoying the serene surroundings and documenting their visit with photographs.

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