Warm congratulations to AJ Bethke, who has been granted a post-doctoral fellowship at UNISA to study for two years. This means he will be leaving the College of the Transfiguration, but to the delight of all concerned, he will be staying here, and continuing as Director of Music of the Cathedral.
The National Arts Festival ran from 2-12 July, and it was a joy to welcome visitors from all over the country, old friends and new, and family members. Richard Antrobus came from Cape Town to perform, this time on the Main Festival programme. He was involved in three productions: a reprise of “Being Norm”, “Dreams”, and “Suggestion Box”. This last saw Richard encased in a small transparent box in an open space on the Village Green or the Drostdy Lawn, accepting challenges from members of the public around him to mime subjects of their choice. As he could stand in the box, but there was no room to lie full-length, it was particularly impressive to see him achieve a hand-stand!
Canon Bob Clarke’s widow Maggy and all their descendents were present at the service of Choral Evensong on the first Friday of the Festival, at which the Lady Chapel altarpiece, given in his memory, was dedicated: Beccy Stones and her three children from Johannesburg, and Helen Averbuch with her husband and two children from Port Alfred. Also present from the Keiskamma Arts Project in Hamburg were the designer of the tapestry, all the embroiderers, and even the young woman who was the model for the Virgin Mary in the picture. The Cathedral choir under AJ Bethke sang mainly South African music, much of it composed by AJ himself.
AJ, who hosted his parents and other relatives during the Festival, was kept busy. He gave two organ recitals, and conducted the Rhodes Chamber Choir in two concerts, as well as the Cathedral Choir at the Evensong, and smaller groups which sang at the Festival Eucharist and at the candlelit Lucernarium. The St Michael’s Marimbas under Penny Whitford gave two concerts, and tours of the bell tower conducted by Catherine Letcher and other bell ringers proved so popular that on the last day an extra tour had to be laid on.
The preacher at the first Festival Eucharist was Dr Vicentia Kgabe, Rector of the College of the Transfiguration, and at the second Rob Penrith, Chaplain of the Diocesan School for Girls.
Four lovely paintings by the late Alexandria artist Deon Lemmer were on display in the Cathedral during the Festival. Most unfortunately the equipment bought to display a video on the South Wall created by local artist Paul Greenway was not set up satisfactorily in time for the Festival. Apologies to all who had hoped to see “Psalm 19”.
This year the involvement of other Grahamstown churches in Spiritfest widened. As previously the Presbyterians hosted Gospel Africa. The Baptist Church provided a base for the Operation Mobilisation artists who were exhibiting and witnessing in the Cory Room. The Spiritfest Winter School lectures were arranged by the Jesuit Institute, and moved to St Patrick’s Church. This made it possible for the Chapter House to be used as a Coffee Shop, which was open all the time the Cathedral was open to the public, and was especially appreciated after the 9.30 Sunday services. The Open Mic session in the Chapter House was a friendly occasion, with the guests seated at decorated tables, some of them sipping tea and nibbling cake. The numerous participants were young and old, and came from near and far, many bringing original poetry which they were keen to offer. Emcee Claire Hunter, who had been dubious whether the event should be repeated given the small attendance last year, was overjoyed with the response.
Prayers are asked for Mluleki Mize, the Priest-in-Charge of St Philip’s Grahamstown, whose wife Vuyiswa died suddenly on 30 July. We pray also for Dinah Flani, the Cathedral office cleaner, on the death of her sister Gladys Kalilana.
Millicent Armitage went to Gauteng to have a knee replacement operation, which was successful. We pray for her as she copes with the pain and gets up on her feet again, and for Roger Embling who has also undergone a knee replacement. Gareth Walwyn had an eye operation with almost instant miraculous results, correcting his eyesight so radically that he has been able to discard the spectacles he has worn for many years.
Di and Brian Harvey have a new granddaughter born in Cape Town, and went to meet her. We rejoice with Kerry Jane Gutridge on the occasion of her 60th birthday on 13 July, and pray for her health. The Festival was not yet over when Charles Antrobus flew off to Canada, to enjoy a holiday with his sister Shirley Horan and her husband Mark and three sons. Sister Carol and Mother Zelma have been in England, visiting Associates and Oblates of the Community of the Resurrection, and making individual retreats. Their visits overlapped just long enough for them both to be present at the annual CR festival service at St Peter’s Bourne in London on 11 July.
Ndzonzelelo Yili’s three months at the Cathedral came to an end, and we bade farewell to him on 26 July. Due to sickness and a family bereavement he had not been able to take part in as many of the Cathedral services as had been hoped, so he may return at a later stage.
The Big Hymn Sing, now an annual event organised by the music staff at Kingswood College, took place in the Cathedral on the evening of Sunday 26 July. Apart from the Cathedral Choir, the choirs involved were all from local schools: Kingswood Junior and Senior, Victoria Primary, DSG and St Andrew’s College. The hymns were accompanied by the Kingswood Concert Band, and the Cathedral was packed to capacity.