South Africa: Cape Town's Orchestra Performs First Live Concert Since Pandemic - - for Groote Schuur's Health Workers

15 September 2021

The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra performed its first concert in front of an audience since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown, outside the main entrance of Groote Schuur Hospital on Wednesday.

The concert was dedicated to frontline health workers nationally, recognising the work that they have done and are still doing. There were a few hundred spectators in the audience, most of them health workers.

Brandon Phillips, the conductor, said that orchestra members wanted to support frontline workers and to help motivate them to "carry on saving the world and saving our people".

He said that a slow piece played during the concert is normally dedicated to family or friends when they pass on. "I put that piece in there to reminisce on what we are going through."

The orchestra also played pieces from the movies The Lion King and Pirates of the Caribbean in order to "uplift everyone", added Phillips.

Carmen Miller, an operational manager in the trauma unit in Groote Schuur, said she appreciated the recognition of the work of health workers. "The health workers are taking lots of strain and it's not easy for them, especially for those who have lost a family member or friend ... and their patients. Sometimes it's very difficult for them to continue," said Miller.

She said she enjoyed the concert. "We were able to let our hair down and just relax and come and jive a little."

Irene Okudoh, a nurse, said that the concert was very "therapeutic" and relaxing compared to her usual day in the hospital, which is normally "hectic". She often starts at 6am and sometimes finishes only at 7pm, and during this time she is very busy.

She said it has become a lot worse since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, as she primarily works with patients who suffer from kidney failure which is sometimes a symptom of having contracted Covid-19.

Louis Heyneman, CEO and artistic director of the orchestra, said that this concert was the perfect opportunity to say thank you to health workers. "We see you, we hear you, we admire you, and we honour you," said Heyneman.

"We have no idea the trauma health workers [are facing]. Without the hard work of health workers all over the world, we would've suffered so much more," said Heyneman.

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