Rodney Trudgeon at Maynardville will once again host the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s concerts in the Open-Air Festival, says PETA STEWART

Rodney Trudgeon at Maynardville

Hosting the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s Famously Incidental concerts in the Open-Air Festival at Maynardville in January is like a Christmas present that keeps on giving to Rodney Trudgeon – he’s been researching the music for a while because it is music he particularly enjoys.

The concerts, which will be directed by resident conductor Brandon Phillips, take place on three midsummer evenings from 17 to 19 January 2019 at 8.15pm, times that allow ample time for picnicking in the beautiful park beforehand.

“Incidental music is not restricted as much by form as is, for instance, a symphony or a concerto,” says Trudgeon, “and I love the free flow that offers.”

He goes further: “The combination of music and words which makes up incidental music is about ideal, second only to the music of Wagner which included every aspect of theatre.”

There may be no Wagner on the CPO’s Maynardville programme but there’s a lot to get into, he adds, having researched the back story to each of the works being performed by an orchestra he has nothing but admiration for.

A versatile orchestra and programme

“I admire the versatility of the musicians and the fact that they can play anything with heart and at a very high level. I am looking forward in particular to pieces from Grieg’s Peer Gynt, with its marvelous melodies, so Norwegian at heart and yet so universal,” he admits.

Other works on the programme are by Beethoven (Egmont overture), the scherzo and march from Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream (“you can hear the fairies and donkeys”), Prokofiev’s Lt Kije Suite which was written for the silent comedic film of the same name, but released in the US as The Czar wants to Sleep, Schubert’s Rosamunde (“there’s a particularly good story to this one”), the Farandole from Bizet’s L’Arlesienne and the waltz from Masquerade by Khachaturian.

Trudgeon, who has been the voice of classical concerts in South Africa for 42 years, has been presenting the live broadcasts of the CPO’s concerts on Fine Music Radio for the past two years, and has been the station /programme manager for the last 13. He has also been presenting the CPO’s pre-concert talks for 13 years,  and is now sharing these  with choral conductor John Woodland.

Cape Philharmonic Orchestra

“If I get knocked over by a bus, John can step in to both pre-concert talks and FMR broadcasts. He already has a great following,” smiles Trudgeon.

Radio veteran

Not that Trudgeon is ready to step down – he has many years to go and much to add to the concert ambience in the city and further, since he continues to broadcast a programme on Classic FM in Johannesburg, a station where he worked for five years after leaving the SABC after 25 years.

He’s known not only for his presentation of the breakfast programme on FMR but for his intensely interesting People of Note interviews which cover not only classical musicians like CPO conductors but others in the arts and theatre world. If you missed one, you can find it on a podcast on

Trudgeon has interviewed many of the classical world’s luminaries like Nigel Kennedy, Kiri Te Kanawa and Bernard Haitink, and more recently he has interviewed Pretty Yende, Howard Shelley and Joshua Bell. He wrote programme notes for decades for the Johannesburg Philharmonic, and then for many years for the CPO, many of which are still used.

What:  Famously Incidental

Where and when:   Maynardville Open-Air Festival, Maynardville, on 17 to 19 January 2019

Book: Computicket