Concerts set for memory

Patrick Maitland.

The final curtain is set to fall on the Memories and Melodies concerts, marking the end of an era for the Maitland family.

In 2003, Cynthia Maitland grew tired of having to schlep all the way to the southern suburbs to see live shows, so she decided to hire out the Bellville civic centre for one Wednesday each month in 2004 to hold musical concerts there.

Buoyed by the positive public response in that first year, she carried on running the concerts until her death in August last year.

Her husband, Patrick, took over, helped by the fact that his meticulous wife had already booked artists for the whole of 2017.

“She was a very organised and detailed person,” he says.

The couple knew nothing about running concerts, but Patrick says his wife had loved the performing arts and her passion had made up for that.

Cynthia used to take him all over to see performances, taking notes of the songs and artists – all to improve the Memories and Melodies concerts.

“We had some good artists over the years. We gradually started improving and lining up better artists.”

Aviva Pelham, Alvon Collison, The Dixie Swingers, The Hungarian Trio, Albi Louw, Bruce Gardiner, Palm Strings, Duo Voci, and the South African Army Band are just some of the performers who graced the Memories and Melodies stage over the years.

Now 85, Patrick says he has had to make the painful decision to stop running the concerts at the end of the year: the numbers have been dwindling and full houses have given way to audiences of about 150 people.

“It takes a lot of time and effort. Cynthia used to phone close to
1 000 people every month to inform them about the concerts.”

Alvon Collison and Faried Swartz will be performing at the civic centre on Wednesday November 15. The last performance will be The Companions 25th Anniversary Concert on Wednesday December 13 and their end-of-year party takes place on the same day.

Anthea Dorman has been going to the concerts for 10 years and is sad they are coming to an end.

“Over the years, I have developed friendships with the people who regularly come to the concerts.

“There is going to be a big gap in my life now – I used to keep my calendar clear for the third Wednesday of every month, for years.”

Patrick is also sad to see the curtain fall on the shows that were something his wife built and loved, but he says he doesn’t have a choice.

“I would like to thank everyone who had so willingly helped to run the concerts. Hennie Olivier, the lighting technician, and Gerard Huizinger, the sound engineer, have always been supportive of our efforts. Our performers have been superb and deserve a special thanks.

“Many have performed at fees that were well below what they normally charged, yet they have always asked to come again. This was because the audience was so appreciative of their performances. I must thank Cynthia, who had the guts to start these concerts with no experience and very little money. She did not know whether they would last a month or a year but she did it.”