IN a first of its kind, those making their way to the Addo Rose and Garden Show this weekend will have the added attraction of enjoying two top musicians presenting an ideally classical touch to the event.
The work of Franz Schubert will fill the valley air as tenor Nicolas Nicolaidis and pianist Mariel Ilusorio take to the stage at Hopefield Country House.
What's more, there is a special shuttle package available that will allow visitors from Port Elizabeth to travel to Addo on Saturday, soak in the flower show and then sit back for the exciting musical experience.
The appropriately titled Schubert and Roses in the Country is the first time that there will be such a mix of a classical concert and the popular annual garden show on offer and organisers are hoping the idea will continue. Theresa Cunliffe of the NMMU music department explained that Nicolaidis and Ilusorio had asked senior lecturer in piano at NMMU and PE Music Society president Dr Erika Bothma if she could arrange something for the two of them.
Hopefield Country House's Kobus Buys got involved by offering a venue that could seat 70 people.
"When it was mentioned that the concert would be on the same day as the Addo show, the idea of offering a package came about," explained Cunliffe.
"It is something different and we are hoping it will take off in the future."
She said Nicolaidis and Ilusorio would perform Schubert's monumental song cycle Die Schöne Müllerin (The Lovely Maid of the Mill).
A Filipino pianist who was educated in New York, Ohio and Germany, Ilusorio has performed solo and in chamber concerts across five continents and currently lives in Grahamstown.
South African-born Nicolaidis completed a BMus degree at Wits University and also furthered his studies at the Royal College of Music in London.
Cunliffe said Die Schöne Müllerin consisted of a setting of 20 poems by Wilhelm Müller and was considered one of Schubert's most important works.
"The piano part bears much of the expressive burden of the work, and is seldom a mere 'accompaniment' to the singer," she said.
"The strong rhythms and evocative language of this song cycle embody the romantic love affair with death that rests at the heart of so much of Schubert's best work."
Cunliffe said the first option for those wishing to attend was to buy a ticket for R200 which would include a concert ticket, an entry ticket to the Addo Show plus transport. A shuttle will leave at midday from the parking area in front of the Embizweni building on the NMMU South Campus. Visitors can enjoy the garden show for two hours before being taken to the lodge where the concert starts at 3.30pm. The second option is to buy a concert ticket for R100 and use your own transport.
Bookings can be made through Cunliffe during office hours on (041)504-2250.