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“Sehnsucht” is a German word described by famous author C.S. Lewis as “the inconsolable longing in the human heart for we know not what”. It is a longing, a yearning, a craving for something or someone. The word originates from an impassioned, whole-hearted longing (das Sehnen) combined with an addiction (die Sucht). While it played an integral role in C.S. Lewis’ pilgrimage to his Christian faith, its universal essence of longing and desire encapsulates feelings of wanderlust, unrequited love and reciprocated love in the poetry of Heyduk, Rückert, Heine, Hart, MacKay, Stevenson and Lord Tennyson, amongst others, as well as the music of Dvorak, Schumann, Richard Strauss, Brahms, Vaughan Williams and Roger Quilter.

This concept of Sehnsucht is the cornerstone of an arts project devised by Dr Conroy Cupido, vocal lecturer at the NWU School of Music, in which musicians and visual artists collaborate to examine and interpret this idea. Visual artists Marna de Wet, Kevin du Plessis, Jean Lampen and Eljana van der Merwe were each assigned a minimum of four songs with the task of illustrating elements of Sehnsucht that occur in the poetry and music.

The culmination of this project is the annual Dean’s Concert on Tuesday 26 May 2015 at 19:30 in the Conservatory Hall where baritone Conroy Cupido, accompanied on piano by his colleague, Tinus Botha, will perform the selected songs. During the concert the text of the songs will be presented together with photographs of the art work(s) representing each song. The audience will therefore enjoy a complete and simultaneous sensory experience of the text, music and visual art. The concert is supported by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts.

A few days prior to and after the concert, from 21 to 29 May 2015, an exhibition of the art works will be presented at the NWU Botanical Garden Gallery, with a description of each artist’s process for the creation of the work, the poetry of the art song in English, and a listening station with recordings of the art songs as performed by Conroy Cupido and Tinus Botha. Another exhibition will also take place on 6 August 2015 at the Art Lovers Gallery in Long Street, Pretoria.

Further information on the project and artists involved can be seen at the Sehnsucht Project 2015 page on Facebook.

Tickets for the concert at R75/R50 are available at the Conservatory in Thabo Mbeki Drive (tel. 018-299-1692), PUK Arts in the Heimat Building (F9) on the university campus (tel. 018-299-2844), Protea Bookshop on the Bult (tel. 018-297-1583), online at www.artema.co.za and www.facebook.com/NWU.Music, or 30 minutes before the concert at the box office.