Musicians complete Robben Island crossing for orchestra’s projects

Double-bassist Zanelle Britz and flautist Louisa Theart, who swam from Robben Island to Big Bay to raise funds for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.

Two Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra musicians completed the crossing from Robben Island to Big Bay in a swim to raise awareness and funds for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) outreach and development programme.

Flautist Louisa Theart, 36, of Wynberg, and double-bassist Zanelle Britz, 37, of Vredehoek, completed the 7.4km swim in three hours and 13 minutes, garnering just over R9 700 as well as 30 instruments, including 11 violins, five clarinets, one cello, one cornet, and seven recorders.

“It started off easy, the conditions were favourable and it was fine, but towards the end the current changed and it was really difficult. I wanted to give up but swimming for a cause like ours is motivating and I’m pleased that I finished this challenge,” said Ms Theart.

“We would appreciate it if more people could contribute to our target of R15 000. Next year we would love to put as many kids as we can onto these instruments,” she said.

Ms Britz agreed with her teammate about the conditions that changed towards the end of the swim.

“It was my third time doing this swim and it’s a long hard swim. We could see the beach and the people but it seemed we were not getting closer as the water was choppy and the current was against us, so that last stretch was tough,” said Ms Britz.

“It was a wonderful feeling finishing and having our friends and family there to cheer for us, that was great. Being in the deep blue water was amazing and seeing Table Mountain on the other side is always a fantastic sight. I’m grateful that I could do this with Louisa and now we have an unbreakable bond,” she said.

On their way from Robben Island to Big Bay, a distance just over seven kilometers.

The duo thanked Elmarie Warrington and the crew who monitored their every stroke and supplied them with drinks every 30 minutes as well as Howard Warrington, who has completed 166 crossings on the same route in the Atlantic ocean, and guided them along the swim.

The funds raised will be used to purchase rosin, strings, clarinet reeds, flip files and paper for music.

The CPO youth programmes include the mother-tongue grassroots Masidlale project, theory and practise for all in CPO Music Academy strings and winds training ensembles, and the flagship Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and CP Youth Wind Ensemble.

From left, Zanelle Britz and Louisa Theart who shed a tear at the end of their swim from Robben Island to Big Bay in aid of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.