|Johannesburg should be renamed Joyhannesburg, says Richard Cock, the popular conductor who organised Accenture's Winter Festival at Emmarentia Dam, which brought outdoor weekend concerts to thousands of residents.|
"I like to think of myself as a purveyor of joy to the city," says Cock.
That isn't difficult when you spend a good deal of your time arranging concerts for the city's residents to enjoy, as he does.
And he gets a lot of joy from living in the city. "If you look over the northern suburbs you just see trees. And the city has interesting architecture and an interesting history."
Cock lists his recommendations of the city as: climate, vibrancy, good restaurants, friendly people and an easy place to slot into.
He goes on to describe Johannesburg as "an entrepreneur's city", where the city and its residents don't get in your way. "The city is big enough to make opportunities available for anyone who wants to start anything - an orchestra or a choir, for example."
He puts this down to the history of the city - a gold mining town of tin shanties just 115 years ago, and now a city bigger than New York and London, with the biggest stock exchange in Africa.
Cock lives in Parkhurst in the northern suburbs, which he describes as "a village", where there are 10 restaurants within walking distance of his house. He always feels safe in the suburb, although living anywhere in Johannesburg, residents "have to be aware of what's going on around them", he adds.
A "Joburger by adoption", Cock has spent 21 years in the city. He was born in Port Elizabeth, schooled in Cape Town, and after spending time overseas, settled in Johannesburg.
He is director of Music Enterprises and runs the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, which was formed four years ago from the defunct National Symphony Orchestra. It is a "freelance orchestra" - the members are only paid when they work, and a lot of that work is for corporates.
Cock recently organised the successful Accenture Winter Festival at Emmarentia gardens, a mix of music and song running from May to August. He is involved in the Nation Building Massed Choir Festival which performed at the Standard Bank Arena on Sunday, September 16, with a choir of 1 000 voices, and is planning a series of chamber concerts and talks at Northwards, one of Johannesburg's oldest houses.