Deborah Wai Kapohe has long been a friend and supporter of the Sarjeant Gallery and the Sarjeant's redevelopment project.

She is the brains behind the very successful Musicians for the Sarjeant series of concerts held at the gallery which have raised significant funds for the redevelopment over the past four years.

Two years ago Deborah relocated from Whanganui to Franschhoek on the Western Cape of South Africa but has returned several times to visit friends and family in Whanganui and to perform at the Sarjeant.

Deborah was scheduled to be in New Zealand again this July and a concert was scheduled, but due to the Covid-19 travel restrictions her visit was cancelled.


Not to be deterred, Deborah has filmed the concert from her lockdown bubble in Franschhoek and it is now available in full and free on the Sarjeant Gallery website.


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The concert includes the songs and arias Deborah was anticipating performing in Whanganui with an introduction, explanations and background. It is recorded inside a stunning art gallery at the Grande Provence Heritage Wine Estate in Franschhoek.

South Africa is in full lockdown and movement is severely restricted. Deborah lives on a large farm which is home to several other families who occupy the same bubble.
"We are not allowed to go out except for essentials (supermarket, emergency visits to the doctor and vet etc) and there is a curfew overnight.

"The army has been deployed. Strict measures have been taken to free up hospital beds, for example, no alcohol or cigarettes are allowed to be sold or distributed (alcohol causes a lot of crime and people share tobacco). However, as of May 1, lockdown restrictions have slightly eased to begin the cautious opening up of the economy"

Deborah Wai Kapohe ... filmed concert in Covid bubble
Deborah Wai Kapohe ... filmed concert in Covid bubble

Deborah walks the farm daily and has been working on her music from 10am until 6pm six days a week as she prepares to open a music school in the local township when the COVID 19 situation allows.

"The focus during lockdown has been on my music."

Deborah's Musicians for the Sarjeant concert showcases some of her first experiments singing a 'florid repertoire' and artists such as Donizetti and Bellini.


"This repertoire is not about loudness and drama, it is about beauty and fireworks. It requires a refinement of the voice. In this respect, the guitar has been a good rehearsal accompaniment for this repertoire".

Lockdown has provided the opportunity to polish our skills.

"Filming this Musicians for the Sarjeant concert has helped me eliminate some of the bad habits I have when I sing. I have learnt a lot."

Deborah's own personal highlight from her Musicians for the Sarjeant concert is the aria from Lucia di Lammermoor.

"The aria consists of a slow and fast section. It is taxing, especially to self-accompany. I felt really happy to make it to the end of the piece!"

Sarjeant Happenings
Sarjeant Happenings

Asked what lockdown has been like for her, Deborah sites a renewed sense of gratitude.


"I am grateful for every meal. I am grateful for every progress I make on my music. I am grateful for the outstanding beauty of South Africa. I feel very privileged to be a guest in this amazing country during such a difficult time"

To listen to the Deborah Wai Kapohe Musicians for the Sarjeant concert go to (