Spectacular music at summer symphony

2013-01-10 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra is celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2013 and is kicking off the celebrations with a spectacular Summer Symphony Season in the Durban City Hall on February 7.

Bongani Tembe, artistic director and chief executive of the KZNPO, said the season was designed to “enhance the musical experience of all concert-goers”.

Since its inaugural concert in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on October 22, 1983, the KZNPO has established itself as a musical force to be reckoned with and, as an ensemble, willing to break down preconceived notions of what an orchestra should be.

It is made up of 70 full-time professional musicians from over 20 countries, including South Africa, the United States, Russia, Bulgaria, Norway, Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.

Tembe said: “We are very proud to be celebrating our 30th anniversary ... This is a significant milestone in the South African arts world and demonstrates the cohesive force that music has become among our diverse cultures.

“As we reflect on the KZN Philharmonic’s magical musical journey through these 30 years, I focus on three key components of our existence: our loyal audiences, whom I sincerely thank for sharing this rich tapestry with us; our funders, including government organisations and individuals, to whom I express our immense gratitude for ensuring our financial sustainability; and, most importantly, our musicians, without whom we could not exist.”

During the coming year, the orchestra will, in addition to its usual Symphony Season concerts and visits to Pietermaritzburg, play host to the South African leg of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s world tour which marks the Amsterdam-based orchestra’s 125th anniversary.

They will perform three concerts in Cape Town, Durban and Pretoria, and as part of the KZNPO’s ethos of benefiting previously disadvantaged, but talented, youngsters, the RCO will also perform in Soweto and Umlazi, and conduct master classes in Cape Town.

The Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra’s Durban concert takes place in the city hall at 7 pm on March 10.

The programme, which will be conducted by Charles Dutoit and features violinist Janine Jansen, includes Johan Wagenaar’s Overture Cyrano de Bergerac, op. 23; Peter I. Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto, op. 35; and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, op. 68.

Tickets for this concert, which is not part of the Summer Symphony Season, are available from Computicket and range in price from R250 to R750.

SUMMER SYMPHONY TREATS

The Summer Symphony Season kicks off at 7.30 pm on February 7 with a concert titled T he World Orchestra partners the KZNPO, in which members of the KZNPO will perform alongside the talented young musicians of the World Orchestra led by maestro Josep Vincent.

The programme will include Dvorák’s Carnival Overture Op. 92, Barber’s Adagio for Strings, Hofmeyr’s Partita Africana and excerpts from Sergei Prokofiev’s masterful ballet Romeo and Juliet.

The World Orchestra traces its roots to the aftermath of World War 2, when Igor Markievich, inspired by the legacy of Sir Robert Mayer’s concerts for youth, began to organise international youth orchestras to inspire peace and hope for the future.

True to its origins, the World Orchestra, under the leadership of maestro Vincent, is made up of young musicians from all over the world and has been designated as an Artist for Peace by Unesco.

The KZNPO’s Valentine’s Day concert, on February 14, will be conducted by Daniel Boico, and features violinist Anna Tifu and guitarist Pablo Sáinz Villegas.

The concert will open with Mozart’s rousing overture from his famous opera Le Nozze di Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro), after which Tifu, from Italy, will perform Bruch’s first violin concerto.

With its mix of excitement and melodic tranquillity, it’s sure to be a gem. Sáinz Villegas will then treat audiences to Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto De Aranjuez, before the orchestra closes the evening’s proceedings with a performance of the orchestral suite from Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.

On February 21, concertgoers can look forward to a concert titled French Connection, which will again be conducted by Boico and features Russian pianist Yulianna Avdeeva.

On the programme is Franck’s Symphonic Variations, Chopin’s Piano Concerto No. 2; and Bizet’s Symphony No. 1 in C major.

BRITISH CLASSICS

On February 28, the orchestra will celebrate Benjamin Britten’s 100th anniversary by performing the composer’s Four Sea Interludes from Peter Grimes and his Concerto for Violin No. 1.

Britten stands out as one of the central figures in 20th-century British classical music. He was talented and prolific, as well as versatile, with pieces ranging from a cappella choral works to concerti and operas.

During the concert — which will be conducted by the music director of Symphony Nova Scotia, Bernhard Gueller — the KZNPO will also perform Beethoven’s Prometheus Overture and Symphony No. 8.

The soloist for the evening is renowned French violinist Philippe Graffin.

On March 7, the KNZPO’s resident conductor, Naum Rousine will conduct a programme titled Fairy Tales and Praises, and which includes Engelbert Humperdink’s Hansel & Gretel Overture, Antonin Dvorák’s Concerto for Piano and Qinisela Sibisi’s I hubo/Psalm 47.

The overture to Humperdinck’s most famous opera is an adaptation of the famous fairy tale about the misadventures of two young children who stumble across a witch’s lair in the woods.

The music reflects the pastoral setting of the story, as well as the strong influence of the music of Richard Wagner.

The guest soloist for the evening is Lukas Vondracek, one of the most prodigiously talented young pianists of his generation.

Singing Sibisi’s work will be Khumbuzile Dlamini (soprano), Ntokozo Nokubeka (alto), Monwabisi Lindi (tenor), Mthunzi Nokubeka (baritone) and the Clermont Community Choir and Thokozani Choral Society.

Skilfully combining the influences of traditional Zulu music with Western classical, Sibisi forges an exciting new path for both traditions.

Sibisi has collaborated with the KZNPO before, working with orchestral conductors and composers under an initiative to produce new large-scale works for chorus and orchestra.

WORLD MUSIC TOUR

The season ends on March 14 with a tribute to Brics fifth world summit.

The concert, which pays tribute to the Brics countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — will be conducted by En Shao and promises to take concertgoers on a journey round the world.

The first stop is India, with an arrangement by Michael Hankinson of the traditional Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram (Unity of All Religions.)

This Hindu song was loved by Mahatma Gandhi and was sung on the famous Salt March protest against colonial rule.

Next up is Brazil with the music of composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. In his Bachianas Brasileiras No. 3 for piano and orchestra, Villa Lobos melds together Bach-inspired baroque techniques with the sounds of Brazilian folk music.

The tour ends in Russia with Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 2, the Little Russian.

Tchaikovsky’s use of Ukrainian folk melodies garnered the symphony’s nickname because at the time the Ukraine was commonly referred to as “Little Russia”.

Full of joy and exuberance, the Second Symphony has been a hit with critics and audiences alike since its premiere in 1873.

Individual tickets for the Summer Symphony Season range from R45 to R200, with concessions for students and pensioners. These tickets can be bought through Computicket or at the door.

Subscription tickets for the whole season range from R200 to R900 (concessions available).

For more information, phone 031 369 9404 or 031 369 9438, e-mail bookings@kznpo.co.za or log on to www.kznpo.co.za

• arts@witness.co.za

PRE-CONCERT talks take place at the Playhouse Alhambra Room (situated across the road from the city hall) in Durban on Thursday evenings.

Entry to the talks, which are hosted in conjunction with the Friends of Music, are R10.

Refreshments are available for purchase in the foyer of the city hall after the talk.

Speakers for the Summer Symphony Season are:

• February 7 — Ted Brien;

• February 14 — Dr Teddy Pillay;

• February 21 — Christopher Duigan;

• February 28 — Michael Green;

• March 7 — Michael Green; and

• March 14 — Michael Green.

THE final rehearsals for World Symphony Series concerts are open to the public and provide a glimpse into the preparation for a symphony concert. Join the KZNPO on Thursdays at 10 am in the Durban City Hall. Entrance costs R30 (R10 concessions), which includes a cup of tea.

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