An evening of upbeat classics

2011-02-01 00:00

DURBAN-BORN soprano Bronwen Forbay is headed back to her adopted home of Texas following a two-year stint at the University of KwaZulu-Natal Opera Studio and Choral Academy (Osca) — but before she leaves South African shores she’ll be performing one last time in Pietermaritzburg.

Forbay is one of the featured soloists in Friday night’s Last Night of the Pietermaritzburg Proms, being hosted by the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra in association with Parklane SuperSpar.

She will be singing Czardas from Die Fledermaus and Bernstein’s Candide: Glitter and be Gay.

Speaking to The Witness, Forbay said: “I really enjoy singing in Piet­ermaritzburg … the audiences are so warm. The concert should be a really fun evening.”

Asked about her role as a lecturer in classical voice at Osca as part of her Fulbright Scholarship commitments, she said: “I received the Fulbright in 2000 to 2002 and in the contract, once you have completed your studies, you have to return to your country of origin and give back. I think it’s a wonderful thing. UKZN is my alma mater and I felt strongly that I needed to be here at this time.

“I have loved my time at OSCA. The students have a passion for singing. We have such a wealth of talent and potential in this country when it comes to opera.”

Forbay has performed numerous opera roles over the years, including in Queen of the Night with the Wolf Trap Opera Company, Eugene Opera and Tulsa Opera, where she took over as Queen on short notice; and the American premiere of Telemann’s Orpheus where she received rave reviews in the Washington Post and Washington Times for her portrayal of the dramatic-coloratura role of Orasia, Queen of Thrace.

Last year she was selected as one of 67 singers to participate in the 2010 Seoul International Voice Competition from an original pool of 191 applicants worldwide and enjoyed huge success in the title role in Lucia di Lammermoor with the Cape Town Opera.

She has also performed with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, Baroque 2000 Orchestra (South Africa), Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, Dallas Chamber Orchestra, Manhattan School of Music Percussion Orchestra, Tulsa Philharmonic Orchestra and others.

Asked how the KZNPO compared, Torbay said: “It’s hard to compare orchestras but I really think the KZNPO is so good. We are so privileged to have it.”

In addition to Forbay, the soloists for the Pietermaritzburg concert include Federico Freschi, who will sing Grenada and Finiculi Finicula; Selby Hlangu, who will sing Shosholoza and You’ll Never Walk Alone; and pianists Christopher Duigan and Andrew Warburton, who will, together with award-winning actress Clare Mortimer, perform Saint-Saëns’ much-loved Carnival of the Animals.

The concert — which will take place in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall at 7.30 pm on February 4 — draws inspiration from Britain’s legendary Last Night of The Proms, a concert which concludes a series of daily concerts staged over an eight-week period in the Royal Albert Hall in London, since 1895.

The KZNPO will be conducted by Alexander Fokkens, who impressed at the Symphony in the City in November last year. He told The Witness he was looking forward to returning to the city, adding: “I had a really great time at the last concert and I very much enjoy working with the orchestra.”

Asked what he thought of the programme, which also includes the sing-along tunes, Rule Britannia, Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March (Land of Hope and Glory), Jerusalem, and Amazing Grace, led by a massed choir, he said: “It’s a wonderful mix — a very upbeat programme. I think everyone can look forward to a very enjoyable evening.”

Tickets for the concert range from R90 to R150 (discounts available for students and pensioners). To book phone Jennifer at the Dulce Coffee Shop at 033 342 3487. Secure parking is available in the city hall precinct, Tatham Art Gallery and Bessie Head Library.

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