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MUSIC REVIVAL CONCERTS AT HILTON ARTS FESTIVAL (article first published : 2008-08-26)

As has become tradition, the annual Witness Hilton Arts Festival always promises a line-up of impressive music in its many forms, organised by Music Revival. A particularly strong line up of classical, instrumental, sacred, acoustic and concert music is on offer at this year’s festival, taking place from September 12 to 14 at Hilton College outside Pietermaritzburg. There are also music-themed workshops and lecture-demos. Of interest to music lovers is the phenomenal drama Master Class with Clare Mortimer about the remarkable life story of Maria Callas. The pulsing rhythms of South American music runs through this year’s concert series and culminates in two performances by the six-piece Festival Tango Ensemble. New faces this year include baritone Njabula Madladla and the Burdukova/Wisniewski Cello-Piano Duo while many will find much enjoyment from festival regulars such as the Kerimov Trio, James Grace, Blue Velvet Strings and jazz pianist Neil Gonsalves.

CONCERT 1: AN EVENING OF SONG: Durban-born baritone Njabula Madladla opens the festival series with a selection of songs. A graduate of the famed Guildhall School of Music in London, Madladla has performed in several of London most prestigious concert venues including Wigmore Hall, Oxford Lieder Festival and the Cheltenham Festival. His studies have been supported by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, the Sir Peter Moores Foundation, Countess of Munster Trust and Music Benevolent Fund. He is a Britten Pears Young Artist, a Samling Foundation Scholar, a prize winner of the Young Kathleen Ferrier Award and The Kenneth Loveland Gift Prize Award. Future engagements include performances in the Ravinia Festival Steans Institute for Young Artists in the summer 2008 and the Hawaii Performing Arts Festival plus further tour recitals in the UK. His performance at Hilton will include music from composers Schumann, Schubert, Duparc, English composers Vaughan Williams and Roger Quilter, together with Spirituals and South African Folk Songs in Zulu and Afrikaans. (September 12 at 18h00 in The Chapel – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 2: GUITAR & PIANO DUEL: classical guitarist James Grace and pianist Christopher Duigan join forces for a spectacular evening of music featuring the exciting combination of piano and guitar. With both instruments performing comfortably in a solo capacity, and neither taking the obvious melodic lead, the interplay is one of equals, or rivals! As little original repertoire exists for this combination, the performers have devised much of the content themselves from many different musical genres. Their programme features music from the Latin world including Black Orpheus, Tico Tico, Piazzolla's Libertango and Oblivion as well as contemporary pieces by film-music composer Richard Guinness and the flamenco-inspired show-stopper La Fiesta. (September 12 at 20h00 in School Dining Hall – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 3: CLASSICAL PIANO – BEETHOVEN SONATAS: Christopher Duigan, one of South Africa's leading concert pianists, plays a classical piano recital focussing on two works of Ludwig van Beethoven. This recital combines the famed Waldstein Sonata op 53 in C major, celebrated for its open-ended optimism, brilliance and uplifting lyricism and the last of Beethoven’s monumental 32 Piano sonatas, op 111 in C minor. This work is cast in two contrasted movements, one of dramatic and impassioned searching and the other the most contemplative and otherworldly soundscapes that finds a voice for the composer’s most personal thoughts and penetrative imagination, typical of the works from the composer’s final years. Duigan is the recipient of several of South Africa's most prestigious awards and competitions and currently maintains an enviable performing schedule on South Africa’s premier concert stages. (September 13 at 10h00 in The Chapel – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 4: GUITAR RECITAL: JAMES GRACE: The brilliant young guitarist James Grace has played to packed houses for recitals in KZN and at the Festival last year. Always an audience favourite, his charisma, charm and fresh, sensitive performances leave audiences wanting more. A recipient of the prestigious Tagore Gold Medal awarded to the most outstanding student at the Royal College of Music, James is currently based in Cape Town and this year performs solo recitals in major cities in South Africa plus concerto engagements with the Johannesburg Philharmonic and KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestras. James will perform a varied and idiomatic selection of South American music from his forthcoming CD, in keeping with the Festival Concert Series theme. (September 12 at 12h00 in The Chapel – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 5: PIANO QUARTETS – MOZART & SCHUMANN: Creating an inspired classical programme in the festival series, members of the Blue Velvet Strings - Ralica Cherneva ( violin), Valentina Koleva ( viola) and Cecilia de Cecco ( cello) with Christopher Duigan (piano) - perform two quartets for violin, viola, cello and piano. These are Mozart's Piano Quartet No 1 in G minor and Schumann's Piano Quartet op 47. Graduates of Conservatoires in Sofia in Bulgaria and Florence in Italy, the string players are members of the KwaZulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and make their debut appearance for the Hilton Festival. This promises an uplifting treat for lovers of classical chamber music that offers much musical interplay and interaction of the highest order. (September 13 at 14h00 in The Chapel – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 6: FROM RUSSIA TO RIO WITH THE KERIMOV TRIO: Always a welcome entry to the Hilton Festival , the Kerimov Trio perform once again with their unstoppable energy. This selection, a dynamic highlights package of recent programmes, is set to showcase the same passion, flare and performance brilliance that has become synonymous with these performers. The trio Elena Kerimova (violin), Boris Kerimov (cello) and Christopher Duigan (piano) have earned a enviable reputation for phenomenal performances especially regarding Kerimov’s renditions of soulful melodies and wife, Elena’s stunning beguiling violin virtuosity. With music from earthy Russian folk songs - Dark Eyes, Kalinka, Two Guitars - to Moldavian Train Song, If I were a Rich Man, Brahms Hungarian Dance No 5, and Brazilian and Argentine tango crossover, the programme is performed with the same red-hot flair, passion and dramatic spirit that accompanies these performers. (September 13 at 19h30 in The School Dining Hall – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 7: JAZZ NIGHT WITH NEIL GONSALVES: Neil Gonsalves on acoustic piano explores the jazz idiom in the continuing Latin American theme with guest artists on bass and drums. The repertoire is broad and wide ranging with a selection of standards and original compositions. Gonsalves is a graduate of UKZN and is currently on their teaching staff. He has performed regularly with top South African jazz musicians and recently recorded a CD in Sweden. (September 13 at 20h30 in Campbell Hall: Tops – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 8: TANGO DANCE NIGHT: Tango Nights, a production by the Festival Tango Ensemble, led by internationally recognised tango expert, Stanislav Angelov (accordion and bandoneon), perform dance music on a tango theme in the dining hall, creating an uniquely authentic tango café scenario. The six-piece all-star ensemble also includes James Grace (guitar), Christopher Duigan (piano), Andreas Kappen (double bass) with Valentina Koleva and Ralica Cherneva (violins) adding seductive charm. The ensemble performs a popular selection of traditional dance tango. This includes La Cumparsita, El Choclo, Hernando’s Hideaway, Jealousy, Payadora and dance music by Astor Piazzolla. A small dance floor is available for those who feel moved by the sultry rhythms and wish to tango the night away to a red-hot live performance. (September 13 at 21h00 in The School Dining Hall – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 9: AVE MARIA - MUSIC FOR A SUNDAY MORNING: Enjoy a beautiful moment away from the buzz of the festival with a centred and balanced classical performance for violin, cello and piano with the Kerimov Trio. Beginning with a selection of celebrated settings of Ave Maria by Bach– Gounod, Schubert, Caccini and Piazzolla, they continue with elegant strains of music by Mozart and send audiences on to their next festival production with the Trio for violin, cello and piano by Brazilian Heitor Villa-Lobos. This last work combines all the earthy rhythms and impassioned lyricism of the composer’s most popular works. A varied and enlightening programme to delight with a broad range of spirit and energy. (September 14 at 10h00 in The Chapel – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 10: PIETERMARITZBURG YOUTH CHOIR: The PMB and Midlands Youth Choir was formed in 2007 in response to a perceived need for such a group in the KZN Midlands. Its membership comprises pupils from a variety of schools in Pietermaritzburg and the surrounding areas. This young ensemble has performed at a variety of events and is beginning to become known in the area. Musical standards are rising as a result of dedicated hard work and the choir is looking forward to a tour of Argentina over Easter next year. The choir is directed by Rykie Boeke, assisted by Patrick Harty. (September 14 at 12h00 in The Chapel – 60 mins. Tickets R40)

CONCERT 11: PLAY, PIANO, PLAY! An appealing selection with a contemporary cross-cultural slant - Play, Piano Play! is the newest offering from innovative concert pianist Christopher Duigan. Exploring the varied roles the piano has played in many world cultures, and across many musical genres, this original selection makes the piano sing, dance and jump! Pushing the piano, and the pianist, to the limit Duigan includes Gershwin's own transcriptions of his popular songs My One and Only and Someone to Watch Over Me, music by film composers Dave Grusin from The Firm, Michael Nyman from The Piano and Yann Tiersen from Amelie. In addition, classics JS Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring arranged by Myra Hess and Franz Liszt's Liebestraume No 3 rub shoulders with Scott Joplin's popular rag Elite Syncopations, Brazilian tango by Ernesto Nazareth and music by Moskowksi, Richard Guinness and Chopin. A must for lovers of piano music in any style. (September 14 at 13h30 in The Chapel – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 12: CELLO AND PIANO RECITAL: Polina Burdakova (cello) and Kerryn Hendy (piano). n 1992, Polina and Kerryn shared the Overall Winner Prize at the ABSA Youth Competition. Years later, after meeting up again in 2005, the Burdukova/Wisniewski Cello-Piano Duo was created. This is a combination of two award-winning and critically acclaimed musicians who have been successfully performing together since 2005. The Duo has played for UNISA Concert Series, Friends of Music in Durban, Grahamstown Music Society and others. In 2007, they were invited for a series of concerts at the Aardklop National Arts Festival in Potchefstroom and the ABSA Klein Karoo National Arts Festival in Oudtshoorn. The Duo made a successful European debut In 2008 – performing in Italy and Spain. Russian born Polina started her education in the prestigious Gnessin’s music schools in Moscow later immigrating to South Africa with her family in 1991. In 2004, she was a recipient of SAMRO Award. South African born Kerryn Wisniewski started piano and cello lessons at the age of five. In 1997, she was the winner of the UNISA Overseas Music Scholarship which lead to studies in Prague. She is an accomplished chamber musician and a member of Sempre Viva Trio. They play Schumann’s Fantasiestucke, Shostakovich’s Cello and Piano Sonata and Chopin’s Introduction and Polonaise brilante. (September 14 at 15h00 in The Chapel – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

CONCERT 13: TANGO DEL FUEGO PIAZZOLLA INSPIRED: Music Revival presents an extravaganza not to be missed with a concert performance performed by Festival Tango Ensemble. This six-piece ensemble features the leader of the renowned Cape Town Tango Ensemble and internationally recognised tango expert, Stanislav Anguelov (accordion). Anguelov is joined by James Grace (guitar), Christopher Duigan (piano) plus Ralica Cherneva and Valentina Koleva (violins) and Andreas Kappen (double bass). Their programme selection focuses on the’ nueovo tango’ of Argentinean Astor Piazzolla whose music has become a worldwide phenomenon on international stages in recent years. Piazzolla’s musical style revolutionized the traditional tango into a new style termed nuevo tango, incorporating elements from jazz and classical music. Alternating gritty tango rhythms and harsh, angular melodic figures with slow sections that make use of freely poetic lyrical solos allowing strong expressive identity of each individual musician, the style is both rugged and intricate, sensitive and demonic. Included are several of Piazzolla's most widely acclaimed compositions; Adios Nonino, Milonga del ángel, Resurreción del ángel, Oblivion and Otono Porteno. Also included is traditional milonga and tango by Carlos Gardel and Julian Plaza. A spectacular musical event that will not leave one un-affected. (September 14 at 16h30 in The Chapel – 60 mins. Tickets R80)

Organised by Music Revival, the music programme is sponsored by DISTELL Foundation, UNISA Music Foundation, MR Woollam and Assoc. - Insurance Brokers, Venn, Nemeth & Hart - Attorneys and The Kawai Piano Studio, KZN. CDs on sale at the Chapel door. It is strongly advised you book your accommodation early at one of the many B&Bs and hotels in the area. Booking kits will be available from selected SPAR Stores in KZN. Kits can also be collected from Exclusive Books (La Lucia, Pavilion, Liberty Mall and Gateway), Adams in Musgrave Centre and Durban town, Cascades Bookshop and the Witness offices in Pietermaritzburg, and the Hilton College Theatre. Also from The ArtStand at Essenwood Craft Market and leading galleries and theatre foyers. For more information or a full programme and booking kit – visit www.artslink.co.za/hilton or the Hilton Festival hotline on theatre@hiltoncollege.com or phone 033 3830126




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