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FESTIVAL MUSIC (article first published : 2003-05-18)

The National Arts Festival is presented by the Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and National Arts Council. The Festival began in 1974 as a project of the Grahamstown Foundation and has since grown to be one of the leading arts festivals in southern Africa. In 2002, the Festival was renamed the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown and is now an independent Section 21 company.

This year’s festival takes place in Grahamstown from June 27 to July 5. The music programme planned contains a wide variety of top events.

At 15, Japanese violin wunderkind Ryu Goto has already performed numerous sell-out concerts and recitals in Japan and has gone on to take the US concert scene by storm. He makes a special appearance playing Sibelius and Bartók with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO).

In its second year as the Festival’s resident orchestra The KZNPO celebrates its 20th anniversary. Arjan Tien conducts the Ryu Goto symphony concert and Lyk Temmingh takes up the baton for a second concert of light classics including Strauss waltzes, a tribute to Sinatra and hits from the great musicals. The KZNPO will also accompany Cape Town City Ballet’s Swan Lake during the Festival.

In addition to the Ryo Goto performance, strings feature in several other programme items. Baroque 2000, one of KZN’s leading ensembles comprises a core of 12 string players who team up with additional musicians for specific works. Their programme includes masterpieces from the Baroque era (1600-1750). The Rosamunde String Quartet (first violin Denise Sutton, second violin Suzanne Martens, viola player Jean-Louise Moolman and cellist Marian Lewin) is joined by cellist Peter Martins for a concert of works by Boccherini and Schubert. A performance includes the Quartet’s personal favourites and light classics – a Scot Joplin rag and a tango are part of the parcel.

The Trio Hermanay (cellist Marian Lewin, pianist Malcolm Nay and flautist Helen Vosloo) plays work by a range of composers from Haydn to Bartók. Flute takes centre stage along with the recorder in an electrifying performance by Mexican maestro Horacio Franco accompanied by his countryman Victor Flores on double bass. Their programme is titled From Bach to the Beatles.

Two powerful piano recitals complete the main instrumental programme for Festival 2003.

Pride of Israel, Aviram Reichert has earned resounding critical acclaim at home and in Europe, the USA, Japan and Korea. He will play works by Beethoven, Skriabin and Chopin. Internationally renowned South African pianist Jill Richards is joined by Mathilda Hornsveld for a recital of piano duos by Mozart, Rachmaninov and Grainger.

The vocal programme is headlined by Standard Bank Young Artist award-winner Angela Gilbert accompanied by Christopher Duigan. In the midst of a dizzying international career trajectory, this extraordinary soprano comes home to sing opera favourites by Handel, Orff, Puccini and Verdi, among others. South Africa’s First Lady of song, Sibongile Khumalo, has titled her commemorative Festival concert Ten Years On, in honour of her 1993 Young Artist Award.

Richard Cock’s accomplished chamber choir, The Chanticleer Singers, are billed for two performances, one including major pieces from the early twentieth century, and the other highlighting choral compositions by South Africans. Christopher Cockburn accompanies them on one of Grahamstown’s finest old organs. Steve Dyer, Louis Mhlanga, Eric van der Westen and Rocco de Villiers lead the ear off the classical beat into the creative wonderland of improvisation.

Son of the Soil, a multi media jazz performance by the Steve Dyer Ensemble (piano, bass, drums and keyboard with Dyer’s hypnotic flute and sax) features video-streamed live and pre-filmed images choreographed by Kurt Egelhof. Zimbabwe-born jazz singer and guitarist Louis Mhlanga plays a selection from his new CD with Dutch bassist Eric van der Westen. After an interval, Mhlanga is joined by his South African band for a tour through the hits from Shamwari and his Duo album.

Pianist Rocco de Villiers with Graeme Currie on bass and Juan Oosthuizen on guitar, fizz up retro sounds with champagne bubbles as they perform Rocco originals and reprieve the ’60s favourites preferred by party animals in Sophiatown and the Afrikaans clubs of the day.

The 2003 National Arts Festival Booking Kit is available from selected Standard Bank branches and some Computicket outlets. Booking opens on 12 May at Computicket nationwide.




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