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NAF MUSIC PROGRAMME (article first published : 2004-04-6)

The milestone 2004 National Arts Festival opens in Grahamstown on July 1 with an extensive line-up of South African and international events capturing the spirit of the moment for a broad spectrum of audiences. The programme was introduced at a series of media briefings round the country this week and Festival Committee chair Mannie Manim was quoted saying "it is appropriate that the Festival’s 30th birthday should coincide with South Africa’s tenth year of democracy – a social miracle in which the arts played a central role".

A number of the main events from the Rhodes University Centenary celebrations have been timed to coincide with the 2004 National Arts Festival, making Grahamstown the place to be in the first week of July for everyone who is truly proudly South African.

The music programme is extensive, as always.

The KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra is the resident orchestra of the National Arts Festival this year. Combining drama and music, the opera programme features two exotic pieces steaming with love and death. The Cape Town City Opera with the KZNPO will present Angelo Gobbato’s production of The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet set on a beach in ancient Sri Lanka. For Marthinus Basson’s production of Maria de Buenos Aires with a score by that high priest of tango, Astor Piazolla, audiences sashay off to Latin America.

The KZNPO’s 2004 symphony concert will be under the baton of Justus Frantz, director of Germany’s Philharmonie der Nationen. The orchestra will also accompany the ballet Giselle.

For the Rhodes University Centenary Concert, the East Cape Philharmonic Orchestra performs under the baton of David Scarr with pianist Catherine Foxcroft. Music at Versailles is the theme for two concerts by the 20-strong ensemble, Baroque 2000 presented in association with the KZNPO. The lively cello sextet, I Grandi Violoncellisti, will also play two programmes. Two quartets will perform during the National Arts Festival: the Cape Town based Sontonga Quartet, with two concerts, and Germany’s acclaimed Kuss String Quartet. In addition, both groups feature on the New Music Indaba line-up and the Sontongas also form the core of the orchestra for the tango opera Maria de Buenos Aires.

The Kerimov Trio (Boris and Elena Kerimov and Christopher Duigan) will present two recitals of masterpieces from Russia and Eastern Europe. Two novel duos offer audiences the treat of hearing Anneke Lamont and Christopher Duigan playing one piano and cellist Peter Martens musically tête-à-tête with double-bassist Leon Bosch. A piano recital by Inette Swart gives audiences the opportunity to catch this prodigious young talent as she enters the international arena.

To celebrate the 50th birthday of the International Library of African Music, director Andrew Tracey will stage a festive concert. Rare and sometimes ancient indigenous instruments still played in corners of the Eastern Cape beyond the commercial mainstream will feature in more intimate recitals. A choral spectacular will see the SAPS choir from Gelvandale and the Joy of Africa group from Port Elizabeth will sing along with jazz musicians from East London.

Charles Ives, frontiersman of the experimental, is honoured during the fifth New Music Indaba. The line-up includes choral, vocal, chamber, instrumental and electronic works and, by popular demand, a reprieve of the Bow Project 1 & 2 with uhadi bow-singer maestra Madosini.

United in swing, The Standard Bank Joy of Jazz incorporating The National Youth Jazz Festival under director, Alan Webster, will see workshops, concerts and performances, and the line-up will include both the outgoing and incoming National Youth Big Bands. The programme features a bouquet of song by South African Netherlands-based Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner Tutu Puoane and a star-spangled tribute to the late keyboard virtuoso Moses Taiwa Molelekwa, recipient of a posthumous Standard Bank special award. The Blue Heads play a concert of easy-listening jazz written in Paris in the 1950s by renowned visual artist Gerard Sekoto.

The international contingent includes the UK sax legend Dave O’Higgins and vocalist Lee Gibson, Frode Nymo’s Trio from Norway, the USA’s Brubeck Brothers and the Groove Troopers Big Band from Holland. Winston ‘Mankunku’ Ngozi, Feya Faku, James Scholfield, Lulu Gontsana, Zim Ngqawana, Marcus Wyatt, Carlo Mombelli, Kevin Gibson and Andile Yenana are among those playing for the home team.

Booking kits will be available at the beginning of April in time and bookings open on May 10. Further information on the website or phone 046 603 1121. The festival is proudly presented by the Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, SABC and the National Arts Council.




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