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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

KZN RISING STARS (article first published : 2001-12-17)

Twenty young performers appeared at this most enjoyable concert at the Durban Jewish Club. The first nine, not listed formally on the programme, were Prelude Performers, an admirable innovation by Friends of Music, the idea being to display talent from the disadvantaged sectors. In this case it was an isicathamiya group led by Chris Ntuli and they gave two indigenous songs in the a cappella (church) unaccompanied style, with hand and foot movements for good measure. These young voices have been well trained, and their rich harmony and animated presentation evoked much applause from a big audience.

This was literally a hard act to follow but the 11 young Rising Stars, all of them school pupils, did very well in a varied programme. Marina Solomon showed grace and expertise at the harp in works by Handel and Carlos Salzedo, a 20th century harp virtuoso. Her twin brother David gave trombone pieces by French composer Alexandre Guilmant and by Rimsky-Korsakov.

Another family appearance was by Keshree and Meruschka Pillay, sisters, who played four-hand piano works by Handel (the robust and rhythmical Entry of the Queen of Sheba) and Debussy.

Sarah Pudifin, a very good, poised and assured violinist, played a lovely romance by Shostakovich and the rarely-heard Brahms C minor Scherzo. Another player who impressed was Madeleine Shama in a movement from the Undine flute sonata by the German composer Carl Reinecke (1824-1910), a fine work that has been recorded by the ultimate flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal. Madeleine’s performance was enhanced by Andrew Warburton’s expert handling of the complex piano part.

The remaining talented youngsters were another violinist, Bruce Williams; two pianists, Chen-Ming Wang and Claire Wright; and two sopranos, Sarah Brandon and Ronette Bodenstein. All of them gave much pleasure in their performances.

There were times during the evening when one wondered whether some of these young people might not have been better advised to choose less ambitious works for public performance. But then, as Robert Browning observed, a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for? – Michael Green




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