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KZNPO CONCERT NOVEMBER 20 (article first published : 2003-11-21)

For their final symphony concert of 2003, in the Durban City Hall on 20 November, the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra presented works by two of the greatest composers, Schubert and Mozart, and were rewarded with a packed house of roughly 1,800 people.

Part of this attendance was probably due to the presence of the Drakensberg Boysí Choir, who have their own built-in support base. The 100-strong choir performed Mozartís magnificent Requiem with the orchestra and four distinguished soloists: Sibongile Mngoma (soprano), Zanele Gumede (mezzo), Delwynne Windell (tenor) and Bongani Vilakazi (bass). The conductor was Leslie Dunner from the United States.

The Requiem, Mozartís last work, contains some of the masterís most profound music, and the demands on the singers are great. The Drakensberg boys, clad in their blue waistcoats and white bibs, showed that they are a well-trained group. Their singing was sharp and accurate. Understandably, there was a certain lack of depth in the bass parts; these are, after all, schoolboys, not mature adults. I found their performance thoroughly enjoyable and marred only by their tendency to sway their bodies from side to side while singing. That swinging may go well with an item from Offenbach but it is entirely inappropriate for Mozartís Requiem.

The four soloists all acquitted themselves well, with the soprano Sibongile Mngoma providing some of the best moments.

By way of complete contrast the orchestra opened the concert with Schubertís delicious early Symphony No. 4 in B flat major. Written for not much more than a chamber orchestra (strings, one flute, two oboes, two bassoons and two horns), this is an irresistibly melodious work. Leslie Dunner took the four movements at brisk tempi, and the orchestra responded with obvious affection for Schubertís music. - Michael Green

Click on the KZNPO advert which appears on artSMart pages and this will take you to the orchestraís website which gives details of the full symphony season as well as other KZNPO activities.




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