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FRIENDS OF MUSIC - RISING STARS (article first published : 2003-12-4)

For their last concert of the year, at the Durban Jewish Centre on December 2, the Friends of Music presented their annual Rising Stars programme, featuring young people who show promise as instrumentalists and singers.

This time there were 14 performers and a programme of 24 items. It would be unwise to pass critical judgment on teenagers who have musical talent but who have at present to concentrate on other matters as well, such as passing their school exams. Music is a hard discipline, and there is a big gap between professionals who work at it for several hours a day and youngsters like these who fit in practice among other activities.

What is highly encouraging is the fact that the schools and private teachers do provide recreational opportunities which go beyond the sports fields and the classroom itself. Not all these 14 are likely to become skilful professional players but all of them are likely to play or sing for the rest of their lives and derive incalculable enjoyment from that.

The audience, consisting largely of parents and friends, were given a varied programme, perhaps almost too varied at times. I think Fats Waller was a wonderfully entertaining pianist, but it is a little odd to put Ainít Misbehaving immediately after a Bach prelude and fugue and a Brahms intermezzo. Likewise the boogie-woogie item that followed Rachmaninovís celebrated Prelude in C sharp minor. But there were some little-known and really attractive pieces by Honegger, Poulenc and Gordon Jacob.

The programme notes included an interesting update on last yearís Rising Stars, 13 of them. Several are studying music at university, but others are working towards careers in science and business. - Michael Green




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