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NAF MUSIC (article first published : 2006-03-20)

The National Arts Festival takes place in Grahamstown from June 29 to July 8. (See story in Festivals) The Main music programme is as follows:

An all-Mozart programme with the eminent Johannesburg Festival Orchestra under the baton of Richard Cock honours Mozart’s birthday 250 years ago. The orchestra will present his first and last symphonies (No.1 K 16 and No.41 in C K 551 ‘Jupiter’) and the Concerto in C major K 487 with pianist Catherine Foxcroft as the soloist.

Two accomplished choirs, The Chanticleer Singers and the Sdasa Chorale, will perform Mozart’s Requiem Mass along with a new work by the inimitable Mokale Koapeng commissioned by the Festival to commemorate the events of 1976.

In another concert, The Chanticleer Singers have included a second Mozart mass in a programme with works by Baroque court musician Heinrich Schütz and twentieth century English composer Gerald Finzi. The Sontonga Quartet have dedicated one of their two concerts to Mozart. They will perform Adagio and Fugue in C minor K 546, Clarinet Quintet K 581 (with Mathew Reid on clarinet) and String Quartet in G major K 387. Their second concert is a late-night event and includes Henryk Gorecki’s String Quartet No. 2 Quasi una Fantasia.

The New Music Indaba programme re-imagines the great Amadeus with the South African première of John Cage's 1969 audiovisual masterpiece HPSCHD (based on Mozart's Musical Dice Game) and presents new realisations of the same work with commissions from Carlo Mombelli, Paul Hanmer, Martin Scherzinger, Nishlyn Ramanna, Mokale Koapeng, David Kosviner, Surendran Reddy and Aryan Kaganof in dialogue, as it were, with Mozart.

Spicing the banquet with variety, the Main Festival Music programme also offers festinos the rare opportunity to hear all of Bach’s six suites for Violoncello Solo in two recitals by Peter Martens, principal cellist of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra.

Lovers of Baroque can always rely on the Festival for a special treat. This year it is a performance of André Campra’s opera ballet L'Europe Galante (Gentle Europa) performed by Durban’s Baroque 2000 orchestra with musical direction by Chiara Banchini and original choreography by Boyzie Cekwana. Three singers and two dancers will appear with the orchestra.

The Kerimov Trio – Elena Kerimova (violin), Boris Kerimov (cello) and Christopher Duigan (piano) – are joined by baritone Federico Freschi for a feast of tangos, beguiling gypsy melodies and classical gems. In another concert, Freschi and Duigan celebrate the art of French song with a selection of evergreen favourites and well-loved works by Fauré, Debussy and Ravel and opera arias from Gounod’s Faust and Bizet’s Carmen.

The glories of the singing voice are aired in the three remaining concerts. The Sdasa Chorale under the leadership of Mokale Koapeng will remind festinos why we love their repertoire of close harmony gospel arrangements, African-American spirituals, rhythm-and-blues numbers and indigenous vocal music. Some of the finest voices in the Eastern Cape come together to perform Christian Ngqobe’s Ibali Lomculo-Jesus: Life and Crucifixion with an indigenous orchestra. Choral ‘Jazz’ Spectacular showcases the talents of three top choirs from Mthatha, Queenstown and East London who join forces with a group of jazz musicians to present vibrant indigenous pieces.

Along with the experimental Mozart component, the New Music Indaba 2006 honours the Shostakovich centenary in two concerts by the world-renowned Fitzwilliam Quartet. A full programme also features some of Europe’s finest performers – including the Stockholm Sax Quartet, Ensemble Acrobat (Salzburg Mozarteum), Trio Rothko (Eire), Fitzwilliam Quartet (UK) and Daan Vandewalle (Belgium).

Michael Blake, Nishlynn Ramanna, Benjamin Fourie, Jill Richards and the Egoli Wind Quintet, the Kerimov Trio and the Gauteng Choristers are among the South African performers.

Booking opens in May. For more information on the National Arts Festival, contact 046 603 1103/1164, fax 046 622 3082 or e-mail: naf@foundation.org.za or visit www.nafest.co.za

The Festival is supported by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, the Eastern Cape Government, Standard Bank, SABC and the National Arts Council.




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