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KZNPO CONCERT: 1 MARCH 2007 (article first published : 2007-03-4)

This was not a symphony concert in any sense of the term. It was an evening of operatic excerpts and, judging by the applause, it gave great pleasure to a biggish audience in the Durban City Hall. And the audience included many faces not usually seen at the KZN Philharmonic Orchestraís concerts, which of course is all to the good.

The soloist and undisputed star of the event was the outstanding Korean soprano Ji-Hyun Park, who had made a great impression at her Friends of Music recital two days earlier. Once again she displayed a glorious and well-trained voice, overcoming various technical hurdles with power and grace.

The programme consisted of 12 items, two each from Bellini, Mozart, Delibes, Rossini, Verdi and Donizetti, with Ji-Hyun Park singing in six of them. Most of it was familiar material - Verdiís Caro Nome (Rigoletto), Rossiniís Una voce poco fa (Barber of Seville), for example - but some numbers went further of the beaten track, such as Belliniís Norma overture, which produced some excellent playing from the orchestra.

Ji-Hyun Park is a confident, mature artist, and she sang with great conviction and skill in a wide variety of arias. The audience listened in rapt silence, except when they applauded in the middle of the Bell Song from Delibesís Lakme, thinking that the song had ended.

The encores included, appropriately enough, an Afrikaans liedjie.

The orchestra was conducted by Naum Rousine, who is usually seen among the first violins, and the players responded admirably to his careful and sympathetic leadership. - Michael Green




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