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BIG ENERGY ON OUR MUSIC SCENE (article first published : 2007-05-21)

Great to have the KZNPO in full concert season stride again, opening this evening with Finland's musical icon Sibelius boldly programmed wall to wall, promising an evening of heroic listening. The ever popular Finlandia is the curtain opener, followed by the greatly rewarding Violin Concerto, with visiting soloist Sergey Ortrovsky the soloist, that gripping magnum opus, the Symphony No 3 rounding up the evening. Arjan Tien is at the helm for the first of three consecutive Thursday evening appearances, celebrating 10 years of guest conducting in this town.

Next week we have Mozart's Figaro Overture and his magisterial C Minor Piano Concerto No 24 with Dror Biran at the keyboard, followed by everyone's favourite, Beethoven's Pastorale . Enthusiasts might care to catch the pre-concert talks at the Royal, starting at 18h15.

On May 19 at 19h30, the KZNPO and the South African Society of Music Teachers (SASMT) present a concert showcasing the talent of various young KZN performers in the Playhouse's Drama Theatre - something of an offbeat choice acoustically. In all, 15 young people will benefit from the opportunity of performing with the Orchestra under the baton of Naum Rousine.

One of the soloists, Aristide du Plessis, plays with the KZN Youth Orchestra and has performed before with the KZNPO, whilst Melissa Hoover is part of the KZNPO's cadetship programme. Several of the young artists due to appear are OSCA students at the UKZN's Opera School. The evening's programme features music by Mozart including the first movement of his Flute Concerto No.1 in G (K313), as well as the Champagne Aria from Don Giovanni. Lisa's Aria from Tchaikovsky Pique Dame will be sung in the original Russian by OSCA student, Nqobile Khuzwayo.

Laura Osorhean, a nine year-old pupil at Glenwood Preparatory (and incidentally daughter of the KZNPO's Associate Concertmaster, Violetta and Principal French Horn, Sorin), will play the first movement from Vivaldi's Concerto for Violin in G Major. Another young violinist, William Chin, is no stranger to Durban audiences as he has performed at the Last Night of the Proms Concert as well as the Rotary Pops concert in the Durban City Hall both under the baton of Richard Cock.

Both the first and second half of the concert will end in grand style with the Finale of Schumann's Piano Concerto in A Minor played by Catherine Friggens and the Third Movement of Saint SaŽns's Piano Concerto No.2 played by Tsu-Shiuan Lin. All in all it promises to be a night to remember for these youngsters and concert goers' support will be strongly appreciated. Tickets, which are available through Playhouse Booking office or from Computicket, are priced at either R40 for adults or R25 for senior citizens and students. For further information please contact Robert Petersen at the KZN Philharmonic on 031 369 9436.

It is heartening to report that Juan Burgers, Durban's absentee expert on the choral music front, is back in residence our province and has been working extensively with community choirs over the past few months, after teaching at Cape Town University for the last four years. Besides his heavy schedule of choral coaching, work shopping, solo teaching and arts consulting for the KZN Department of Education, and working with South African Choral Eisteddfod among other initiatives, Burgers is deep in the throes of composing an opera about the life of Nelson Mandela.

A sample of this will be heard soon by an invited audience at the annual African Renaissance Gala concert on May 25, when Burgers will accompany baritone Nicholas Ndadane in a sneak preview performance of a pivotal scene from his new composition, Nkosi Albert Luthuli's Acceptance Speech Aria. Having heard a number of rehearsals of this scene, this writer anticipates a powerful response to the composition's richly soaring melodic vein. More of Burgers in action anon.

Clearly, in the wake of the many positive responses given to OSCA's recent Phelelani Mnomiya concerts, a spirit of creativity is in the air among our own locally based composers. All strength to their pens. Ė William Charlton-Perkins




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