This year’s expansive Festival programme traverses a gamut of experiences from orchestral performances to solo-voice opera – leaving classical music lovers well catered for.
Intermingled with the standard fare is some innovative programming such as a unique opportunity to experience Stockhausen’s multi-media conception, Mantra.
Standard Bank Young Artist Award Winner, Simon Diamond’s recital negotiates romantic expressivity with modernist creativity. Diamond, alongside the popular and rivetingly talented saxophonist, Shannon Mowday, will appear as soloists in the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra’s Gala Concert programme of evergreen works.
The presence of two international performers, the German based South African born Jeremy Joseph (organ) and the London based German-born Florian Uhlig (piano) paves the way for the re-emergence of the National Arts Festival as an international contender in classical music circles. Joseph’s two recitals, highlighting staple diet organ repertory, should be an exciting not-to-be-missed event. Similarly, Uhlig’s conservative programming (Beethoven, Schumann and Liszt) should doubtlessly appeal, with his appearance as concerto soloist with the CPO surely the highlight for many festival goers. Providing that the CPO bring their ‘A’ team up from Cape Town (please let’s not have a repeat of 2008’s misfortunes), this year’s Symphony Concert promises to be a phenomenal event.
Variations of SA composers
South African composers are showcased in the Cello-Piano Duo’s (Polina Burukova and Kerryn Wisniewski) first of two programmes. Ugubu, a work by Hans Huyssen (who took the festival by storm last year) forms part of this imaginatively programmed event.
Apart from this cello-piano duo chamber music is well served with Pretoria-based Zanta Hofmeyer appearing as the backbone in two vastly contrasting contributions: a string trio arrangement of Bach’s Goldberg Variations and a programme highlighting the music of Russian master, Dimitri Shostakovich.
The growth of orchestral string-playing musicianship will be mirrored in performances given by the National Youth Orchestra: Strings. Under the assured direction of Swedish maestro, Fredrik Burstedt, assisted by Baroque performance practice expert, John Reid Coulter, their three programmes promise to be worthwhile events.
Seasoned professional performers Christopher Duigan (piano) and Michelle Veenemans (voice) bring their talents to the festival stage with some crowd-pleasing though uninspiring programming.
Topping my list of ‘must-see’ classical music Fringe productions are the creditable vocal duo Shirilaulu (100 Tongues), Hoërskool Randburg and African Youth Ensemble (South African Echoes), Wits Choir (Charting Africa) and notably the one-woman opera La Voix Humaine/The Human Voice.
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