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Saturday, January 17, 2009


Pic: Pallavi Mahidhara

KZNPO Summer season offers starry line-up of guest artists. (Report by William Charlton-Perkins)

Concertgoers in Durban can look forward to a starry line-up of guest artists and some mainstream programming in the weeks ahead, with a few ‘exotics’ thrown in to add leaven to the mix.

The KZN Philharmonic launches its seven-concert 2009 World Symphony Series Season Summer in the Durban City Hall on February 5, 2009. The noted young Japanese conductor Yasuo Shinozaki takes the podium for a popular programme featuring Dvořák’s Carnival Overture and New World Symphony, with Saint Saëns’ dazzling Piano Concerto No 2 spotlighting the 21 year-old pianist Pallavi Mahidhara in her Durban debut.

Mahidhara made her orchestral debut at the age of 10 and she has garnered prizes in several national competitions in the U.S.A. She subsequently appeared with the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington DC), Chicago Symphony Orchestra, China National Symphony Orchestra and Asturias National Orchestra (Spain), among others.

Last year she was awarded fourth place at the Unisa International Piano Competition, as well as the prize for Best Romantic Concerto and the Audience Prize. She is also an active chamber musician and in 2006 she was awarded “Most Promising Young Pianist” at the prestigious Verbier Academy in Switzerland. She is completing her fourth year as a full-scholarship student at the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia.

Israeli maestro Omri Hadari will be back in Durban for the following two weeks. On February 12, he conducts Rossini’s sparkling L’Italiana in Algeri Overture, along with two works by Mendelssohn, the Concerto for Piano and Violin (featuring the London-based German pianist Florian Uhlig making a welcome return to our stage, opposite SA violinist Zoë Beyers), and the much-loved Italian Symphony.

Barber’s perennial Adagio for Strings serves as a prelude to Mendelssohn’s E Minor Violin Concerto (with soloist Barnabas Kelemen) on February 19, with Elgar’s Enigma Variations completing the evening’s fare.

Yasuo Shinozaki returns for the following two Thursday concerts, conducting Verdi’s I Vespri Siciliani Overture and Paganini’s bravura Violin Concerto No 1 (soloist Ilya Gringolts), with Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition on February 26; and an all Mozart programme featuring Die Zauberflöte Overture, the Piano Concerto No 18 (with soloist Alexej Gorlatch) and the popular Symphony No 41 ‘The Jupiter’ on March 5.

Naum Rousine conducts the eclectic programme set for March 12. This features Haydn’s Symphony no 45 ‘Farewell’, followed by Vevek Ram’s Concerto for Sitar and Tabla and Strings, with the composer playing the sitar opposite Haren Tana on tabla. Rodrigo’s atmospheric Concierto de Aranjuez opens the second half of the evening’s fare (with James Grace as the guitar soloist). Bizet’s ever-popular Carmen Suite No 1 brings the evening to a rousing close.

Lykele Temmingh winds up the season on March 19, conducting Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture, with Haydn’s C Major Cello Concerto starring Berthine van Schoor in her local debut. The KNPO shows its paces in the second half of the programme, with Ippolitov-Ivanov’s Caucasian Sketches and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite (1919).

Ticket prices range from R60 to R180, with discounted tickets for pensioners and students. There are discounts of up to 25% for subscription bookings of four concerts or more. For more information visit the KZNPO website at To book call 031 369 9404.

Meanwhile, Durban’s starved opera enthusiasts can see superstar soprano Renée Fleming in one of her most alluring roles. Filmed just weeks ago in New York during the Metropolitan Opera’s current season, Massenet’s Thaïs is currently showing at Cinema Nouveau until January 29. Conducted by Jesús López-Cobos, the production features baritone Thomas Hampson as the besotted monk, Athanaël, who falls prey to la Fleming as the Egyptian courtesan in search of spiritual awakening. Not to be missed. - William Charlton-Perkins