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Wednesday, June 22, 2011


“Shuffling” through the Main Music play list of the National Arts Festival, from June 30 to July 10, festival-goers will find everything from “monkipunk” to seriously classical, with an eclectic mix of tunes in-between.

2011 is an important year for classical music with the celebration of the bicentenary of the Hungarian composer Franz Liszt’s birthday in 1811, and it is also the year for remembering Australian pianist and composer, Percy Grainger, who died 50 years ago. 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winner Ben Schoeman performs a variety of Liszt and Grainger’s compositions in his Festival concerts. Schoeman is regarded as one of South Africa’s foremost pianists. He has won the coveted gold medal in the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition in London (2009) and the first grand prize in the UNISA Vodacom International Piano Competition (2008). His solo album with piano music of Franz Liszt was released under the TwoPianists label in April this year, sponsored by Standard Bank.

Schoeman will also perform with The KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) conducted by Richard Cock, in The Gala Concert, with Magdalene Minnaar (soprano). Over the past number of years at the Gala Concert, the NAF has celebrated the anniversaries of many composers and 2011 is no exception. Franz Liszt, the great Hungarian composer and one of the finest “pop stars” of the classical music world, born 200 years ago, is remembered through two of his best know compositions. Ambroise Thomas, also born in 1811, is featured in the overture and two arias which demonstrate his brilliant operatic skills and which provides the chance to hear again these forgotten and often ignored masterpieces. Percy Grainger, the eccentric Australian composer, is featured in one of Schoeman’s solo recitals, and some of those same pieces will be heard again as orchestral versions. The remainder of the programme, which will be introduced by Richard Cock, is made up of fascinating and charming works by a wide range of composers.

Lloyd Webber & Friends sees acclaimed soloists Veramarie Meyer and Nicholas Nicolaidis perform with members of the KZNPO, conducted by Richard Cock. They will sing favourites like Love Changes Everything, Music of the Night, All I Ask of You and Memory, as well as various other classical and contemporary hits.

The KZNPO will also perform a Symphony Concert conducted by Tibor Bogányi, with soloist Jérôme Pernoo. The programme includes Jacques Offenbach’s Concerto for cello in G Major and Johannes Brahms’ Symphony No. 2 in D Major Op. 73.

Capetonian songstress Auriol Hays performs a repertoire that is a collection of mature, classy, alternative pop fused with some jazzy soul wedged between some darker powerful ballads. Her concert at the Festival will feature the hit tracks Take it Slow and Turn up the Volume, both of which have received massive commercial radio success.

Zanta Hofmeyr (violin) and Charl du Plessis (piano) are bringing Beethoven Tango to the Festival, after sell-out performances at most of the other major festivals in the country. Their popular programme includes Kreutzer Sonata for piano and violin by Ludwig van Beethoven, Tango to Go by Astor Piazzolla, Jazz favourites, and a Sting Suite for Violin and Piano.

Hofmeyr is also performing with Morkel Combrink (viola) and Wessel Beukes (cello) in The Goldberg Trio. They will perform Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s Divertimento in E flat, K. 563, among the greatest works ever penned in the realm of chamber music.

The French Institute of South Africa and the Embassy of France South Africa present a double bill The Lectures of Professor Glaçon and Telegrams from the Nose, featuring François Sarhan. Sarhan will lead the way into the creative world of the eccentric Professor Henri-Jacques Glaçon, a wacky and absurd universe filled with stories, videos, collages and musical works.

Somewhere between a musical, video and installation, Telegrams from the Nose is a collaboration between South African artist William Kentridge and French composer François Sarhan, created in 2008. It is a mixture of Russian futurism, poems by Daniil Harms and records of Stalinist trials. The graphical material comes from preparatory studies for the production of Le Nez, by Shostakovich, which Kentridge was preparing for the Metropolitan Opera (2010). The backdrop is a large canvas painted by Kentridge to resemble a collage of newspapers depicting the progress of science.

The Italian Institute of Culture presents the Luca Ciarla Quartet, with Luca Ciarla (violin), Vincent Abbracciante (accordion), Nicola Di Camillo (double bass) and Francesco Savorette (percussion). They have wowed audiences and critics worldwide with their highly original tunes and arrangements, in which classical, contemporary jazz and ethnic music blend together, creating an irresistible Mediterranean jazz sound. They will perform Music by L. Ciarla, D. Gillespie, J.S. Bach, T. Monk, as well as traditional songs.

Samson Diamond (violin), Allan Thompson (clarinet), Anna Wilshire Jones (piano) and Wessel Beukes (cello) will perform the powerful Quartet for the End of Time (Quatuor pour la fin du temps), composed by Olivier Messiaen. In his preface to the score of Quatuor pour la fin du temps, Messiaen cites several verses from chapter 10 of the book of the Revelation of John as the “subject” of the work and its direct inspiration. “I saw a mighty angel descending from heaven, clothed in a cloud, having a rainbow on his head. His face was as the sun, his feet as columns of fire. He placed his right foot on the sea, his left foot on the earth, and, supporting himself on the sea and on the earth, he raised his hand towards Heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, saying: There will be no more Time; but on the day of the trumpet of the seventh angel, the mystery of God will be completed." (Revelation 10:1-2, 5-7; Oxford Annot). The visionary language of the Apocalypse (Greek apokalyptein, “to uncover”) is evoked in the movement titles of Quatuor pour la fin du temps which is one of the most remarkable works to have come out of World War II, composed by a musician whose religious faith was a constant inspiration, even in the most arduous circumstances.

The Diamond Ensemble will perform Franz Schubert’s String Quintet in C Major and Souvenir de Florence, Tchaikovsky's last work for a chamber ensemble. With Samson Diamond and Kabelo Motlhomi on violins, Elbe Roberts and Kate Moore on violas, and Maciej Lacny and Kutlwano Masote on violoncellos.

The Westhuizen Duo presents a duo-piano recital, which includes the staple of the duo-piano repertoire: Rachmaninoff’s monumental Suite No. 2, Op. 17 for Two Pianos. Composed in 1901 in Italy, this work, along with the 2nd Piano Concerto, signalled a return of Rachmaninoff’s creative powers and is every bit as stunning, spectacular, and thrilling as his piano concertos. It Takes Two to Tango by South African composer Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph, written for the Westhuizen Duo, will have its world première at the 2011 National Arts Festival.

Boo! was born in 1997 in the backstreets of Brixton, and became not only one of South Africa’s favourite bands, but also one of the country’s proudest musical exports to Europe and North America. Brandishing their self-styled genre of “monkipunk”, Boo! performed at various European and American festivals with the likes of the White Stripes, Limp Bizkit, Slipknot, Franz Ferdinand, Smashing Pumpkins, Cypress Hill and Coldplay, amongst others. After almost a decade of international success, Ampie Omo and Leon Retief announced their resignation from Boo! in September 2004. Retief continued his career behind the scenes in South African music, and Omo continued his career as a member of ska-outfit Fuzigish. Chris Chameleon surprised his punk pundits by becoming one of the most acclaimed artists in the Afrikaans music landscape, notching up a total of 20 national awards in five years. 2010 saw Boo! emerge again with a change in wardrobe and drummers, with Riaan van Rensburg picking up the sticks. The band set up camp in Amsterdam to record a new album The Three of Us. This is their first National Arts Festival main performance, and Chris Chameleon will also perform solo on the Fringe.

Bookings for this year’s “11 Days of Amaz!ng” is open through Computicket. Booking kits available from selected Standard Bank Branches, selected Exclusive Books and all Computickets. For more information on the programme, click on the banner advert at the top of this page.

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The Eastern Cape Government, The National Arts Council, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, The Sunday Independent and M Net.