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Saturday, September 10, 2011


An integral and much anticipated component of the annual Witness Hilton Arts Festival is the Music Revival concert series. Now in its 19th year, the festival will take place in the beautiful grounds of Hilton College from September 16 to 18, 2011.

The Witness Hilton Arts Festival is broadly considered to be KZN's foremost arts and culture festival which consistently produces a sterling programme of cutting-edge drama, comedy, music and cabaret, as well as an impressive array of arts and crafts appealing to all who visit the festival each year.

The Music Revival series has been part of the festival for ten years offering festinos a carefully chosen mix of fine music. "This year the focus is on new and young talent, and fresh innovative ideas," says Music Revival’s Christopher Duigan.

September 16 at 20h00: Phantom of the Opera (1925) Silent movie with organ improvisation - Zorada Temmingh. Some 80 years ago, director Rupert Julian and actor Lon Chaney understood that true horror comes from character and surroundings. There have been many subsequent versions based on Gaston Leroux's novel, but none have surpassed this silent classic. It's an oft-told tale: lovely Christine (Mary Philbin) is a fine singer with a most devoted fan. Christine believes the melodic voice coming through the walls of her dressing room is a guardian angel, but it is mad Erik, filled with love for her and vengeance for anyone who gets in her way. Restored in 1992, this definitive version of Phantom can be seen in nearly all of its former glory, including the full colour Masque of the Red Death sequence that had audiences gasping in their seats. Since the story is set in the Paris Opera House and the Phantom himself plays the organ in the film, Zorada Temmingh bases her improvisation on music from Gounod's Faust and a variety of other 19th century operas. Stellenbosch organist Zorada Temmingh has become known as South Africa's leading organ improviser. She was the first South African to release a solo CD of organ improvisations (Linguis Angelorum) and also the first South African to improvise an organ soundtrack for a silent film, The Hunchback of Notre Dame (2005). Zorada performs regularly as organist and pianist at arts festivals countrywide. The concert takes place in The Chapel, duration 60 mins, tickets R90.

September 17 at 10h00: Sound Beginnings. Young local performers in concert. Preparing a stage for young and talented local musicians this production focuses on a number of talented schoolgoers in one varied concert and was first presented in association with the Hilton College Theatre, Following auditions held at various KZN Midlands schools, the concert brings together a number of 'up and coming' performers deserving recognition and exposure and provides a much-needed platform at the Hilton Festival. Co-ordinated and introduced by Concert Series Director, Christopher Duigan, who collaborates on stage with selected performers, this concert will showcase both the cream of local classical instrumentalists as well as singer/songwriters in original material, including the super-talented Ruby Gill. The concert takes place in The Chapel, duration 60 mins, tickets R80.

September 17 at 12h00: Liszt Vs Liszt. Following his exploration of the music of Frederic Chopin last year, Steinway virtuoso Christopher Duigan returns to the Hilton Festival with an outstanding programme of music by Franz Liszt. The greatest pianist of all-time, Hungarian-born Franz Liszt (1811-1886) represented extraordinary technical and musical virtuosity. The first in this series of Liszt performances in 2011, on the 200th anniversary of his birth, includes a sequence of thrilling performance pieces and popular compositions: Liebestraume No 3, Hungarian Rhapsodies Nos. 2 and 12 a well as Concert Studies La Campanella, La Leggierezza and Harmonies du Soir. Liszt's transcription from Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor along with music that represents the varied styles of Liszt's composing and piano playing completes the selection. The concert takes place in The Chapel, duration 60 mins, tickets R80.

September 17 at 14h00: Piano Passion. A truly amazing feast of piano music, pianos and pianists and - for anyone who likes any kind of piano music - music for two, four, six and eight hands at one or two pianos! Introducing three young KZN pianists; Lloyd Blackbeard, Ewan Slabber (14) and Rashalia Pather (17), piano students of Liezl-Maret Jacobs in Durban, the three young pianists collaborate with and perform under the guidance of KZN concert pianists Andrew Warburton and Christopher Duigan in this celebration of all things pianistic. The selection of music includes Smetana's Rondo and the jaunty Califf of Baghdad Overture for eight hands, Qui vive Galop for six hands, and Schubert's popular March Militaire for four hands, providing an entertaining and enlightening presentation promoting young talent in collaboration with world-class professionals in a varied and fun concert. Plus there is music for, as expected, two hands, and also one hand! The concert takes place in The Chapel, duration 60 mins, tickets R80.

September 17 at 18h00: Last Night of the Hilton Proms. A visit to the popular Last Night of the Proms concept has now become an annual event at Hilton following the previous year's whopping performances. Together with choirs from Hilton College and Herschel Girls School, Cape Town, this gathering of soloists offers festival goers an impressive line-up. Sing along in the Hilton College Chapel to the rousing anthems Land of Hope and Glory, Rule Britannia and I Vow to Thee, My Country. Festival soloists offer a variety of performances including classical guitarist James Grace, KZN resident and newcomer soprano Fae Evelyn, now studying at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, singing popular operatic arias - Je Veux Vivre from Romeo and Juliette by Gounod, and the much-loved O mio Babbino by Puccini – and a short interlude from the entertaining eight-handed two piano music featured in the Piano Passion programme earlier in the day. Christopher Duigan plays Liszt's dazzling La Campanella inspired by the legendary violinist Nicola Paganini, as well as La Danza at two pianos with piano Andrew Warburton, plus music for guitar and piano with James Grace . An outstanding and varied musical celebration where the audience is encouraged to join in. The concert takes place in The Chapel, duration 60 mins, tickets R80.

September 18 at 12h00: Mozart & Beethoven Wind Quintets. This programme of classical masterpieces featuring four orchestral wind instruments combined with piano sets the tone for a magnificent festival Sunday. Young soloists from the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra; Kirsten Sayers (clarinet), Maggi Deppe (oboe), Marian van Duyker (French horn) and Anele Mnguni (bassoon) are joined by Christopher Duigan (piano) to play the Wind Quintets by Ludwig van Beethoven and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Shortly after the premiere of his Quintet in E-flat major K452 in March 1784 at the Imperial and Royal National Court Theatre in Vienna, Mozart wrote to his father: "I myself consider it to be the best thing I have written in my life." This music was the inspiration for the 26 year-old Ludwig van Beethoven, who composed his Quintet, op 16 some 12 years later. Beethoven's expansive style is clearly evident in this music. A newcomer to Vienna, the youthful Beethoven had quickly made his mark, dazzling all with his amazing ability as pianist and improviser, and his brilliantly original compositions. The concert takes place in The Chapel, duration 60 mins, tickets R80.

September 18 at 14h00: 'Hot' Guitar and Piano. Acclaimed guitarist, two time SAMA nominee, KANNA Award winner for Best Male Artist at the 2010 KKNK, 2011 KykNET Fiesta award winner and widely acknowledged as one of the hardest working concerts artists in South Africa, James Grace performs highlights from his award-winning catalogue of CDs including Music of Spain, Café Latino and World Café. James is joined by Christopher Duigan at the piano for selected new items from their ongoing collaboration of improvised guitar and piano music, exploring the tango, jazz and contemporary film music genres. The concert takes place in The Chapel, duration 60 mins, tickets R80.

September 18 at 16h00: A 21st Century Piano Recital on the 10th anniversary of the Music Revival Concert Series at the Witness Hilton Arts Festival, concert director and pianist Christopher Duigan explores the relevance of, and possibilities for, a classically-trained concert pianist in a modern age. With unprecedented access to a greater variety of recorded music than ever before, a modern audience enjoys an unlimited range of music. As such, listeners are easily exposed to music that crosses over boundaries of genre, culture, style, and time. The modern 'piano recital' must surely reflect this accessibility, not only for pianists, but also for the audience for whom they are playing. Christopher Duigan rises to this challenge in this carefully curated selection of music from a varied number of sources that cut across a range of intentions, styles, cultures and times. In a presentation that is entertaining, enlightening and uplifting he will play music by traditional classical composers like Franz Liszt and JS Bach along with music by the King of ragtime, Scott Joplin, as well as traditional and 'nuevo' tango, and contemporary film music. Widely regarded as one of South Africa's leading and most innovative concert artists, Duigan was invited in 2010 to the Steinway Artists Roster, joining some of the worlds most celebrated pianists. The concert takes place in The Chapel, duration 60 mins, tickets R80.

In addition to the Music Revival series, acclaimed guitarist James Grace presents an in-depth insight into the history and development of the classical guitar, from its modest beginnings as a four-string instrument, to the modern day concert instrument we are all familiar with today. In The World of the Guitar, James will discuss the many guitar techniques that have evolved through the ages, and demonstrate how these are used in the repertoire - particularly those from the Spanish folk tradition of Flamenco. This presentation will appeal to music lovers in general, and specifically to those who often, after having seen James perform, ask; "how does he do that?!" The concert takes place in the B Lecture Theatre at 10h30. Duration 60 mins. Tickets R50.

Booking is open with the full programme on Detailed information can be found on or phone 033 383 0126 /7. Info will also be found on the East Coast Radio website. It is strongly advised you book your accommodation early at one of the many B&Bs and hotels in the area.

The festival would not be possible without: The Witness, East Coast Radio, Grindrod Bank, SAPPI, SPAR, TOPS, Black Coffee, Nedbank, Budget, SAB, Star Hire, KZN Dept of Arts & Culture