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Tuesday, October 18, 2011


(Maestro Arjan Tien)

Something Old, Something New, the theme of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic’s upcoming Spring Season Concert on October 20, casts a net across three centuries of music. This stretches from the late 18th century world of Mozart to the mesmerising ethos of early 20th century Zulu songs by Princess Magogo kaDinuZulu, and then steps back to embrace one of 19th century Europe’s symphonic masterworks, Brahms’ third symphony.

The evening marks the welcome return to the KZN Philharmonic podium for the final three concerts of the season by Arjan Tien. The popular Netherlands-born maestro opens next Thursday’s programme with Mozart’s Overture to Così fan tutte.

The third work of genius in Mozart’s celebrated trilogy of masterpieces written to libretti by Lorenzo da Ponte, closely following Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, has long since reclaimed its rightful place among the world’s most sublime and sophisticated musical creations. This renaissance followed more than a century of posthumous misrepresentation by pedants who failed to perceive the subtleties of Mozart’s genius throughout the work, which point to the implicit heartbreak behind the perceived frivolities of its plot.

The quicksilver writing of this enchanting opera’s mercurial overture provides an air of excitement and expectation that effectively serves as a ‘theatrical’ curtain-raiser to the centrepiece of the evening’s programme.

This unveils the heart-stopping beauty and mystery of Princess Magogo’s isiZulu song cycle, Haya, Mntwan’ Omkhulu! (Sing, Princess!), which artistically formed the nucleus of the fully-fledged opera that premiered in 2002 named after its creator, who in her lifetime became internationally renowned as a singer and composer.

The songs are performed here by contemporary South Africa’s ‘First Lady of Song’, the acclaimed mezzo soprano, Sibongile Khumalo, who commissioned SAMRO to develop the songs into an opera. The evening’s performance marks an artistic reunion between Ms Khumalo and Maestro Tien, following their recording of the songs a few years ago.

After interval Brahms’ Symphony No 3 in F major offers concert-goers the prospect of enjoying one of the most admired works in the repertoire. The work was written in the summer of 1883 at Wiesbaden, nearly six years after Brahms completed his Second Symphony. In the interim he had written some of his most celebrated masterworks, including the Violin Concerto, the Tragic Overture, the Academic Festival Overture, and the Second Piano Concerto.

Its creation was during a period in his life when Brahms had come to terms with himself as an artist and a man, and the F Major Symphony represents the full flowering of its composer’s creative powers in all its majesty. This new-found confidence can be seen in the freedom and ease with which Brahms emotionally transcends the traditional structure of the work, which in itself observes the orthodox succession of four movements, conservatively marked Allegro con brio, an intensely lyrical Andante, an exuberant Poco allegretto and the final Allegro, which ends serenely with one of music’s great ‘sunset moments’.

Booking for this unforgettable experience is through Computicket on 0861 915 8000 or online at

A pre-concert lecture, presented in association with Friends of Music, will take place in the Royal Hotel at 18h15. Booking again at Computicket.)