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Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Young performers were all a credit to their teachers. (Review by Michael Green)
Ten young local performers displayed their skills at the Durban Jewish Centre in this annual end-of-the-year Friends of Music concert called Rising Stars.

Five pianists, a violinist, two sopranos and two wind players appeared before a large audience composed largely, I guess, of family and friends. The artists ranged in age from 15 to 17, all but two of them were girls, and there was the usual substantial representation of performers who appeared to have a background of the East.

I was impressed by the technical ability, obvious sense of dedication, and platform poise of all of them. They are a credit to their teachers, and without exception they showed the kind of promise that could lead to big things in the future.

The choice of items for the programme was interesting, and ambitious. For a 15-year-old to play a movement from Beethoven’s Op. 109 sonata, one of the greatest works in the entire repertory, was a bold undertaking, as was the choice of a 17-year-old, the third of Liszt’s Petrarch Sonnets.

The programme also seemed to reflect a determined effort to have variety. The aforesaid Beethoven was followed (the same pianist) by a Jazz Impromptu by Alexander Johnson, who teaches music at the University of Pretoria. This seemed an unusual juxtaposition.

A soprano gave us one of Hugo Wolf’s lieder, followed by a song from Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Carousel. A pianist gave a thoughtful, meditative account of Rachmaninov’s Melodie followed by the chirpy and attractive Dizzy Fingers by the American jazz composer Edward Confrey.

All this gave the audience much pleasure, and it was reassuring evidence that, in spite of many counter-attractions, from television to sport, the study of classical music is still a vital part of Durban’s cultural life.

The performers were: Margie Fan (15) piano; Caterina Reigl (16) recorder; Frances Muir (16) soprano; Arne Janse van Rensburg (17) piano; Catherine Lin (16) flute; Kathryn Stranex (17) piano; Romy Allen (17) piano; Makhadze Baloyi (17) soprano; William Chin (17) violin; and Rashalia Pather (17) piano. - Michael Green