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Saturday, March 2, 2013


Meander into music and art by William Charlton-Perkins. (Republished courtesy of The Mercury newspaper)

Christopher Duigan’s Music Revival spearheads two exciting classical music events in the KZN Midlands in the week ahead.

Here’s an opportunity to enjoy a leisure excursion combining music, history and art in the heart of the Midlands Meander this weekend. Pianist Christopher Duigan teams up on Sunday (March 3) with acclaimed Inanda born baritone, Njabulo Madlala, now based in London, in an engaging programme of song entitled Playing With Mandela. Their recital, which starts at 11h30, is at The Shed Theatre on the historic Mandela Capture Site, situated on Old Main Road R103, Lions River (take the Howick North/Tweedie exit from the N3).

Madlala is quickly developing a major name in the UK as a top operatic singer. The recipient of the prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Award, he is a Britten Pears Young Artist having completed his post-graduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.

With Duigan as his accompanist, he will perform songs by English composers, Roger Quilter and Ralph Vaughan Williams, operatic arias by Mozart and Puccini, selections from popular musicals, and items from The African Song Book, a unique trademark of his performances. Tickets are R120 and a cash bar will be available. Booking is through Music Revival on 033 3423051 or by For more information about The Mandela Capture Site and to book for lunch at the adjacent Truth Café, call Brendan on 083 2272376.

Another major music event on this week’s KZN classical music calendar is the annual Last Night of the Maritzburg Proms, presented by Parklane Superspar in association with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and Christopher Duigan’s Music Revival. This gala event on Saturday March 9 at 19h00 in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall draws inspiration from annual Last of Night of The Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London.

Conductor Richard Cock, synonymous with the promotion of Proms concerts in South Africa, will be at the helm of the KZNPO, hosting a roster of soloists that includes soprano Hanli Stapela, baritone Madlala, gifted young tenor Wayne Mkhize, and Duigan at the keyboard. The repertoire for the singers includes opera arias by Puccini, Mozart, Bizet and Lehar. These are coupled with the beguiling Meditation for solo violin from Massenet’s Thaïs, played by the newly-appointed concertmaster of the KZNPO, Joanna Frankel.

The orchestra are highlighted in two items celebrating this year’s bicentenaries marking the births of Verdi and Wagner, both of whom were born in 1813. To this end, the audience will be treated to rousing performances of typical Proms fare - Verdi’s Grand March from Aida and Wagner’s Ride of the Walküre. Duigan plays the Scherzo by Henry Litolff, a dazzling concert showpiece much loved by pianists and audiences alike. Booking for the Maritzburg Proms concert is on 033 342 3487. Tickets range from R100 to R160 including discounted seats for students and pensioners.

Heralding the Verdi and Wagner bicentenaries mentioned above, the internet has been awash for months with forecasts and reports of a veritable bonanza of recordings, performances, exhibitions, symposia and broadcasts being held this year to honour the 19th century’s two operatic giants. The impact of each composer on posterity was enormous, reaching far beyond musical circles. Get Googling. There’s a wealth of information out there, food for thought to stimulate hours of debate with fellow classical music enthusiasts. - William Charlton-Perkins