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Saturday, September 28, 2013


(Members of the KZN Youth Orchestra in the historic town of Bremen with their Artistic Director, conductor Lykele Temmingh)

Classical Notes by William Charlton-Perkins. (Republished by permission of The Mercury newspaper)

The KwaZulu-Natal Youth Orchestra (KZNYO) can be heard at the Jewish Club in Durban tomorrow September 29 at 17h00 after their recent triumphs while touring abroad.

Having just returned from a tour of northern Germany, the KZNYO will perform their year-end Gala Concert. The Youth Orchestra’s chairperson, Sally Frost, reports that the tour involved a week-long musical collaboration between the KZNYO and the city of Bremen, Germany, with which Durban is twinned.

This culminated with their performing to an audience of 17,000 at the 25th anniversary of the annual open-air concert, Musik and Licht am Hollersee. The orchestra also toured to other cities in northern Germany, including Jena, Weimar and Leipzig, and performed at venues such as the University of Jena, which is the oldest university in Germany.

“This tour was an opportunity of a lifetime,” said KZNYO member Sarah Camp (15). “Not only did we have the experience of performing in fantastic venues, but we were also hosted by members of various German youth orchestras and so were able to socialise with and learn from our German counterparts.”

The KZNYO Gala Concert will feature the Youth Orchestra’s tour programme which includes three original new South African works, as well as traditional classical music and recognisable African rhythms. Attendance is free; however, donations in the donation box will be welcome.

The KwaZulu-Natal Youth Orchestra is comprised of the cream of young musical talent in KZN and is open to all KZN young people between the ages of 12 and 25. The KZNYO aims to develop and nurture musical ability and orchestral playing in a supportive environment. They perform under the baton of maestro Lyk Temmingh, who is the resident conductor with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, with whom the youth orchestra is affiliated.

Temmingh also heads up the KZN Philharmonic’s own annual National Youth Concerto Festival initiative, to be heard in the Durban City Hall next Thursday evening as part of the Orchestra’s current Spring Season.

Auditions for the 2014 KZN Youth Orchestra will be held from October 11 to 12 at St Mary’s School, Kloof. New members are welcome. Members should have reached a grade three level of playing or above. For more details phone Beth on 071 948 5763, email or visit the KZNYO website at

On the choral music front, award-winning music director and accompanist Juan Burgers has been pursuing a busy schedule in a freelance capacity, working with choirs the length and breadth of the country, from Swaziland to Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape. Burgers says he is excited at the prospect of working with 10 top South African choirs bringing to fruition a recently instituted project dubbed the Melting Pot Arts Festival. This will see each choir competing in a festival of Western and African classical music repertoire.

“Each choir submits its own choice of items,” says Burgers. “In many cases the repertoire shows highly imaginative and adventurous programming, embracing thrilling ensemble pieces from works such as Bellini’s operas, Norma and Beatrice di Tenda, and Verdi’s Simon Boccanegra and I Vespri Siciliani.”

The choirs will perform with the National Philharmonic Orchestra on October 19 from 09h00 in the Big Top Arena at Carnival City in Johannesburg before an international panel of adjudicators for prize money of a R250,000. The event will be open to the public. Three KZN choirs - the Clermont Community Choir, the African Chorus and the SA Singers - will be among the participants.

Burgers says another exciting choral event in the pipeline is the National Choir Festival to be held at the ICC on December 8 and 9, with the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. Watch this space for more about this event which Burgers says will include wide-ranging cultural interpretations of indigenous choral music reflecting the folklore of each region represented. Included among these are far flung regions such as Limpopo and the Northern Cape, where the music fascinatingly often carries the ancient imprint of Koi San influence.

Meanwhile, The Playhouse Company has announced it is to stage the original Jerome Robbins production of West Side Story in The Playhouse Opera Theatre from November 20 to December 29 2013, featuring music by Leonard Bernstein and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.

Heading the production’s creative team is director Ralph Lawson, with set and costume design by Sarah Roberts, choreography by Adele Blank, lighting design by Michael Broderick, sound design by Trevor Peters and musical direction/repetiteur Andrew Warburton. Casting is yet to be announced.

The production will have live accompaniment by the KZN Philharmonic under the baton of Lykele Temmingh (alternate conductor Naum Rousine). Ticket prices range from R100 to R150, with concessions for students and pensioners. Booking is at Computicket 0861 915 8000.

Finally, a note that Durban Friends of Music’s next recital at the Jewish Club is on October 8, starting a 19h45. The Sempre Viva Trio will perform music by Grieg, Arensky, Shostakovich and Faure. The evening’s Prelude Performer will be the upcoming young pianist Rachel Wedderburn-Maxwell. Book at Computicket. - William Charlton-Perkins