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Saturday, May 17, 2014


(Adé Williams)

Uplifting experience for first concert of the winter season. (Review by Michael Green)

The emphasis was on youth at the first concert, in the Durban City Hall, of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s Winter Season.

The soloist was a 16-year-old playing a Mozart violin concerto written when the composer was 19. The conductor was a 35-year-old American. In the orchestra were 13 players from Bloemfontein who were all under the age of 18. Even the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, who sometimes seemed (to quote Oscar Wilde) to have the gift of perpetual old age, was only 36 when he wrote the symphony performed at the concert.

The solo violinist was Adé Williams from the United States. At the age of 16 she has built up an impressive record of public appearances, and she showed high skills in Mozart’s Violin Concerto No. 4 in D major. She has a quite flamboyant style of playing. Her technical abilities are obvious, and in her youthful way she captured the joyous spirit of this lovely work.  “Like a breath of fresh air”, somebody said to me.

The conductor, Jayce Ogren, a newcomer here, was born in Washington and he too has a fine record of concert achievement at a young age. He has a dynamic conducting style, with an apparent inclination toward brisk tempi, and under his baton the orchestra contributed greatly to the success of the Mozart concerto.

The visiting players in the orchestra were members of the Bochabela String Orchestra, established by an American, Peter Guy, to help under-privileged children in the Free State.

Their presence boosted the number of string players in the KZNPO to about 50. The massive string tone played an important part in a triumphant performance of Sibelius’s Symphony No. 2 in D major, and in the same composer’s Finlandia, which opened the concert.

The symphony is big in every sense, and the conductor and players extracted full value from its power and strength. At the end the audience gave prolonged applause for what had been an uplifting experience. - Michael Green