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Saturday, July 5, 2014


(Reviews from the artSMart team currently in Grahamstown at the National Arts Festival)

(Krysty Swann)

Great success of KZN Philharmonic’s first appearance at the 2014 National Arts Festival. (Review by Keith Millar)

The KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra has become an integral part of the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown over the past four years. This year the orchestra, or parts of it, will be heard at 11 different events during the festival.

First up was the Symphony Concert performed at the Guy Butler Theatre at the 1820 Settlers Monument overlooking the picturesque city of Grahamstown. In true festival mood the orchestra presented a lively concert of opera excerpts featuring young American mezzo-soprano, Krysty Swann.

Miss Swann has an enchanting voice. She sings with seeming effortless ease and grace. Her lower register in particular is beautifully rich and smooth. With a ready smile and a humble demeanour she was an absolute audience favourite.

Included in the arias she sang were O Mio Fernando from Donizetti’s La Favorita, O Don Fatale from Verdi’s Do Carlos; Voi lo sapete from Cavalleria Rusticana and Samson et Dalila by Saint-SaĆ«ns. A highlight was her encore which was Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen. A rendition which brought the audience to its feet.

The orchestra was in fine form as they contributed several instrumental favourites from the opera repertoire to the programme. Among others, they performed the Overture from The Barber of Seville, Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana and George Bizet’s Carmen Suite.

The Guy Butler Theatre has an interesting acoustic. It is very crisp and clean but is a little on the dry side. Because of its clarity, any mistake in performance would immediately be exposed. However, on the night this did not bother the orchestra at all as they put in an excellent performance.

Pulling everything together was conductor Daniel Boico. He has been described by critics as dynamic, vigorous, exciting and imaginative. He certainly lived up to that billing as he made a major contribution to the great success of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra’s first appearance at the 2014 National Arts Festival. – Keith Millar

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