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Friday, September 18, 2015


(Lykele Temmingh)

A greatly encouraging display of youthful talent in classical music in South Africa. (Review by Michael Green)

The KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual National Youth Concerto Festival produced this year an unusually good crop of young South African musicians.

There is an age limit of 25 for instrumentalists and 35 for singers for those who want to apply for inclusion, and they must be students, not full-time professionals. The selection is made by the KZNPO’s resident conductor, Lykele Temmingh, who tours the country listening to the applicants. He himself conducts the orchestra in the final concert.

This year nine instrumentalists (no singers) and two local composers were presented in a varied and demanding programme. Without exception the performers (some of them teenagers) impressed with their technical skills and their poised and mature stage deportment.

They were rewarded with generous applause from a rather small audience, and indeed the concert as a whole was a most enjoyable occasion.

The South African composers on the programme were 19-year-old Conrad Asman, who comes from Johannesburg, and Matthew Dennis, who is about 23 and is from Cape Town. Both were represented by works for orchestra. Osman’s composition was a bright and breezy dissonant work called Igniting Kites and Flying Fireworks, and Matthew Dennis’s Where the Clouds Gather was a gentler, rather impressionistic piece.

The performers in the concert were:
Andre Christian Venter from Port Elizabeth, playing the oboe in part of a concerto by Alessandro Marcello (1673-1747).
Amy Stessl, aged 17 from Johannesburg, flute, in Joaquin Rodrigo’s Concierto Pastoral, written in 1978 for James Galway.
Seul Pearl Jung from Cape Town, in the first movement of Elgar’s cello concerto.
Paul Loeb van Zuilenburg (18) from Bloemfontein, in the solo violin part of a movement from Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole.
Rifiloe Olifant, also from Bloemfontein, violin, in Max Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy.
Feroll-Jon Davids from McGregor in the Western Cape, in Weber’s Concertino for Clarinet.
Sang-Woo Jun, born in South Korea, now from Cape Town, violin, in Saint-Saens’s Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso.
Brent Reynolds and Throy Dillan Petersen, both students at Stellenbosch University, in Poulenc’s Concerto for Two Pianos.

Lyk Temmingh was, as usual, a highly effective and sympathetic conductor. The concert was ample evidence of his interest in young musicians, and it was a greatly encouraging display of youthful talent in classical music in South Africa. - Michael Green