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Monday, October 19, 2015


(Morgan Szymanski)

Friends of Music will host a recital by Morgan Szymanski and James Grace tomorrow (October 20) in a programme that will include works by Ferdinando Carulli; Francisco Tarrega; Manuel De Falla; Julio César Oliva; Manuel M. Ponce; Celso Machado, and Paulo Bellinati.

Described as 'a player destined for future glories', Morgan Szymanski has been highlighted as 'One to Watch' by both Gramophone Magazine and the BBC Music Magazine. Born in Mexico City in 1979, Morgan Szymanski started playing the guitar at the age of six. Early studies at the National Music School (Mexico) and the Edinburgh Music School led to a scholarship to study under Carlos Bonell and Gary Ryan at the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London, graduating in 2004 with first class honours.

Performances as a soloist and with orchestras have taken him to concert halls and festivals around the world. His devotion to chamber music has led to collaborations with artists such as John Williams, Celso Machado and Carlos Bonell (guitar), Mark Padmore (tenor), Alison Balsom (trumpet), Priya Mitchell (violin), Adam Walker (flute), the Sacconi, Doric and Carducci Quartets, Phuong Nguyen (accordion), and Clara Mouriz (mezzo-soprano) amongst others. Collaborations with composers have led to new works for guitar dedicated to Szymanski by Simone Iannarelli, Stephen McNeff, Julio César Oliva and Alec Roth. Szymanski plays on a guitar by the Chinese master guitar luthier Yulong Guo. He is a Live Music Now alumni, the scheme started by Lord Yehudi Menuhin to reach audiences that would otherwise have no access to live music.

James Grace is one of one South Africa's leading concert artists. In recent years he has appeared with the Cape Philharmonic, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, the Johannesburg Festival, the Johannesburg Philharmonic and the Free State Symphony in concerti by Rodrigo, Villa-Lobos, Giuliani and Vivaldi. He studied at the Royal College of Music in London as a Foundation Scholar with Carlos Bonell. Upon graduating he became the first guitarist in the history of the College to receive the Tagore Gold Medal, an annual award presented to the most outstanding student.

After spending two years in Doha, in the Arabian State of Qatar where he taught guitar at an International Music Centre, Grace returned to South Africa and was appointed Head of Classical Guitar Studies at the University of Cape Town.

The Prelude Performer for the evening will be Janice Atkinson (21) who is studying flute with Sabine Baird. She performed with the KZNPO at the Young Performers' Concert in 2010 and 2014. In 2010 she passed her Grade 8 Flute exam with distinction (90%). She attended a master class with Lady and Sir James Galway earlier this year in Cape Town. Accompanied by Dana Hadjiev, she will perform all three movements of Francis Poulenc’s Flute Sonata.

The concert takes place tomorrow night (October 20) at 19h30 in the Durban Jewish Centre.. Tickets R70 (R60 FOM members and R20 orchestral/students) booked through Computicket.

Friends of Music acknowledges valued funding from the National Lotteries Commission.