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Wednesday, February 10, 2016


The KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra continues its primary mission of bringing excellence in music making to the city of Durban. The Summer Season of the World Symphony Series reflects this with an exciting set of concerts to entice music lovers of all backgrounds.

The season opens on February 18 at the Durban City Hall and, in keeping with the theme of love, the first concert is filled with Romantic-period German repertoire, conducted by world renowned maestro, Wolfram Christ.

Pieter Schoeman is often praised as one of the top violinists to come out of South Africa. His illustrious career includes concertos with some of the major orchestras and conductors, and recital tours through some of the world’s most prestigious venues. He is joined by South African cellist and member of the Odeion String Quartet, Anmari van der Westhuizen Joubert, to perform Brahms’s Double Concerto in A minor, Op. 102.

Van Cliburn first prize winner Olga Kern returns to the City Hall stage for the second concert (February 25) to perform Rachmaninoff’s mighty first piano concerto No 1 in F-sharp minor, Op 1. The concert closes with the 7th symphony of Antonin Dvorák. While not as instantly recognisable as his “New World Symphony”, this perhaps his most musically advanced work in its compositional language and style.

The third concert March 3) sees Alexei Ogrintchouk perform as both as conductor and soloist in The Playhouse Opera. As part of a new collaboration between the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (RCO) and the KZN Philharmonic, the KZNPO proudly welcomes RCO principal oboist Alexei Ogrintchouk for a rare concert of classical and chamber repertoire. Recognised as one of the foremost oboe players alive today, Ogrintchouk was appointed principal oboe of the RCO in 2005. He has performed concertos with such conductors as Seiji Ozawa, Mariss Jansons and Fabio Luisi.

The music continues on March 10 when American conductor James Ross returns to Durban to lead the KZN Philharmonic through a concert of both familiar and uncharted territory. The concert begins with Beethoven’s overture to his only opera Fidelio. The overture was Beethoven’s fourth attempt to create an opening prelude for the opera. The first three attempts are still performed as concert pieces – the Leonore overtures. Farida Bacharova, one of the most influential musicians and educators in South Africa, steps onto the stage of the City Hall to perform Mendelssohn’s violin concerto. The concert ends with what is certainly a Durban première, and quite possibly a South African première – Charles Ives’ Symphony No. 2. The name Ives typically induces thoughts of atonality and rhythmic chaos, but his 2nd symphony is anything but. The work is filled with lyrical expression, traditional American folk tunes and playful themes that leave the listener full of awe and joy. This is definitely a concert not to be missed.

The penultimate concert in the series (March 17) features an array of jazzy swings filling up the City Hall. This special concert features a host of international and local artists, the traditional jazz and Broadway music of George Gershwin is blended with the quirky music of modern Japanese composer Takashi Yoshimatsu. Conducted by American maestro James Ross, the concert jumps into swing with Gershwin’s An American in Paris. The work, written in1928, was inspired by the composer’s trip to Paris and, through tone painting, evokes the sights and soundsof the busy and diverse streets. The music was later used in the 1951 Gene Kelly movie of the same title. One of KwaZulu-Natal’s favourite pianists, ChristopherDuigan, then joins the orchestra to close the first half with Rhapsody in Blue.

The second half turns from the sublime to the avant-garde, as Spanish saxophonist David Salleras returns to Durban to perform the Cyberbird Concerto by Takashi Yoshimatsu. Chris Duigan and KZN Philharmonic principal timpanist Stephane Pechoux are also featured in this modern triple concerto. The composition explores the virtuosic elements of jazz and classical languages in a thrilling orchestral setting.

The Summer Season of the 2016 World Symphony Series comes to a close on March 31 with a concert of symphonic giants, to be held in The Playhouse Opera. KZN Philharmonic associate guest conductor Daniel Boico returns to lead the orchestra on this epic night of music-making. The concert begins with Rimsky-Korsakov’s arrangement of music from Modest Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain. The excitable and evocative music will propel the concert into action with fiery brass and blazing strings that depict a witches Sabbath. The music has been used in many films - most famously in Fantasia - to accompany tense scenes.

Israeli concert pianist Daniel Gortler makes his South African debut with the KZN Philharmonic performing Beethoven’s first piano concerto. Gortler has recently performed as a soloist with the Berlin Radio Symphony, Bavarian Radio Symphony, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra and Houston Symphony Orchestra, among others. He has recorded numerous albums for Romeo Records NY both as a solo pianist and as a collaborator, specialising in music from the early romantic period.

The concert and the Summer Season then close with the colossal second symphony of Sergei Rachmaninoff. The composer finds a musical language in this symphony that is completely distinct from his piano writing. By being unbound the keyboard, the lyrical possibilities of the orchestra are fully explored in what is a seemingly endless stream of passion-laden melodies and themes. It is the perfect thrilling end to an amazing series of concerts.

Refreshments and light snacks may be purchased in the foyer before the concert and during interval. Single tickets are available from, 0861 915 8000, or from Shoprite Checkers Money Market counters. Subscribers can save up to 30%

The final rehearsals for the Summer Symphony Season concerts are open to the public and provide a glimpse into the preparation for a symphony concert. Taking place on the day of each concert at 10h00 in the Durban City Hall, entrance is R30 (R10 scholars) includes a cup of tea.

The final rehearsal is the perfect opportunity to introduce scholars to symphony concerts and also provides great outings for community groups and retirement homes. Please contact the KZN Philharmonic bookings office to enquire about special rates and to make arrangements for groups. Contact or call us on 031 369 9438. Please note that there are no open rehearsals for operatic programmes.

Concert-goers can gain a deeper understanding of the music they are about to hear by attending the Friends of Music’s Pre-Concert Lectures at the City Hall starting at 18h00. Entry is R10. The Pre-Concert Lectures on March 3 and 31 will be held at The Playhouse Alhambra Room.

For more information, contact 031 369 9438 or email or click on the banner ad at the top of this page to link to the orchestra’s website.