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Sunday, March 13, 2016


(David Salleras & Christopher Duigan)

The music of George Gershwin takes centre stage when the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra takes to the stage of the Pietermaritzburg City Hall on March 19.

Presented in association with Parklane SUPERSPAR, Rhapsody in Blue will feature solo performances by David Salleras (saxophone) and renowned concert pianist, Christopher Duigan (piano). The orchestra will be conducted by James Ross, director of orchestral activities at the University of Maryland in the United States.

“It’s a really exciting programme,” said Duigan, “because it is it mainly a Gershwin programme. I will be playing Rhapsody in Blue on the rebuilt Steinway and Sons Concert Grand Piano and the orchestra will be doing a suite from his opera Porgy and Bess, which includes songs like the hugely popular Summertime.”

The concert will feature the full KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as extra saxophone players and a banjo player. “It is just beautiful music and the symphonic splendour of the whole Gershwin Suite is going to be amazing,” Duigan said.

Porgy and Bess is an English-language opera composed in 1934 by Gershwin, with a libretto written by DuBose Heyward and Ira Gershwin from Heyward's novel Porgy and later play of the same title. The opera tells the story of Porgy, a disabled street-beggar living in the slums of Charleston, South Carolina, and his attempts to rescue Bess from the clutches of Crown, her violent and possessive lover, and Sportin' Life the drug dealer.

Porgy and Bess: A Symphonic Picture was arranged by Gershwin's good friend and sometimes assistant, Robert Russell Bennet in 1942 and includes most of the best-known songs from the opera.

Also on the programme is a performance of Japanese composer, Takashi Yoshimatsu’s Saxophone Concerto Cyber Bird, Op. 59 (1994). It will include solos by saxophone maestro David Salleras, Duigan and Stéphane Péchoux, the orchestra’s principal percussionist.

“It’s a very jazzy piece, Eastern with a Japanese feel. It’s fresh, exciting and unique,” said Duigan who is one of South Africa's leading concert pianists and a Steinway artist .

One of the most prolific and popular of contemporary Japanese composers, Yoshimatsu draws from a vast range of musical influences, including rock and jazz. His cultural influences include his native Japan.

Salleras and Duigan will also join forces to perform the second and third nocturnes from Duigan’s Four Nocturnes (2015) for solo sax and piano with orchestra.

“The Four Nocturnes and four other pieces are on my new album, Midnight Blue, which will be released the same week,” said Duigan of his follow-up to Indigo, which he also recorded with Salleras.

The saxophonist teaches at the National Conservatoire of Girona (Spain) and is the recipient of numerous international awards. His compositions are performed and recorded by sax players from around the world.

Rhapsody in Blue takes place on March 19 at 19h30 in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall. Tickets R130 (R120 pensioners, R80 scholars) and R200 for premier seats. To book call in at the Parklane SUPERSPAR Coffee Shop or phone Jennifer at 033 342 3487.

The concert is presented by KZN Philharmonic in association with Parklane SUPERSPAR, and with the support of the Msunduzi Municipality, Christopher Duigan’s Music Revival and CPW Printers. There is secure parking in the Pietermaritzburg City Hall, Bessie Head Library and Tatham Art Gallery precincts.