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Friday, September 15, 2017


(Lykele Temmingh)

One of the most inspiring and heart-warming concerts of the year. (Review by Keith Millar)

The KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra’s National Youth Concerto Festival which took place at the Durban City Hall on September 14 must rate as one of the most inspiring and heartwarming concerts of the year.

Nine of the country’s very best young musicians showing off their prowess, supported by the fabulous KZNPO. It is an occasion to marvel at, and celebrate the talent and skill of the next generation of classical music artists.

The Festival is not a competition and the only reward the young performers receive is the honour of taking part in this prestigious event.

The man who deserves the credit for co-ordinating the event is KZNPO Resident Conductor, Lykele Temmingh. He has been the selector and conductor for the Festival since 2004. Every year, he sifts through 60 to 70 applicants and after a stringent auditioning process selects the participants. He then works with them and the orchestra for week prior to the concert to ensure that everyone is well prepared for the gala occasion.

The result of all the hard work was evident at what was an excellent concert of very impressive performances by all the young artists. Possibly the lack of the competition element allowed them to be a little more relaxed as they all displayed wonderful confidence and poise while sharing the stage with the country’s leading orchestra.

It was an occasion when the focus was on the soloists and the orchestra perhaps took a bit of a back seat. However, this skilled ensemble under the baton of Temmingh was a constant, powerful and sympathetic source of support for the young performers.

In keeping with the fact that the Festival is not a competition, there were no winners on the night and everyone came up trumps and covered themselves in glory. However, I have two highlights which I wish to mention.

Cameron Williams who is originally from Pretoria, but is currently studying for a B Mus degree at the University of Stellenbosch put in a brilliant performance in Allan Stephenson’s Introduction and Allegro for soprano sax and strings. South Africa composer Stephenson’s work which he wrote in 1996 is a beautifully lyrical and accessible piece, and Cameron made the most of his rousing performance.

My other highlight was Thomas Mohlamme, a young man with an extraordinary bass voice. He is tall and slender with a barrel of a chest which generates a wonderful rounded, powerful and resonant bass voice. He did great justice to Giuseppe Verdi’s Come Dal Ciel Precipita, from Act ll of Macbeth.

The other soloists who took part in this varied programme were:

Joshua Frank and Andre Visser who performed Vivaldi’s Concerto for Two Oboes in D minor RV 535 with distinction.

Yolisa Ngwexana, a soprano who sang Mozart’s S’altro che lagrime from Act ll of La Clemenza di Tito. A lovely voice but lacking a bit in power.

Alice Clegg who gave and excellent performance of Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D minor, K466.

Danél Dippenaar an outstanding flautist who played Fantasie for Flute and Orchestra by French composer Georges Hüe.

Shaw Komori, a superb trumpeter, played the Trumpet Concerto in A Flat Major by Alexander Arutunian.

Completing the programme was animated pianist Shaheel Kooverjee performing Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 2 in c minor, Op. 18.

The National Youth Concerto Festival was indeed a festive occasion and an excellent way to ring down the curtain on the KZNPO Early Spring Season.

The only real disappointment was that there was not a single young artist from KZN who was deemed good enough for this concert.

The KZN Philharmonic’s Late Spring Season starts on October 19, 2017. – Keith Millar

(To link direct to the KZN Philharmonic’s website click on the orchestra’s banner advert on the top right hand of the page)