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Friday, September 14, 2018


(Lykele Temmingh)

The National Youth Concerto Festival 2018 was a most satisfying and enjoyable event. Bravo the young soloists, bravo the KZNPO and bravo maestro Temmingh. (Review by Keith Millar)

The KZN Philharmonic Orchestra rang the curtain down on their Early Spring Season 2018 with their annual National Youth Concerto Festival.

The festival concert this year was dedicated to the memory of Dr David Tidboald who passed away earlier this year at the age of 92. Dr Tidboald was the founder of what is now the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra in 1983 and remained its inspirational and creative force until his retirement.

The National Youth Concerto Festival is a legacy left by this veteran conductor. Established in 1985 the annual festival features the cream of South Africa’s next generation of classical musicians.

Despite the lack of the usual international super star on the bill, this could arguably be the KZNPO’s most important concert of the year where established orchestral musicians provide the platform for the growth and development of young artists.

It seems as if classical music lovers in Durban do not agree with this sentiment because attendance at the concert was disappointing to say the least.

While the Festival is not a competition, and no-one is declared a winner at the end, it remains a important and proud addition to all the participants CV’s.

In 2004 Tidboald handed over the reins of this significant event to the KZNPO’s Resident Conductor, Lykele Temmingh. Temmingh who has a proud record in the development of young artists – he is also the Artistic Director and Conductor of the KZN Youth Orchestra – scours the country and conducts stringent auditions to select only the best of the best to perform at the festival.

As usual he unearthed 10 absolute gems (unfortunately only one from KZN) to entertain at this year’s concert. Every one of them brought their A game and performed with skill and aplomb which was both satisfying and exciting.

While it is impossible to fault the performances of any of the artists there were, for me, three standouts.

First was saxophonist Hendrik Coetzee. Free State born Coetzee, who is now based in Stellenbosch, were he also completed his B.Mus. degree last year, delivered an exuberant and skilful interpretation of the second and third movements of Pierre Max Dubois’ virtuoso Concerto for Alto Saxophone. An exhilarating performance on one of the lesser-heard instruments in the classical repertoire.

Only 14 years old, violinist Gilah Kellner provided an astonishingly good performance of the opening movement Edouard Lalo’s Symphonie Espagnole for Violin and Orchestra. Her playing was beautifully nuanced, full of expression and masterfully skilful. This young lady’s CV is already jam-packed with the awards and competitions she has won and now she can add her triumph at the National Youth Concerto Festival 2018 to that list. Definitely a future star in the making.

The final item on the programme, and providing something of a cherry on the top, was pianist William Mey’s performance of the first movement of Dimitri Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No. 2 in F Major, Op. 102. While it is difficult to take this frenetic work seriously, 20-year old Mey from Stellenbosch certainly displayed all the flying fingers and virtuosic skills required to make it a highly enjoyable listening experience. A real party piece.

The others who appeared at the concert where as follows:
Samantha Durrant                  (Violin)
Abongile Fumba                      (Mezzo-Soprano)
Jan Joubert                             Clarinet
Luxolo Jule                              Baritone
Zinhle Mfaba                           Bassoon
Nastassja Pretorius                 Cello
Avuya Ngcaweni                    Soprano

The orchestra under the baton of Lykele Temmingh played a wonderfully supportive role. The members have been through difficult times recently and it is to their great credit that they are still able to make beautiful music.

The National Youth Concerto Festival 2018 was a most satisfying and enjoyable event. Bravo the young soloists, bravo the KZNPO and bravo maestro Temmingh! – Keith Millar