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Wednesday, March 1, 2023



The first concert of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s Summer Season takes place tomorrow (March 2, 2023) at 19h00 in the Playhouse Opera Theatre.

The conductor will be Hossein Pishkar and the soloist will be Danae Dörken (piano). The programme will feature Sibelius’s Pelléas et Mélisande, Op. 46; Mendelssohn’s Piano Concerto No 1, Op. 25 in g minor and Beethoven’s Symphony No 1, Op. 21 in C Major.

Sibelius’ Pelléas et Mélisande began life as incidental music for Maurice Maeterlinck’s 1892 play of the same title. First performed in Helsinki in 1905 to a translation by Bertel Gripenberg, Sibelius later rearranged the music into a nine-movement suite, published as Op 46, which became one of his most popular concert works. The audience will surely thrill to the graphic appeal of this celebrated work, which offers a superb window into the composer’s gift for painting with music.

Mendelssohn wrote his g minor Piano Concerto around the same time as his Italian Symphony. The concerto was composed in 1830-31, while holidaying in Rome after the composer had met the pianist Delphine von Schauroth in Munich. The three-movement work was dedicated to her, although Mendelssohn himself performed it at its première in Munich in 1831. The highly melodic piece, with its sparkling orchestration, contains many sections of bravura solo improvisation, one of Mendelssohn’s specialities, and saw a rapid rise in popularity which has continued ever since.

The young Beethoven was an artist who straddled the Classical and Romantic eras. Following the enormous prestige accorded his former teacher, Joseph Haydn, on completion of the latter’s 12 London Symphonies, Beethoven was inspired to have a go at writing his own first Symphony. This was composed in 1800, at which time he had already completed two of his piano concertos, as well as ten piano sonatas, including the Pathétique, his octet and septet, as well as some of his early string quartets. While clearly influenced by the Classical style - it was famously dubbed by the great scholar Donald Tovey as Beethoven’s ‘farewell to the 18th century’ - the composer’s first foray into the symphonic genre already bore rugged imprints of his later signature characteristics, setting him apart from Haydn and Mozart.

The KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2023 Summer Season, featuring a superb line-up of international and local talent runs in The Playhouse Opera every Thursday from March 2 to 23, 2023,each World Symphony Series concert starting at 19h00.

“We are overjoyed to join hands once again with our special family of music lovers for our four-concert Summer Symphony Season,” says Bongani Tembe, KZN Philharmonic’s Chief Executive and Artistic Director.

“As always, we proudly uphold grand traditions of our World Symphony Series, as we bring you a guest roster featuring an array of international stars, who are set to join our dedicated orchestral musicians in bring our audiences many hours of sheer musical magic. The season dovetails with our ongoing work in the spheres of community engagement and skills transfer among new-generation artists and learners.

“We are proud to host the South African debuts of the noted young conductor Hossein Pishkar and pianist Danae Dörken; as well as the welcome return appearances to our podium of our much-loved associated guest conductor, Daniel Boico, and the deeply respected Cape Town based maestro, Bernhard Gueller”.

Tembe continues: “Our soloist roster will be graced by the return of the magnificently gifted young violinist, Rachel Lee Priday; as well as the celebrated French horn virtuoso, Shannon Thebus, and the noted South African-Portuguese pianist, Luis Magalhaes, piano.”

With young maestro Pishkar on the podium, the opening programme on March 2 features an enticingly compilation of music. This opens with Sibelius’ Pelléas et Mélisande and will be followed by Mendelssohn Piano Concerto No 1 in G minor performed by Danae Dörken. Beethoven’s Symphony No I rounds off the evening.

The second week’s fare sees maestro Boico on the podium, opening with Richard Wagner’s mesmerizing Siegfried Idyll, and closing with that much loved staple of 19th century Romantism, Schumann’s Symphony No 3 The Rhenish. Of note is the evening’s centrepiece, the seldom-performed Violin Concerto in F-sharp minor by the Cuban French composer/violinist, José White Lafitte (1836 – 1918). This rarity will be performed by the gifted young American virtuoso, Rachel Lee Priday.

Maestro Gueller takes the podium for the third concert on March 16. This opens with that most magnificent of curtain-raisers, Felix Mendelssohn’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream Overture. Written when the composer was just 17 years of age, the work was described by the great music scholar Donald Tovey as ‘the greatest marvel of early maturity that the world has ever seen in music. A hard act to follow, the marvel will give way to a performance of Richard Strauss’s enchanting Concerto for French Horn No 1, played by the prodigiously accomplished American soloist, Shannon Thebus. Brahms’s monumental Symphony No 4, widely regarded as ‘a giant among giants’, brings the evening to a thrilling climax.

Maestro Boico returns to the podium to close the season on March 23, opening with Beethoven’s Fidelio Overture. The Portuguese South African pianist, Luis Magalhaes, then takes centre-stage to give his rendering of Beethoven’s so-called Piano Concerto No 6 (the composer’s own transcription of his Violin Concerto in D). Of special note after intermission is the much-anticipated world premiere of the Canadian-born SA composer Warren Bessey’s latest magnum opus: iNkosi uShaka: Umbono, Isizwe, Isiphetho (King Shaka: A Vision, A Nation, A Destiny).

Conceived on the grandest of scales, this monumental work for vocal soloists, chorus and orchestra forms a proud new edition to the growing symphonic literature dedicated to the proud heritage of the Zulu Nation. As its title indicates, the work centres around the iconic historic person of the mighty warrior King Shaka, also embracing a coterie of other historic figures such as the beautiful Queen Nandi, Shaka’s adored mother.

Concerts are for the next four Thursdays in the Playhouse Opera starting at 19h00.

KZN Philharmonic Season tickets, and bookings for individual concerts, are available at Quicket outlets. For more information call 031-369 9438, email or visit

Tea and symphony – final rehearsal on Thursday morning at 10h00, R50 per person. Tickets at the door.