The Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra has announced its programme for the Spring Season 2019 and I’m delighted to see some of the works that are coming up. I unfortunately missed the last season, due to a number of inescapable priorities, but I’m too excited to miss a single one of the upcoming concerts for the rest of the year.
In the first week, selections from Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess have been programmed; the accomplished Cape Tonian soprano Linda Nteleza and the veritable international star baritone Musa Ngqungwana will be singing solo parts. Porgy and Bess resides in the very top tier of operas composed in modern times — in any time, in fact — and has also risen to eminence as one of the most popular contemporary musical theatre showcases. It’s a prime example of great, ground-breaking art that also has mass appeal, and it’s exactly the right vein for the JPO to strike. The second half of the week’s programme is just as exciting: we’ll hear the First Symphony of Gustav Mahler, a staple composer in the programmes of overseas orchestras, whose work the JPO has never played before. Mahler was no less a genius than Gershwin; it’s a spectacular finish to a promising evening. The conductor will be Wolfram Christ, a longtime principal violist in the Berlin Philharmonic.