Sunday, 28 October 2018

Fury and ecstasy at the JPO & KZNPO joint concert

This article was originally posted on the Artslink website.

An orchestra’s gala concert is a culturally important event, but its artistic significance is always a gamble. Daring originality often yields to respectability, and listeners hear a competent performance rather than an inspiring one. But no such problem beset Thursday night’s Johannesburg Philharmonic concert, which commemorated the centenary of Albertina Sisulu. The American conductor William Eddins and the additional forces of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra exalted concertgoers’ experiences far beyond expectations. The audience’s mood rose very quickly in the evening from delighted anticipation to genuine, ecstatic joy.

The tone was set well by the welcoming dignitaries. The Chair of the KZNPO Board, Saki Makozoma, welcomed concertgoers and visitors from the Sisulu family and foundations, including Max and Elinor Sisulu. The Chair of the JPO Board, retired Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, spoke tenderly about Albertina Sisulu, her place in the history of South Africa, and his own connection to that history. Minister Lindiwe Sisulu spoke after the intermission about her mother’s joy in music and introduced the commemorative work commissioned for her centenary, MaSisulu Sinfonia, by the South African composer Bongani Ndoda-Breen.

Power and splendour at the UP Music Festival

This article was originally posted on the Artslink website.

At a time when diplomatic relations around the world seem at risk, the visit of a foreign artistic group to our country for a goodwill tour of concerts is particularly welcome; even more so when that group is a rapidly rising part of its country’s – and the world’s – artistic pantheon.

It has been reported that the Minnesota Orchestra is the very first full American symphony orchestra to perform in South Africa. As unlikely as that sounds, their performance at the University of Pretoria on Thursday, 16 August, as part of the music department’s annual music festival, evaporated any considerations of first-time feats and brought our attention solely to artistic accomplishments.

After a spirited playing of both the South African and United States national anthems, the Minnesota Orchestra music director and Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä launched into the tone poem En saga by Sibelius, a composer whose work he’s become lauded in America for performing with this orchestra – and it turns out that that laud is entirely justified.