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Multiple melodies at National Arts Festival

Published on 16 May 2013

Multiple types of melody make up the Music programme at the 2013 National Arts Festival, Grahamstown.

Hailing from Brakpan on the East Rand, 2013 Standard Bank Young Artist for MusicRunette Botha, made her professional début at the Royal Albert Hall, performing in a gala concert alongside José Carreras and Kiri te Kanawa. She has also performed the Erwin Stein arrangement of Mahler’s Fourth Symphony at King’s Place with Trevor Pinnock and Mahler’s Second Symphony at Cadogen Hall, and has been a member of the Staatstheater Kassel Opera Studio since 2011. She obtained a MA (Opera) at the Royal Academy of Music in London. She had previously studied at the University of Cape Town as a student of Professor Virginia Davids, after initially obtaining a BCom Accounting degree at RAU (now the University of Johannesburg). Accompanied by Audrey Hyland, she will showcase her immense vocal ability in a performance comprised of works covering 3 decades of composers: Händel, Obradors, Strauss, Berlioz, Verdi, Rakhmaninov, Bernstein, Britten and Refice.

 2013 Standard Bank Young Artist for Music Runette Botha pic by Adam McConnachie__0488 (9)

The 2013 Gala Concert celebrates the music of Verdi, (b 1813), Wagner (b 1813), Mascagni (b 1863), Britten (b 1913) and artist/musician, Gerard Sekoto (b 1913). Starting off with the Grand March from Aida and ending with Elgar’s Pomp & Circumstance March No 1, the concert will include arias by Puccini and Gounod, sung by soprano Runette Botha (2013 SBYA for Music), and Ben Schoeman (2011 SBYA) playing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue; as well as music by Strauss and Stoltz. Conductor extraordinaire Richard Cock will take audiences on an explosive musical journey of celebration with the KZNPO and these two celebrated and talented young artists.

The Odeion String Quartet was established at the University of the Free State (UFS) in 1991 as a permanent fulltime resident string quartet, and is the only resident string quartet at a South African university. Samson Diamond, 2010 Standard Bank Young Artist for Music was appointed as first violin and leader of the Odeion String Quartet in January this year. Their Hidden Treasures is a project comprising compositions by contemporary composers; namely Arvo Pärt, Philip Glass, and John Tavener; who are regarded as the most influential composers in the genre of minimalism.

Hidden Treasures (5)

Roddy the Rambunctious Rhino, Horace the Hysterical Hyena, Mafutha the Elephant, Lucas the Lazy Lion, Harry the Hungry Hadeda and many other beautiful creatures will come to life in a concert specially commissioned for children. These wonderful characters will be introduced by Ed Jordan and Nicholas Nicolaidis and their rhythmic music will have toes tapping and fingers snapping long after the concert ends. Under the baton of Richard Cock, the KZNPO offer a fun-filled concert where you will hear the songs and stories of Beautiful Creatures who live in South Africa and who need our love and protection.

Regular audiences at the National Arts Festival will recognise this concert as a sequel to the series of earlier successes that have been conceptualised and conducted by Richard Cock. In 2011,Andrew Lloyd Webber & Friends sold out within days of opening bookings. In 2012, Louis Armstrong & Friends (2012) was presented in a larger venue and once again, the sold out show meant that a number of music enthusiasts had to be turned away. In 2013, Frank Sinatra & Friends will have two performances. In this concert, Nic Nicolaidis and Zwai Bala accompanied by the notable KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra will serenade audiences with melodies such as Fly me to the moonI’ve got you under my skinFascinating RhythmUnforgettable and of course the singular ly popular Sinatra signature song, My way.

 Nicholas Nikolaidis 2Zwai Bala

A percentage of proceeds from this concert will be donated to the Theatre Benevolent Fund, a registered South African charity founded and administered by caring arts professionals to provide a reasonable standard of care and comfort to those performers who find themselves incapacitated and destitute by virtue of their illness.

After two successful years of presenting sold out performances of Conduct Unbecoming at the National Arts Festival, Richard Cock will team up with former orchestra player, Bryan Clarke, in a sequel that will unravel even more stories from the amazing world of conductors and musicians. As a percussionist, Bryan Clarke tells the stories from the player’s side that is not always complimentary about conductors. In an orchestra with only one percussionist, two of South Africa’s most entertaining music celebrities will enthral their audience with anecdotes, music and insights into why the conductor has the advantage of not seeing the audience.

The Eastern Cape Department of Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture’s Jazz at Dakawa strives to offer a platform for Eastern Cape Community jazz groups to be a part of the National Arts Festival. The vibrant programme showcases community-based jazz groups from the seven Provincial districts in a platform that provides the artists with adequate exposure to allow their work to be seen outside of their own communities, embodying the celebrating social cohesion, so present in South African music.

 EC Ensemble

Ben Schoeman was the winner of the 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music. He is regarded as one of South Africa’s foremost pianists and won major prizes, and given solo, chamber music and concerto performances throughout Europe, Canada and South Africa; and presents a solo recital of works by Haydn, Schumann, Wagner, Liszt, and Reddy.

 Ben Schoeman Photo (2)

Cellist Anzél Gerber and Schoeman were the overall winners of the Ibla Grand Prize Competition in Italy (2012). They were hailed by the press as “an impressive duo” and praised for their “superb artistry” and “intimate rapport”. Their programme includes some of the pinnacles of the vast repertoire for cello and piano, with the main work Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Sonata for Cello and Piano in G Minor, Op. 19. In this Sonata the two instruments are very much on the same level and it often happens that the piano introduces important thematic material before the cello embellishes upon this.

The South African National Youth Orchestra training pathway has been created to nurture the musical development of South Africa’s finest young musicians, from emerging gifted school-age students to those on the verge of a professional career. They present a concertconducted by Gérard Korsten, and featuring Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber – Paul Hindemith; Symphony No. 7 –Antonín Dvoøák ; and the premiere of a work by Robert Fokkens commissioned specially by the SAMRO Foundation.

After their spellbinding performances last year, the Chanticleer Singers return to the Festival to celebrate the Centenary of the birth of Benjamin Britten and 400 years since the death of Carlo Gesualdo, whose life was so full of drama and passion. The Britten programme includes some of his earliest choral works, written when he was 17, to one of his final works, the large scale Sacred and Profane, set to medieval texts. Harpist for the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, Linor Steinhausen, joins the choir for Ceremony of Carols.  In their second programme which will be performed by candlelight, The Chanticleer Singers expose two contrasting Renaissance composers: Palestrina representing the conservative ecclesiastical side, and Gesualdo, whose music imitates his life in its drama and colour.

 Chanticleer singers

The music programme will also feature the ever-popular Symphony Concert featuring the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, the East Cape Philharmonic Orchestra’s Pops Concert directed by Richard Cocka series of concerts by KZN Ensembles, and the extensive Jazz programme.

The 39th edition of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown will take place from 27 June to 7 July 2013.

The National Arts Festival is sponsored by Standard Bank, The National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund, Eastern Cape Government, Department of Arts and Culture, National Arts Council, City Press and M Net.