Tomorrow night a remarkable event will take place in the Durban City Hall.
Celebrating its 30th anniversary, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic opens its 2013 Summer Season by hosting and collaborating with the World Orchestra (WO) at the start of the latter’s remarkable United in Music tour of South Africa, its 14th international tour.
The special event starts at 7.30pm with the WO, comprising young musicians from 56 countries, including nine South African players, taking centre stage under the baton of its chief conductor, the charismatic young Spanish maestro, Josep Vicent.
Opening with a burst of energy, they will play Dvorák’s magnificent Carnival Overture Op 92, followed by Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings and South African composer Hendrik Hofmeyr’s Partita Africana. After interval the visiting musicians join forces with the KZNPO for a spectacular rendering of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite No 2.
Interviewing maestro Vicent this week about the WO’s United in Music project, and its goals of bringing people together through shared experience, I asked about the challenges of working with such a culturally disparate body of musicians.
“United in Music is the result of a creative and educational process that unites South African and European young musicians with musicians and music lovers from all over the world.
“When you have a common objective, communication is far less daunting than one would think. Where the major challenge is found is in achieving the huge goals we set ourselves – three days in pulling a concert programme together with very intense rehearsal focus. With strong collaborative intent, it is astonishing what can be achieved. The same principle applies to countries focussing on creating positive working relationships with each other.”
South Africa is the first stop of the WO’s 2013 United in Music tour, a project of solidarity and musical exchange inspired by Vicent’s extraordinary diplomatic skills and his social commitment to achieving global harmony. Other countries to be visited this year are the Balkans, Spain and the Netherlands.
Since 2004, the WO and Vicent have carried out intense diplomatic work, promoting international co-operation through music in China, Mexico, Canada, Cyprus, Holland, Germany, Austria, and Spain. In September 2009, the WO was appointed cultural ambassadors for peace by the Culture of Peace Foundation.
“Besides our schedule of giving symphonic concerts, the WO’s South African itinerary embraces a series of educational activities, including a workshop held in Inanda this week, in an attempt to reach those communities in the country with less access to classical music. Traditional, new and classical music are used as a base to create a musical bridge for a cultural exchange where participants and musicians learn from each other.
“Music gives us the power to touch hearts, the power to influence our society to be more peaceful. This is my dream and responsibility, and that is the reason we travel the world with this orchestra of united nations. South Africa has proved to be a very strong partner in our project and we are determined to achieve our goal of peace and solidarity. The World Orchestra has the amazing energy of a young and pure generation of very committed musicians. I feel so lucky to conduct their global sound.”
After the success of The Most Amazing Day, a documentary film that portrays the experience of the WO performing for the inhabitants of the Sierra Hermosa desert in Mexico, the orchestra’s new adventure in South Africa will be also captured on film with a view to sharing the musical and cultural learning process with Europe.
United in Music has been designed by the international production company East-West-Music, in co-operation with its main partner in South Africa, the KZNPO, and with collaborations from Ubunye Music and Arts, Amsterdam Grachten Festival and Lowlands Festival (Holland), Ibermusica and Pollença Music Festival in Spain and Enfants Planète Esperanza in France and the Balkans.
The project is co-funded by the EU Culture Programme and receives support from various companies and institutions in Spain (Ministry of Culture of Spain, Cultural Industries, Marina D’Or and Valencia International University) and South Africa such as Laser Group, Plettenberg.
Booking is through Computicket at 0861 915 8000.