For lovers of slightly more serious vibes amongst the musical arts, the annual Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF) is an early wake up call. Now in its fifth year, this festival traditionally opens on Mozart’s birthday: 27 January.
The 2013 edition will be memorable. Sir Roger Norrington, the famous living British conductor who is a leading light in putting modern orchestral musicians in touch with the exact historical stylistic principles in the performance of pre-Romantic music, will conduct the opening concert this coming Sunday at 3pm in the Linder Auditorium, Parktown, Johannesburg.
Arriving this week to perform this concert is the Zurich Chamber Orchestra. Sir Roger has been their principal conductor since September 2011. This, however, is not a case where participation is limited to an overseas ensemble. Part of the JIMF’s ethos is to involve South Africans as well.
It is for this reason that more than 50 members of the South African National Youth Orchestra (SANYO) have been invited to experience the rehearsal and performance process under this legendary orchestral trainer.
An attractive programme was put together, while one of South Africa’s most renowned solo-instrumentalists, the clarinettist Robert Pickup, who has for a decade-and-a-half enjoyed an international career, will perform Mozart’s evergreen Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K622.
The other works are the same composer’s Divertimento in D major, K136 for strings, the contemporary Swiss composer Fabian Müller’s Labyrinth, and the majestic Symphony No. 5 in C minor, opus 67 which opens with the most famous “fate” motif in music history: “Ta-ta-ta taaaa”.
This concert will be repeated four times in other centres: January 28 in the ZK Matthews Hall, Unisa, Pretoria, January 29 in the Durban City Hall, January 31 in the Endler Hall, Stellenbosch, and February 1 in the New Apostolic Church, Silvertown, Cape Town.
With this year’s JIMF theme being If You Would Dance?, a number of presentations focus on various forms of rhythmic body movements. One of the leading figures in this wing of the festival is the SA born Bongani-Ndodana-Breen, who is also 2013’s Composer-In Residence. He has an impressive international reputation as a composer of standing and originality.
The work he is bringing is a piano concerto called Mzilikazi. It is based on a theme from Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo’s Bawo Thixo Somandla, and anthem he wrote 40 years ago at the height of the difficulties during this country’s struggle for liberation. This rhythmic dance-like piece is to be performed by Florian Uhlig and the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra conducted by Richard Cock on February 2 at 7.30 pm. Other popular composers featured are Saint-Saëns and Beethoven.
This year’s festival runs till February 10 and will, apart from a number of choreographed dance events, also include improvisations on silent movies by SA jazz composer and pianist Paul Hanmer, choral and solo voice concerts, master classes, piano, guitar, violin recitals as well a programme, Choreography of Sound – King Kong, featuring Carlo Mombelli, Siya Makuzeni, Sydney Mnisi and Jonathan Crossley, amongst others on February 10.
• For the full programme and booking information, visit www.join-mozart-festival.org.