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Tuning up for the winter season

THE KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZNPO) is launching its winter symphony season, which attracts the cream of international and South African musicians.

Comprising a series of six Thursday evening concerts at Durban City Hall, the winter season runs from May 15 to June 19.

VOCAL STRINGS: 16-year-old American violinist Ad Williams opens the KZNPO Winter Season with the Bochabela Strings at Durban City Hall.

This season offers a wide range for KZN music lovers.

With at least 70 musicians on stage at each concert, this season brings diversity in both repertoire and soloists, who include violinists, classical guitarists, pianists and opera singers.

Two of the concerts feature choral works, while the closing concert is an opera gala showcasing an international rising star, Metropolitan Opera mezzo-soprano Krysty Swann.

Popular South African soloists include Francois du Toit, Chris Duigan (both piano) and James Grace (classical guitar).

According to the chief executive and artistic director, Bongani Tembe, the winter season promises to be a fantastic musical experience.

“It offers an interesting variety in terms of South African soloists and offers us the opportunity to attract a wide variety of people.

“And people are attracted to choirs in Durban and opera as well.

“We are certainly looking forward to it. And I think the attendance will also increase.

“We want to promote this season. And we are doing it in conjunction with the city. The city is very keen on this idea of utilising arts and culture to bring people of different ages and race together.

“They see it as a very good tool.”

Tembe says an important component of the KZN Philharmonic’s professional development initiative is offering performance opportunities to young South African musicians – this often acts as a springboard to their future professional careers.

In keeping with this initiative, every year members of the Bochabela String Orchestra, who are budding musicians mostly from the townships around Bloemfontein, travel to Durban to perform alongside the orchestra.

“The concert on May 15 features the rising American violin star, 16-year-old Adé Williams. She is going to be a great vehicle to inspire the younger people when they see someone so young performing at such a high standard. So that will inspire the kids from Bloemfontein.”

On the educational front, visiting conductors and soloists have been approached to present masterclasses to members of the KZN Philharmonic’s national cadetship programme as well as to students of Durban Music School and UKZN Opera School.

• The Thursday night symphony concerts start at 7.30pm, but for those who enjoy more background to what they are going to listen to, there is a pre-concert lecture in association with the Friends of Music at 6.15pm in the Alhambra Room at the Playhouse Theatre across the road from the City Hall. The Winter Season begins on May 15. Booking is through Computicket or by calling the KZN Philharmonic booking office on 031 369 9404.

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