The JPO doesn’t often use local musicians, at least not often enough in my not very humble opinion, but this season sees two local artists. The first of these was Charl du Plessis – a Gershwin specialist. Du Plessis played earlier in the year for the Johannesburg Musical Society and he invited the audience to hear him play with the JPO later in the year. They turned out in droves to support him. They were wise. He is a superb pianist who gave us a beautiful rendition and the music itself, the famous Rhapsody in Blue, is charming.
On the podium was Michal Dworzynski. He has coaxed a very, very good sound out of the orchestra for the past two weeks. The music this week is technically very difficult, and it is certainly new repertoire for the less senior musicians. The orchestra started with Four Dance Episodes from Aaron Copland’s Rodeo, the Buckaroo Holiday, Corral Nocturne, Saturday Night Waltz and Hoe-Down. Then came the Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue. The lightness of the music should not fool anyone into thinking that this is easy. The mere jazz feel is difficult for some classical musicians and a shambles is always a possibility. Dworzynski held them together making it all seem effortless. After interval we moved away from American composers (although the composer was living in the USA at the time these were composed) to Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances, Op 45.
Next week’s guest for Wednesday 22, Thursday 23 and Sunday 26 August 2012, Avigail Bushakevitz, has just played in SAMRO’s flagship event, the Overseas Scholarship Competition. I was present at the semi-final round where I heard her compete against five other fantastic musicians. I jokingly said to the top nob of SAMRO, Andre le Roux, that the judges couldn’t possibly get it right because they couldn’t give scholarships to all of them. The standard was really very, very high. The judges picked two for the finals which were held on Saturday night. I was unable to be present for these. I was not surprised, though, to learn on Sunday morning that it was young Avigail Bushakevitz who won the classical section. For the record it was Darren English who won the jazz section. Earlier this year the Johannesburg Musical Society featured Avigail Bushakevitz at one of their recitals.
The programme for next week will see Bushakevitz playing the Saint-Saens Violin Concert No 3 in B minor, Op 61. Under Berhard Gueller’s baton, the concert will open with Debussy’s Petite Suite (orchestrated by Henri Busser) and play out with Mendelssohn’s beautiful Italian symphony. The SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Finals were limited to invited guests only, but there are still tickets available to hear the winner, Avigail Bushakevitz, play with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. As Avigail Bushakevitz will be studying overseas – and is already predominantly USA based – opportunities to hear her play are going to become increasingly limited. I recommend that you take this opportunity to hear this very talented young violinist while you can.
The orchestra for the third season comprises the following: Miroslav Chakaryan, Elbe Roberts, Dorota Swart, Melale Mantu, Juanita du Plessis, Nelly Shmukler, Mary Tennant, Lizelle le Roux, Ginger Neff, Elena Zlatkova, Bongane Pandeka, Pascali Mokadi, Samson Diamond, Daline Wilson, Olga Maraba, Milena Toma, Bernard Madumo, Kabelo Motlhomi, Willem van der Walt, Marla Branco, Dineo Matsepe, Mlungisi Zulu, Vladimir Ivanov, Esther Spies, Andrea Erasmus, Martie Botha, Kate Moore, Annemie du Plessis, Jean-Louise Nel, Bafana Mthembu, Susan Mouton, Peta Ann Holdcroft, Sonja Bass, Wessel Beukes, Daliwonga Tshangela, Toni Ivanova, Christi-Louise Swanepoel, Regomoditswe Thothela, Zanelle Britz, Cecilia Kriegler, Ventura Rosenthal, Merryl Monard, Melane Hofmeyr-Burger, Handri Loots, Gary Roberts, Lesley Stansell, Peter Jaspan, Andrew Moroosi, Phillip Coetzee, Morne van Heerden, Leagh Rankin, Penelope Ives, Brahm Henkins, Kgothatso Kekana, Shannon Armer, Christopher Bishop, Peter Griffiths, Jaco van Staden, Donald Bower, Michael Magner, Bernt Baumann, Alexander Urban, Berwyn Roberts, Nathan Thomas, Alexander Hitzeroth, George Fombe, Rudolf van Dyk, Matthew Downey, Joshua Kim, Gerben Grooten, Diane Coutts.
The Linder Auditorium is situated at the Education campus of the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), 27 St Andrews Road, Parktown. Telephone for the venue is 011 717 3223 and telephone for the JPO is 011 789 2733. GPS co-ordinates: 26° 10′ 54.6456″ S, 28° 2′ 29.8932″ E. Website: http://www.jpo.co.za. There is plenty of parking in front of the venue, with more to the sides and behind the auditorium. Facilities for physically disabled patrons are available. The Olives and Plates Cafe is open before the concert, during interval and the bar is open after the concert.