What with the JPO’s recent woes we are delighted to have another four week season of beautiful music. Chatting with Duncan Gibbon, the Chief Executive Officer of the JPO, before the concert had him confirm that the seasons are all going to be four weeks long from now on. Apparently it suits people better than the traditional six week season. His aim, however, will be to increase the number of seasons from the traditional four to a new six season year, which will result in the same number of concerts – 24 a year.
In the past the JPO have not made much use of local artists, but after they went into business rescue the situation was changed. This thrilled me. I enjoy hearing our own musicians and local conductors. Eventually the aim is for the JPO to have a wholesome mix of international and local artists. Joshua Bell, the acclaimed violinist will be returning to the JPO in September, so bear that in mind.
The concert this week features the Russian conductor Naum Rousine who has been living in South Africa since 1992. He is based in the KZN, but works extensively with the Cape Town City Ballet. Rousine made his debut with the JPO. His conducting style is easy on the eye from an audience point of view with neither a boring unemotional approach, nor a widely expansive, hysterical set of gestures. The orchestra seemed comfortable with it, responding and playing well. Peter Klatzow’s The Healing Melody opened the concert. Duncan Gibbon will be making more use of contemporary South African composers in the future and in this season we also find a work by Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph in the final week. Once again this pleases me greatly. Local really is lekker.
Avigail Bushakevitz grew up in South Africa. She is currently based in Berlin. No stranger to the JPO audiences, she has matured into a wonderful violinist and her interpretation and playing of the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto had the audience on their feet in a standing ovation at the end of the concert.
The evening ended with Brahms Symphony No 3, Op 90, F Major.
For me the test of a good evening at the Symphony concert is if I feel invigorated and contented at the end of the evening. I certainly did feel this way. I’m looking forward to the next three weeks. Next week we get to hear Stefan Louw and his newly formed Big Wig Opera Company. I have been following Stefan Louw for quite a while and I can recommend this concert based purely on what I know of his past productions.
When I first started writing reviews a very senior journalist pointed out to me that things like parking and the bar were not properly part of a review. I simply smiled and nodded. They are, in my not very humble opinion, very much a part of the evening’s success or failure and they most certainly belong in a review.
The Linder Auditorium is part of the Wits Education Campus – the old Teacher’s Training College. The student canteen was the Olives and Plates restaurant and many of the concert attendees arrived early, met friends and grabbed a bite to eat and a glass of wine before the concert. Others simply enjoyed tea or coffee and a slice of cake at interval. Still others joined with some of the orchestra members for a glass of wine after the concert. My friend who attends concerts with me and I usually had dinner there, although we gave the wine a miss, having some cold drinks instead, but we followed the pattern of tea and cake, and sometimes I joined the orchestra after the concert for a glass of wine.
I have damaged the medial patella ligament of my left leg and can’t walk even one unnecessary step so I gave the restaurant a miss last night, but I did see it. The new tender finds the restaurant “halaal”. No booze. And those who did attend weren’t necessarily convinced about the food. The new owners will try to establish what the JPO audiences want and will provide it, but their target audience is very different to the Wednesday and Thursday night crowds. I will report back on this aspect in due course.
This particular season has been funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund. All round there is hope now for the survival of the JPO. Much still needs to be done. The City of Johannesburg needs to prove that it is world class city and will support its world class orchestra. The Gauteng Province needs to start supporting this as well when it plans regional, national and international events. And big (and smaller) businesses who have done so much for the JPO in the past will always be needed in the future. (Hollard, when sponsoring a concert, mustn’t bring those delicious purple macaroons again on an evening when I am going to be there because I simply won’t be able to resist them).
Once again, well done to all concerned. Your audiences are very grateful.