May 2, 2017

Calendar

Jun
2
Sat
GPO JOHANN STRAUSS GALA 2018 @ Brooklyn Theatre
Jun 2 @ 6:00 pm – Jun 3 @ 2:00 pm

JOHANN STRAUSS GALA 2018
Saturday  02 June 18:00  &  Sunday 03 June 15:00

Conductor: Rik Ghesquière 
Soloist: Jolene McClelland (mezzo soprano) 
Guest Artist: Gilah Kellner (violin) 14 years old. 

The Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestra is proud to present a festive Viennese concert, featuring the magical music of Johann Strauss II.

The Belgian conductor Rik Ghesquière is no newcomer to the Brooklyn Theatre stage. Patrons thoroughly enjoyed the stylish manner in which he handled the previous GPO Strauss Gala ( 2015) as well as the GPO Opera Gala (2016).

Ghesquière has joined hands with the GPO Artistic Director, Willem Vogel, to compile an attractive programme of Waltzes, Polkas and more, for this glamorous event.

The South African mezzo-soprano, Jolene McClelland spent many years as opera / operetta singer in Vienna, before she recently returned to her homeland. She is currently a voice lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch. She made her debut with the GPO in 2017, when she performed the Nuits d’etè (Nights of Summer) song cycle by Berlioz.

Albeit that Johann Strauss is the main attraction on this programme, a little room was made for additional Viennese gems by Oscar Strauss, Franz Léhar & Sieczynski.

The 14 year old violinist, Gilah Kellner, was chosen to play with the GPO in 2017 for the annual Youth Concerto Gala. She has now been invited back as a guest artist, to perform the Hungarian Fantasy for Violin and Orchestra opus 45 (Léhar), in this Strauss Gala. Although Franz Léhar was mainly an operetta composer, this Fantasy is a beautiful gypsy showpiece, ideally suited to to a Viennese programme of this kind.

CONCERTS
Saturday  02 June 18:00  &  Sunday 03 June 15:00

Block A (Adult) – R310 Block B (Adult) – R260
Block A (Senior) – R260 Block B (Senior)- R210
Block C (Row P, Q, R) – R160

BOOK NOW

Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park

Johann Strauss Jr. was an Austrian composer and conductor of the 19th century, who became famous all over Europe as the “Waltz King” with his popular waltz compositions, such as “On the Beautiful Blue Danube,” “Vienna Blood” or the “Emperor Waltz”. His unique oeuvre includes more than 500 waltzes, 16 operettas, polkas, quadrilles, one ballet and one opera.

Unlike Mozart, Johann Strauss was born in Vienna in the year 1825. His father was already a famous composer with the same name – Johann Strauss. After he returned to Vienna from his extensive concert tours, he was so happy that he publicly repeated these words again and again: “There is only one imperial city. There is only one Vienna”.

Following example of his father, young Johann wanted to make his own career as a conductor. At the age of 19 he conducted his first concert at the famous Dommayer Casino which was a huge success.  The audience was overwhelmed by the unique style of his music and the concert ended with visitors applauding loudly and wanting more. Overnight, Strauss became a celebrity and his reputation as a gifted musician spread rapidly in the following years. His father was delighted with his success: his son suddenly became one of his biggest competitors.

In the following years the young Strauss toured Europe and North America, which caused a worldwide “Strauss hysteria”. Together with his brothers Joseph and Eduard he performed on the most important concert stages in the world. By 1864 Strauss composed exclusively dance music and propelled the Waltz genre to popularity, for which he earned the title “The Waltz King”. Three years later, the famous song “On the beautiful blue Danube”, most commonly known as “Danube waltz”, was composed and is today recognized as unofficial Austrian anthem.

Later, Strauss devoted himself to other dances, such as polka, gallop, marsh or csárdás. With his works such as “The Bat“ and “The Gypsy Baron“ he led the Golden Age of Viennese Operetta to its climax. Johann Strauss died on the 3rd of June 1899 and was buried at the Vienna Central Cemetery with great public participation.

Jun
30
Sat
GPO Music from the Movies @ Brooklyn Theatre
Jun 30 @ 6:00 pm – Jul 1 @ 2:00 pm
Music from the Movies
Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestra – GPO & Studio Chorale
Saturday 30 June 18:00  &  Sunday 01 July 15:00

Conductor : Paul van Zuilenburg

Music from the Movies features the exciting Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paul van Zuilenburg performing famous movie sound tracks
 
2001: A Space Odyssey (Also Spracht Zarathustra) – Richard Strauss
Schindler’s List: John Williams
Pink Panther: Henry Mancini
Arthur’s Theme: Christopher Cross
Band of Brothers: Michael Kaman
Crimson Tide: Hans Zimmer
Chicago: John Cander
 
Les Miserables Claude-Michel Schönberg Official
Harry Potter: John Williams
Star Wars: John Wiliams
The Magnificent Seven: Elmer Bernstein
Lord of the Dance: Sydney Carter
Scent of a Woman: Thomas Newman
Platoon: Samuel Barber Adagio
Spider-Man: Danny Elfman
Gladiator: Hans Zimmer
Tickets:
Saturday 30 June 18:00  &  Sunday 01 July 15:00
 
Block A (Adult) – R310 Block B (Adult) – R260
Block A (Senior) – R260 Block B (Senior)- R210
Block C (Row P, Q, R) – R160
BOOK NOW
 
Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park, Gauteng, South Africa

My vision for this choir is to expand the audience experience and knowledge of choral music through a broad and encompassing manner. Music from the early ages right through to modern day. We will be performing music that breaks away from the popular norm and allow our choir and audience to experience quality music that will enlighten and inspire both parties. (Ferdinand Liebenberg)

Aug
4
Sat
GPO LISZT vs SIBELIUS @ Brooklyn Theatre
Aug 4 @ 6:00 pm – Aug 5 @ 2:00 pm

AUGUST
LISZT vs SIBELIUS
Saturday 04 August 18:00  &  Sunday 05 August 15:00

Conductor: Rik Ghesquière

Liszt Les Preludes – Symphonic Poem
Liszt Piano Concerto no 1 – David Jalbert – from Canada (piano)
INTERVAL
Sibelius Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor, Op. 47
– Emmanuel Bach from UK (violin)
Sibelius Finlandia

CONCERTS
Saturday 04 August 18:00  &  Sunday 05 August 15:00

Block A (Adult) – R310 Block B (Adult) – R260
Block A (Senior) – R260 Block B (Senior)- R210
Block C (Row P, Q, R) – R160

BOOK NOW

Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park

David Jalbert

A virtuoso with a warm, elegant style and a wide-ranging repertoire, pianist David Jalbert has established himself among the elite of a new generation of classical musicians: “Jalbert’s piano playing is remarkable for its sweep, confidence, sensitivity, power and color, what more can we ask?” (Fanfare). Recently named by the CBC among the 15 best Canadian pianists of all time, Mr. Jalbert performs regularly as a soloist and recitalist across North America and Europe. His solo recordings – of the Goldberg Variations, the Shostakovich Preludes and Fugues, of American and French piano music – have all garnered international praise in venues ranging from Gramophone to France-Culture. An accomplished chamber musician, he has collaborated with artists such as Nicola Benedetti, Jean-Philippe Collard and the Quatuor Alcan and is a member of Triple Forte (along with violinist Jasper Wood and cellist Denise Djokic). A national and international prize-winner, David Jalbert has won four times at the Prix Opus and garnered three Juno Awards nods in recent years. He is a graduate from the Juilliard School, the Glenn Gould School and Université de Montréal and a professor of piano at the University of Ottawa.

Emmanuel Bach has performed as a soloist and chamber musician at venues including Wigmore Hall, St Martin-in-the Fields and St James’s Piccadilly. He was a prizewinner at the 2017 ROSL (Royal Overseas League) String Competition, and Mirecourt International Violin Competition 2016. Recently, he played in a live-streamed masterclass conducted by Maxim Vengerov, on the Brahms Violin Concerto. He is a selected artist on the Countess of Munster Recital scheme 2017-18.
As a chamber musician, he was a Fellow on the Norfolk Festival 2016 (USA) working with the Artis, Brentano and Emerson String Quartets. From 2013-15, he held a Leverhulme Fellowship at the Pro Corda Chamber Music Academy. Recently, he performed with the Bach String Quartet on BBC Radio 3’s Music Day. He has benefitted from masterclasses with musicians including Miriam Fried, Dong-Suk Kang, Shlomo Mintz, Maxim Vengerov, Peter Herresthal and Hugh Maguire. He studied with Natasha Boyarsky, reading Music at Magdalen College, Oxford, taking a Masters at the Royal College of Music. He is taking an Artist Diploma at the Royal College of Music, with Radu Blidar, supported by the HR Taylor Trust. He is grateful for support from the English-Speaking Union, RCM and Countess of Munster Musical Trust.

Franz Liszt LES PRÉLUDES

Liszt himself declared, after becoming an abbé in the Catholic Church, “The best of me is in my religious music.” However, the composer’s judgment has not coincided with posterity’s, which has set the seal of approval on Liszt’s piano concertos and many of his solo piano pieces, and on a select few of his orchestral works. Les préludes is one of these, being the most famous of his 12 symphonic poems. Liszt had a very strong conviction on the subject of program music, namely, that a given story is a symbol of an idea, and that the expounding of the inherent philosophical and humanistic elements of the idea in pure lyricism should be the goal.

In theory, and most often in practice, Liszt, of all the 19th-century composers of program music, was closer to realizing the sense of Beethoven’s preface to his “Pastoral” Symphony: “More the expression of sentiment than painting.” Of course, Liszt, like Beethoven, with his drenchingly graphic rain and thunderstorm, acceded to certain specific picturesque temptations. But essentially the Lisztian imagery is poetically suggestive rather than concretely descriptive, and it was arrived at in original musical ways that worked a profound influence on all those, including Wagner, prepared to accept a new order.

Liszt’s structural means for attaining his goal was the devising of a free form in which a few basic themes undergo continuous transformations of melody, rhythm, harmony, timbre, dynamics, or tempo (any one, or several, or all of these simultaneously). Thus, for example, a Lisztian love theme can emerge as a blazing march, or vice-versa. The first-mentioned is precisely what happens in Les préludes. In the climactic section, the pair of lyric themes labeled by Liszt “the enchanted dawn of every life” and containing the work’s pervading three-note motif, are transformed into surging battle calls.

Les préludes was composed in 1854 and to it was appended a program note written by Liszt, indicating that the piece is to be considered a musical depiction of a poem by Alphonse de Lamartine.

“What is our life but a series of preludes to that unkown song whose first solemn note is tolled by death? The enchanted dawn of every life is love. But where is the destiny on whose first delicious joys some storm does not break?… And what soul thus cruelly bruised, when the tempest rolls away, seeks not to rest its memories in the pleasant calm of pastoral life? Yet man does not long permit himself to taste the kindly quiet that first attracted him to nature’s lap. For when the trumpet sounds he hastens to danger’s post, that in the struggle he may once more regain full knowledge of himself and his strength.”

— Orrin Howard

Liszt Piano Concerto No. 1 in E-flat major

Until his 35th birthday, Franz Liszt pursued an active concert career as a virtuoso pianist, visiting every corner of Europe.  Universally acclaimed as the greatest pianist of his time, he now aspired to be recognized as a composer, too.  He had been writing music all his life (mainly piano music), but now he longed to concentrate on composition, tackle the great orchestral forms and realize the novel ideas that had occupied him for some time.  His appointment as music director at the court of Weimar marked the end of extensive travelling and allowed him to spend more time composing.  During the ten years of his tenure in Weimar, Liszt wrote his 12 great symphonic poems, his two symphonies (Faust and Dante), his B-minor Sonata for piano, and completed his two piano concertos and his Totentanz for piano and orchestra, which he had begun years earlier.

One of the main ideas Liszt brought to fruition during his Weimar period can be described as the “transformation technique.”  This technique, essentially a kind of extended variation, involves a basic theme recurring throughout a work and undergoing fundamental changes in character, tempo, rhythm, etc.

In his symphonic poems, Liszt put the transformation technique in the service of literary programs.  In his two piano concertos and in the sonata, he used it to achieve greater structural coherence and a unity of musical form in which everything grew organically out of a few basic cells.

Liszt worked on his E-flat major concerto throughout the 1840s and early ?50s, and first performed it in 1855.  The work is in a single movement, but the outlines of a four-movement form (allegro-slow movement-scherzo-finale) are clearly discernible.  The opening Allegro maestoso starts with a theme emphasizing half-steps, played by the orchestra before the piano bursts in with a virtuoso cadenza.  The opening theme then returns to dominate much of the Allegro.

The slow section (Quasi Adagio) has a lyrical melody in an operatic style.  The scherzo, with its constant triangle strokes, is followed by a recapitulation of material from the opening movement.  In the finale, some of the Adagio’s themes are brought to new life as the lyrical song is turned into a triumphant march and another cantabile (singing) theme heard earlier becomes a playful and virtuosic etude.  The music of the scherzo, too, reappears in the final Presto in which we hear again the chromatic theme with which the concerto began.  The work concludes with a cascade of octaves going up and down the entire keyboard in half-steps, in keeping with the concerto’s initial musical idea. © Peter Laki

Sibelius Concerto for Violin and Orchestra in D minor, Op. 47

Asked to use the words “Sibelius” and “violin” together in a sentence, most music lovers would automatically add the word “concerto” to the mix. It’s inevitable, really; Jean Sibelius’s D-minor Violin Concerto towers as an icy summit in the instrument’s literature. But Sibelius and the violin are connected in other ways, too. He aspired to become a violin virtuoso himself, but unfortunately fixed on that goal too late for it to be feasible. When he embarked on violin lessons he was 14 years old. By that age many virtuosos-in-training are already seasoned players, and the provincial in- struction available to Sibelius, combined with his tendency toward stage fright, limited his progress. Still, he became accomplished enough to play in the Vienna Conservatory’s orchestra when he was a student there, in 1890–91, and he even auditioned (unsuccess- fully) for a chair in the Vienna Philharmonic.

Sibelius enriched his instrument’s repertoire with quite a few works apart from this concerto. He worked on a second violin concerto in 1915 but abandoned it far from completion, recycling his sketches into his Sixth Symphony. He composed numerous works for violin and piano, including a Sonata (1889) and a Sonatina (Op. 80, 1915), as well as many items grouped into collections of short movements. Sibelius would complete his final composition in 1927 and in his final three decades limited his musical creativity to tinkering with extant pieces and making stabs at works that would never come to fruition. Shortly before he gave up composing, Sibelius was engaged one last time with the violin, though the Suite for Violin and Orchestra he projected would remain a fragmented draft.

None of these works rivals the Violin Concerto in combining Sibelius’s unique musical lan- guage with the capabilities of the solo instrument. This, in effect, was the central challenge confronting the composer. Already in such works as his first two symphonies and his Lemminkäinen tone poems he had defined his dark, sober sound, and these were not characteristics that would easily be melded with the more ex- troverted, even flashy tradition that surrounded most violin concertos of the 19th century. Sibelius was not naturally drawn toward composing concertos at all, and this would prove to be the only one, for any instrument, that he would see through to completion. Still, a concerto needed to have a certain degree of flashiness or else a soloist could hardly be expected to perform it. Sibelius solved this problem by creating what some historians have viewed as a deepening of the tradition.

The section of a traditional concerto most at odds with Sibelius’s predilection for profundity would be the first-movement cadenza, in which soloists are given the greatest opportunities to demonstrate their technical prowess. Sibelius meets the challenge head-on: he provides a solo cadenza but instead of presenting it as a sort of pendant to the proceedings he gives it immense structural importance, moving it to the middle of the movement and essentially making it fill the role of a development section. (A second cadenza, playing a more traditional function, originally stood at the end of the movement, but Sibelius eliminated it when he tightened the concerto in his 1905 revision.) Also non-traditional is the lack of real dialogue in this concerto, the sort of back and forth conversation between soloist and orchestra that listeners are more accustomed to hearing in the concertos of, say, Mozart, Beethoven, Mendelssohn, and Brahms.

The vast breadth of the opening movement is mirrored in the still beauty of the slow move- ment, melancholy in a way that perhaps recalls Tchaikovsky. Although this concerto is not a prime example of Sibelius’s occasional penchant for folk inspiration, the finale does seem to be a dance of some sort. The musical commentator Donald Francis Tovey called it “a polonaise for polar bears,” a description so perfect that few program annotators can resist quoting it.

By James M. Keller

Jean Sibelius. Portret door Eero JŠrnefelt, 1892 © Ambassade van Finland in Rome cover boek: Jean Sibelius – Ferrucio Tammaro – Musica E Musicisti (Italiaans) KVCA NR 160907 – Illustratie Sibelius door Eero JŠrnefelt (1892)

Sibelius Finlandia, Op. 26
by Phillip Huscher

Sibelius composed Finlandia in 1899 for performance at a political demonstration in Helsinki on December 14 of that year. He revised it the following year. The score calls for two flutes, two oboes, two clarinets, two bassoons, four horns, three trumpets, three trombones and tuba, timpani, bass drum, cymbals, triangle, and strings. Performance time is approximately eight minutes.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s first subscription concert performances of Sibelius’s Finlandia were given at Orchestra Hall on April 11 and 12, 1913, with Frederick Stock conducting. Our most recent subscription concert performances were given on December 4, 5, and 6, 1997, with Leif Segerstam conducting. The Orchestra first performed this work at the Ravinia Festival on July 11, 1936, with Hans Lange conducting, and most recently on July 20, 1997, with Erich Kunzel conducting.

In the 1890s, Sibelius was recognized by Finland as its greatest composer; after 1900 he became world famous. Finlandia marked the turning point. Its popularity surprised no one more than Sibelius, who had agreed to contribute some music for a political demonstration in Helsinki. But 1899 was a time of heightened political tensions, as the Russian hold on Finland was growing tighter, and so a simple and brief, but stirring composition called Finland Awakes, crowned by a big singable tune, struck home like a thunderbolt. The following year, Sibelius revised the score and gave it the title Finlandia, before the Helsinki Philharmonic, then only eighteen months old, took it on its first major tour, carrying Sibelius’s name and music throughout Europe (the tour ended at the Paris World Exposition). Despite the narrow political circumstances of its creation, Finlandia turned out to have universal appeal, and in very little time it made Sibelius the best-known living Finn in the world.

Like other works of great musical patriotism, such as Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, Finlandia does not necessarily represent the composer’s finest hour. As a musical achievement, it is scarcely more advanced than Sibelius’s model, the tone poems by Franz Liszt. Yet that is irrelevant in light of the personal fame, sweeping popularity, and national pride that these few minutes of music inspired. Just as Boléro eventually hounded Ravel, the success of Finlandia came to irritate Sibelius, particularly when it overshadowed greater and more substantial works. Still, this is highly effective music, richly scored and imaginatively colored—those dark clouds at the top are particularly unforgettable. Best of all, it boasts one of music’s great melodies, although, as in Elgar’s most famous Pomp and Circumstance march, it sometimes catches audiences by surprise, coming at the very last minute.

Finland gained its independence from Russia shortly after the Russian Revolution; its autonomy was officially recognized in October 1920.

Sep
1
Sat
GPO YOUTH CONCERTO FESTIVAL 2018 @ Brooklyn Theatre
Sep 1 @ 6:00 pm – Sep 2 @ 2:00 pm

GPO YOUTH CONCERTO FESTIVAL 2018
Saturday 01 September 18:00  &  Sunday 02 September 15:00

Conductor: Matheu Kieswetter

Closing dates: 15 Junie
Audition dates: Saterdag 30 Junie 09:00

The GPO is proud to present the Youth Concerto Festival 2018, with an exciting programme of brilliant young musicians ranging in age from six years to 23 years. The programme includes concerti for piccolo, flute, clarinet, violin and piano.

 

 

 

CONCERTS
Saturday 01 September 18:00  &  Sunday 02 September 15:00

Block A (Adult) – R310 Block B (Adult) – R260
Block A (Senior) – R260 Block B (Senior)- R210
Block C (Row P, Q, R) – R160

BOOK NOW

Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park

Sep
28
Fri
GPO Vier Letzte Lieder (Richard Strauss) Moldau (Smetana) @ Brooklyn Theatre
Sep 28 @ 7:00 pm – Sep 30 @ 3:00 pm

OCTOBER (Sponsored by Rupert Music Foundation)
The Moldau (Smetana)
Vier Letzte Lieder (Richard Strauss) – Erica Eloff (soprano)
Alexander Fokkens (Conductor)

CONCERTS
Friday 28 September 19:00 & Sunday 30 September 15:00

Block A (Adult) – R310 Block B (Adult) – R260
Block A (Senior) – R260 Block B (Senior)- R210
Block C (Row P, Q, R) – R160

BOOK NOW

Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park

“… her poise is remarkable in such a young singer – her statuesque bearing does her no harm, … Her voice is bright without being brassy, her phrasing musical and elegant …” – Melanie Eskenazi, Seen & Heard International

Erica Eloff:

Over the last few years, soprano Erica Eloff has steadily built her career on the concert platform to become a sought after soloist and recitalist. Praised in the media for her vocal authority and technical control, and a voice that is bright and well-produced across its range with great power at the top, she is a passionate and deeply musical performer.

Erica’s wide-ranging repertoire includes all of the major choral compositions including several lesser known works. As an active chamber musician and passionate performer of Lieder and contemporary music, Erica has presented world premiers of works by American, Argentinian, English and South African composers, including works specifically written for her by composers James Wilding, Augusto Arias and Hannes Taljaard.

As winner of the London Handel Singing Competition, Erica had the privilege of collaborating with Laurence Cummings and the London Handel Players on several occasions, including performing Handel’s Messiah at St. George’s. Her operatic experience includes the roles of Farnaspe (Adriano in Siria), Flowermaiden (Parsifal), Giovanna (Ernani), Chloë (Gruta de Ninfas), Ottone (Griselda),Galatea (Acis and Galatea), Meleagro (Atalanta), Euridice (Orfeo ed Euridice), Ilia (Idomeneo), Fiordiligi and Despina (Cosi fan tutte), First Lady and the Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte), Violetta (La Traviata), Tatyana (Eugene Onegin), Kate Pinkerton (Madama Butterfly), Dido and Belinda (Dido & Aeneas), Frasquita (Carmen), Adéle (Die Fledermaus) and Adina (L’elisir d’amore).

Erica’s engagements for the 2017-18 season sees her reprise the title role of Floria Tosca at the Schlossfestspiele Schwerin (G. Puccini Tosca), as well as return to the role of The Queen of the Night (W.A. Mozart Die Zauberfloete) for Theater Lübeck. She continues her collaboration with Opera Settecento for various concerts, as well as joining The Hanover Band for their Christmas Messiah tour throughout the UK. For up to date information about the various chamber music recitals and concerts she participates in throughout the year, please visit her calender.

When not performing vocal pyrotechnics or occupying herself with music and all things musical, Erica runs a busy family shuttle service as part of her duties as Elastagirl, and spends a lot of time cooking, cleaning and listening to her children singing, rhyming, arguing and relaying all sorts of random facts.

Everyone loves a winner. And, from the moment she began her final recital at the start of this year’s Handel Singing Competition, the South African soprano Erica Eloff looked and sounded the part… and I can’t wait to hear her again… She really inhabited each aria – and at the end was radiant with laughter as though she’d enjoyed every minute. We certainly did …” – Hilary Finch, The Times

Alexander Fokkens’ extensive experience, both local and international, his professionalism , and his intense passion for music have led him to become one of the most sought-after conductors in South Africa.

Committed to ensuring that performances under his baton are of the very highest calibre and level of musicality ,  Alexander’s artistic integrity , personality and energy on the podium , and his excellent rapport with musicians and singers alike , have made him popular with performers and audiences everywhere .

Since returning from the USA in 2005, Alexander has been involved in many different areas of classical music in South Africa , and he currently holds a number of posts .

In 2011 , he was appointed Artistic Director and CEO of the Free State Symphony Orchestra as well as Conductor of the Free State Youth Symphony Orchestra. He has been Music Director of the Symphony Choir of Cape Town since 2005 and holds the positions of General Music Director of the Swakopmund Musikwoche in Namibia  (since 2010) and Musical Advisor to the Namibian National Symphony Orchestra (since 2013).

Alexander is committed to the education of young musicians and one of his undeniable strengths is that of  discovering , inspiring , mentoring and developing  young musical talent  .  Under his expert guidance, students in youth orchestras such as the Fargo Moorhead Area Youth Symphony in the USA (2001-2003), Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony (1999-2005) and Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (2006-2012) have excelled , and these orchestras have risen to new levels of performance.

He has been involved for many years with the University of Cape Town Orchestras , both before and after his time in the USA. He is currently the Music Director and Conductor of the University of Cape Town String Ensemble  and Symphonic Band (2009 to present) ,  and is Resident Conductor of the University of Cape Town Symphony Orchestra (2006 to present).

His vision and unwavering dedication to the delivery of memorable performances have seen Alexander  become an acclaimed  guest conductor, both here and in the USA .  Amongst others, he has conducted the Latien Weed Honours Orchestra in South Dakota, The Grinnell Symphony Orchestra in Iowa, The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Opera, JMI Orchestra, the Black Tie Opera Company, Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, South African National Youth Concert Orchestra, Free State Symphony Orchestra and Youth Orchestra  , and the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa.  He made his European debut in 2006 , conducting Joplin’s Treemonisha in La Turbie, France and in 2016 made his debut at the Royal Festival Hall, Southbank, London as well as The Welsh Millennium Centre ( Cardiff ), The Bois Gais Theatre ( Dublin, Ireland ), the Mayflower Theatre ( Southampton, UK ), The Hippodrome Theatre ( Birmingham, UK ) and The Lowry Theatre ( Salford, UK ) conducting the production of The Mandela Trilogy.

Many soloists have enjoyed appearing with Alexander , and some of those  who have played or sung under his baton include John Owings, Curt Thompson, Pretty Yende, Koos Kombuis, Tumi Molekane, Leslie Howard, Anmari van der Westhuizen, Anton Nel, Pieter Schoeman and Samson Diamond, to name  but a few.

Graduating from the University of Cape Town in 1998 with a BMus in Orchestral Studies (Double Bass) , Alexander  then went to America and furthered his studies at Texas Christian University ,  where he obtained his Masters in Double Bass performance and completed 3 years of Additional Studies in Theory and Conducting.  He has studied with world- renowned conductors such as Omri Hadari, Gerard Korsten and German Gutierrez  , and has participated in Master Classes with Henry Charles Smith, William LaRue Jones, Jorge Mester, Joann Falletta, Leslie B Dunner and Ron Spiegelman.

Appearances in the near future include performances with the Free State Symphony Orchestra, Eastern Cape Philharmonic, Symphony Choir of Cape Town, and presentations in the USA where he will be resident from January until March 2017.

Alexander lives in Cape Town with his wife, pianist Margaret Foxcroft, and their four children.

RICHARD STRAUSS (1864 – 1949)
Vier Letzte Lieder

Some great artists – Mozart or Schubert for example – seem destined to die young, leaving a bitter aftertaste of promise unfulfilled. Others – such as Sibelius – burn out, sinking into a bleak creative silence with the approach of later middle age. But there are those who continue to blossom into old age – Richard Strauss was one of these. Strauss’s last years, however, were overshadowed by the appalling devastation of his homeland during the Second World War. His 15th opera, Capriccio, was finished in August 1941, and he knew it would be his last, telling his colleague Clemens Krauss: ‘Isn’t this D flat major the best conclusion to my theatrical life- work?’. In 1943 the theatre that had hosted the premières of so many of his operas – the Nationaltheater in Munich – was destroyed by Allied bombs, followed shortly afterwards by other treasured cultural monuments. In the spring of 1945 Strauss’s horror at the tragic whirlwind Germany was reaping found expression in the Metamorphosen for 23 solo strings; and after the collapse of the Third Reich, he and his wife went into voluntary exile in Switzerland, where he had to undergo the humiliation of appearing before a denazification tribunal (he had unwittingly allowed himself to become a puppet of the Nazi government in the early 1930s, when he was briefly appointed Director of the Reichsmusikkammer, and then hastily removed from office when he refused to forego his collaboration with the Jewish librettist Stefan Zweig).

In the early summer of 1948 the 84-year-old composer heard that his reputation had been cleared, and he was free to return home to Garmisch. But by now his health was failing, and he was forced to stay in Switzerland to undergo an operation. During that summer he worked on four orchestral songs, which were to be his swansongs. The first, Im Abendrot (At Gloaming), to a text by Eichendorff, was finished on 6 May; and the remaining three – all to words by Hermann Hesse – between 18 July and 20 September. The last song – appropriately enough – was entitled September. Strauss never set pen to paper again. In August 1949 his heart began to fail, and he died peacefully on 8 September, telling his daughter-in-law, Alice: ‘Dying is just as I composed it in Tod und Verklärung’.

Strauss never heard the Four Last Songs, which were first performed in the Royal Albert Hall by Kirsten Flagstad and the Philharmonia Orchestra under Wilhelm Furtwängler on 22 May 1950. Later the same year they were published in the order dictated by Universal Edition’s editor, Dr Ernst Roth (to whom Im Abendrot is dedicated) and in which they are most often sung today, beginning with Frühling (Spring) and ending with Im Abendrot. Over the past 64 years they have achieved iconic status among music-lovers and they have been performed and recorded by the greatest sopranos of the age, including Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Jessye Norman, Lucia Popp, Gundula Janowitz and Karita Mattila. The beauty of the poems is matched by incomparable orchestration – rich, glowing, but sufficiently restrained to support and enfold the voice. In the Four Last Songs, Strauss bade farewell to

his three great musical loves: the soprano voice, the violin and the horn. The horn melody that introduces the coda of September and the luminous violin that ushers in the third verse of Beim Schlafengehen (Going to Sleep) rank among the greatest orchestral solos of all time. All four songs are irradiated from within by the imagery of the setting sun and the awareness of approaching death, but there is nothing here of the bleak despair of Schubert’s late songs. Strauss and his life’s companion – his beloved wife Pauline whose voice inspired many of his greatest works – go hand in hand gently into the twilight, choosing not to ‘rage against the dying of the light’. Frühling is an ecstatic setting of one of Hesse’s most romantic poems, praising the beauties of spring; while in September, the sun, like the ageing composer, longs to close ‘its great, wearied eyes’. Beim Schlafengehen (setting a poem written during the First World War while Hesse was undergoing an emotional crisis) expresses the weary soul’s desire to live forever in the ‘magic circle of night’. Finally, Im Abendrot depicts an elderly couple who have come through life’s joys and sorrows together. Now, with tired eyes, they gaze at the sunset, while overhead two larks – portrayed by gentle flute trills – rise into the darkening sky. ‘Is this perhaps Death?’ they ask, to an echo of the ‘transfiguration’ theme from Tod und Verklärung.

© Wendy Thompson

Bedřich Smetana (1824‐1884)
The Moldau

Throughout the nineteenth century, feelings of nationalism swept across much of Europe. People hungered not only for political freedom but also for cultural experiences that would reflect their ethnic heritage. Nowhere were these sentiments stronger than in Bohemia, the birthplace of Smetana. (Although Bohemia is now the Czech Republic, it was part of the Austro‐Hungarian Empire in the early 1800s.)

Like many of his countrymen, Smetana grew up in the shadow of Germanic culture and politics. His family spoke German, he was first inspired musically by the Viennese masters, and as a young man he is even reported to have said, “With God’s help and grace I shall one day . . . be a Mozart in composition.”

Upon finishing school, Smetana moved to Prague, where he began earning a modest living as a piano teacher and composer. After participating in the unsuccessful Revolution of 1848, Smetana felt uncomfortable with the growing rift between Germans and Czechs in Bohemia, and as a result, accepted a teaching position in Sweden. Following the defeat of the Austrians by Napoleon III in 1859, however, the composer returned to Prague once again. With the Austrians gone, the climate was more favorable for Czech musicians, and Smetana now had a clear vision for his life and work. He changed his given name from Friedrich or Frédéric to Bedřch and began to consciously write works that reflect his ethnic heritage.

In 1874 the composer described one of his recent travels: “Today I took an excursion to the St. John Rapids where I sailed in a boat through huge waves . . . . The view of the landscape was both beautiful and grand.” Smetana’s trip inspired his famous symphonic poem The Moldau, which depicts Bohemia’s main river as it flows through the countryside. Part of a cycle of six symphonic poems entitled Má Vlast (My Country), this orchestral work was written in three weeks shortly after Smetana became deaf, but its fresh, optimistic mood gives no hint of the composer’s anguish and despair.

In many ways The Moldau is the epitome of quintessential Romanticism. There is a beautiful melody, and the entire work is filled with such programmatic associations as drama, nationalism, and nature. In the preface to the score the composer penned the following:

The composition depicts the course of the river, beginning from its two small sources, one cold the other warm, the joining of both streams into one, then the flow of the Moldau through forests and across meadows, through the countryside where merry feasts are celebrated, water nymphs dance in the moonlight; on nearby rocks can be seen the outline of ruined castles, proudly soaring into the sky. The Moldau swirls through the St. John Rapids and flows in a broad stream toward Prague. It passes Vyšehrad [where an ancient royal castle once stood], and finally the river disappears in the distance as it flows majestically into the Elbe.

Smetana realized that the music for such a program would not fit within the confines of a “true” symphony. As a result, he turned to the newer, more flexible genre—the symphonic poem. The Moldau is thus in one movement, not several, and there is no sonata form in which contrasting themes are developed through tonal exploration and presented again toward the end. Instead, new thematic material occurs in each scene of the story. In the hands of a lesser composer, the result might have been a mere series of vignettes. With Smetana, however, all the sections “flow” (pun intended) seamlessly from one to the other, and a truly magnificent river theme periodically recurs, melding together the various parts to create a unified composition.

Smetana takes advantage of the expanded orchestra of the nineteenth century. He uses relatively new instruments, such as the triangle, cymbals, and harp, for “magical” moments in the moonlight, while the lower brasses and shrill piccolo add excitement to the passage through the rapids.

Toward the end of the work, a feeling of triumph emerges as the music changes from minor to major. We realize that the Moldau is not just a river. It’s a symbol of nationalist yearnings that can instill immense pride but sometimes stir audiences to violent political demonstrations. It’s no wonder that when the Nazis occupied Bohemia during World War II, performances of Smetana’s The Moldau (as well as the remainder of Má Vlast) were banned in Prague, the composer’s home city.

Ironically, scholars have traced the “river theme” back to a Swedish folk song, one that Smetana probably heard during his one‐year teaching stint in Sweden. After the symphonic poem became well known, this melody appeared in a collection of Eastern Romanian songs and was later fitted to the words of Tikvatenu (“Our Hope”). The resulting hymn was Hatikvah, which was eventually adopted by the First Zionist Congress and became the national anthem of the State of Israel in 1948. According to Richard Taruskin:

The Moldau theme, with its Czech manifestations, can thus be looked upon as a stage in the history of a melody as it passed from Swedish origins to its Israeli destination. But of course, even this characterization is misleading. There are no origins and no destinations in such histories, only stages.

© Dr. La Wanda J. Blakeney

Nov
25
Sun
GPO Christmas Concert 2018 @ Brooklyn Theatre
Nov 25 @ 3:00 pm – Dec 2 @ 3:00 pm

CHRISTMAS CONCERT 2018
Conductor: Eddie Clayton

CONCERTS
Sun. 25 Nov 15:00
Tue. 27 Nov 19:00
Thu. 29 Nov 19:00
Sat.  01 Dec 18:00
Sun. 02 Dec 15:00

The only Christmas Concert of its kind in the whole of South Africa. Salon Music patrons have supported this annual event in huge numbers over the last 24 years. This concert has established itself firmly as one of the major highlights in the Gauteng Festive Season.

Block A (Adult) – R310 Block B (Adult) – R260
Block A (Senior) – R260 Block B (Senior)- R210
Block C (Row P, Q, R) – R160

BOOK NOW

Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park

Dec
27
Thu
GPO Christmas Concert 2018 @ Brooklyn Theatre
Dec 27 2018 @ 3:00 pm – Jan 3 2019 @ 3:00 pm

CHRISTMAS CONCERT 2018
Conductor: Eddie Clayton

CONCERTS
Sun. 25 Nov 15:00
Tue. 27 Nov 19:00
Thu. 29 Nov 19:00
Sat.  01 Dec 18:00
Sun. 02 Dec 15:00

The only Christmas Concert of its kind in the whole of South Africa. Salon Music patrons have supported this annual event in huge numbers over the last 24 years. This concert has established itself firmly as one of the major highlights in the Gauteng Festive Season.

Block A (Adult) – R310 Block B (Adult) – R260
Block A (Senior) – R260 Block B (Senior)- R210
Block C (Row P, Q, R) – R160

BOOK NOW

Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park

Dec
29
Sat
GPO Christmas Concert 2018 @ Brooklyn Theatre
Dec 29 2018 @ 3:00 pm – Jan 5 2019 @ 3:00 pm

CHRISTMAS CONCERT 2018
Conductor: Eddie Clayton

CONCERTS
Sun. 25 Nov 15:00
Tue. 27 Nov 19:00
Thu. 29 Nov 19:00
Sat.  01 Dec 18:00
Sun. 02 Dec 15:00

The only Christmas Concert of its kind in the whole of South Africa. Salon Music patrons have supported this annual event in huge numbers over the last 24 years. This concert has established itself firmly as one of the major highlights in the Gauteng Festive Season.

Block A (Adult) – R310 Block B (Adult) – R260
Block A (Senior) – R260 Block B (Senior)- R210
Block C (Row P, Q, R) – R160

BOOK NOW

Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park

Jan
1
Tue
GPO Christmas Concert 2018 @ Brooklyn Theatre
Jan 1 @ 3:00 pm – Jan 8 @ 3:00 pm

CHRISTMAS CONCERT 2018
Conductor: Eddie Clayton

CONCERTS
Sun. 25 Nov 15:00
Tue. 27 Nov 19:00
Thu. 29 Nov 19:00
Sat.  01 Dec 18:00
Sun. 02 Dec 15:00

The only Christmas Concert of its kind in the whole of South Africa. Salon Music patrons have supported this annual event in huge numbers over the last 24 years. This concert has established itself firmly as one of the major highlights in the Gauteng Festive Season.

Block A (Adult) – R310 Block B (Adult) – R260
Block A (Senior) – R260 Block B (Senior)- R210
Block C (Row P, Q, R) – R160

BOOK NOW

Brooklyn Theatre (012 460 6033)
Greenlyn Village Centre
C/o Thomas Edison and 13th Streets
Menlo Park