The 10th Johannesburg International Mozart Festival is just days away and this year’s theme is “Ein Musikalischer Spass” (the Musical Joke). There is a lot to look forward to on the jam-packed programme.
From concerts, recitals and Don Giovanni to festival favourite Cinema Improvisando, CEOs conducting the orchestra and a Guinness World Record attempt for the most people crocheting in one place simultaneously, the festival has something for everyone.
“The festival is around the corner and our offices are a hive of activity. The build-up to the festival is one of our busiest times, but the buzz from the team is fantastic! We are excited to bring such variety to the Joburg audiences to kick off 2019, and are greatly looking forward to the Viennese New Year this weekend as an opportunity to whet festival-goers’ appetites,” said festival organiser Maestro Richard Cock.
Commemorating the 263rd birthday of the great composer, this highlight on the South African entertainment calendar, from January 25 to February 3, will be previewed by the annual Viennese New Year concerts.
Taking place on Saturday, January 19, at 5.30pm and Sunday, January 20, at 3pm at the Linder Auditorium, these lavish concerts will feature soloists Phenye Modiane (soprano) and Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi (tenor) singing dazzling arias, in addition to orchestral waltzes and polkas, which form the traditional backbone of the event.
The programme, which features Maestro Cock conducting the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, includes works by Offenbach, Anderson and the Strauss family.
In keeping with the festival’s theme, the organisers are encouraging patrons to add humour to their outfits.
Discussing the festival, which celebrates its 10th birthday this year, Maestro Cock said: “Ten years down the line we are still celebrating the birth of Mozart on January 27. The Mozart Festival began as a small selection of concerts, over just one weekend, and it’s now grown into a force to be reckoned with.
“It includes more than 20 events across three cities in the greater Gauteng region, over a 10-day period.
“Over the years we’ve celebrated many aspects of Mozart’s music and personality, and this year is no different, as we examine Mozart as a man of many jokes, both personally and within his music,” he said.
“This year, we celebrate his quirky sense of humour through the theme “Ein Musikalischer Spass” (the Musical Joke), looking at various forms of humour, from slapstick to irony and everything in between.
“So, come ready to have your funny bone tickled and your laugh lines deepened with the 2019 edition of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival,” Cock said.
The first concert, Charl du Plessis performing with his trio on the 25th of January, is already sold out, and tickets for other concerts are flying out the gates.
Saturday the 26th sees young Southern African composers Jesse Dreyer, Kayode Ibiayo and Conrad Asman present new commissions in collaboration with physical theatre specialist Craig Morris. These new works focus on bringing the JIMF theme to life, and the programme includes a discussion with the composers on the creative process.
The performance, supported by the Goethe Institut, will also feature a small ensemble of members of the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and Richard Cock, and the discussion will be facilitated by Composer-in-Residence Hans Roosenschoon.
Orchestra from Scratch is next in the line-up, on January 27, at the Scott Gym at the Wits Education Campus. Over 160 amateur orchestral musicians will be rehearsing from 11am that morning to make sure that their performance is like no other you’ve ever experienced. Entry to the performance at 3pm will be by donation, the proceeds of which will go towards supporting music students in their tertiary studies. The event, supported by Corobrik, promises to be fun-filled family entertainment with pieces by Albert Ketelby, Mafikizolo and John Williams, and all-time favourites such as a Jungle Book Medley and Colonel Bogey. It will be conducted by Susan and Richard Cock.
On Sunday, January 27, in celebration of its 5th birthday, the 10th anniversary of JIMF and Mozart’s 263rd birthday, the 67 Blankets for Mandela charity is teaming up with the festival to try to break the world record for the largest number of people in one venue crocheting simultaneously. The day’s entertainment will feature Elize Kruger on piano, Camelia Onea on violin, the Jeppe Pipe Band, the Jeppe Girls’ Marimba Band and baritone Timothy Moloi, among others. Registration for the event starts at noon and it’s all happening in the Linder Auditorium.
27 January is a jam-packed day, with another event occurring later that day at 6pm. JIMF will host a Violin and Piano Recital at Northwards House. UK-based duo Miriam Kramer (violin) and Nick Durcan (piano) present a programme with a twist, including works by Mozart, Elgar, Cage and their own version of Leroy Anderson’s ‘The Typewriter’.
Continuing the chamber recital line-up, French pianist Maxime Zecchini will perform in a Piano Recital on Monday, January 28, at 7.30pm, also at Northwards house. This recital is supported by the French Institute of South Africa and features works by Scriabin, Massenet and Bellini. Despite having use of both his hands, Zecchini will attempt this recital with only his left hand!
The rest of the festival line-up includes chamber recitals featuring German violinist Linus Roth, and Belgian clarinettist Annelien van Wauwe, both of whom will be accompanied by the JIMF Artistic Director Florian Uhlig, as well as a recital by Italian classical pianist Mariangela Vacatello. There is the annual Vocal Masterclass final recital, which will showcase the efforts of six young opera hopefuls who will have been coached by renowned German tenor Josef Protschka over the week of the Festival. ‘The Mozart Effect’ Chamber Music Concert examines barbs of music critics, great musical disasters and petulant conductors, and will also feature a premiere of a new work by former Composer-in-Residence Clare Loveday.
In addition to these concerts, there is the annual favourite Cinema Improvisando. This year there are two screenings; on Wednesday January 30 a collection of films by French director Georges Méliès, including the iconic film A Trip to the Moon (1902) (Think that memorable picture of the moon with a rocket stuck in its eye), and on Thursday January 31 a screening of Buster Keaton’s seminal comedy work The General. These screenings will be enhanced by improvised music from a small team of musicians lead by Paul Hanmer on the keyboard, including Dan Selsick on trombone and Tlale Makhene playing percussion.
Another event swiftly becoming an annual favourite is the BASA CEOs Conduct the Orchestra. A line-up of six CEOs pick their favourite orchestral work and, with guidance from Maestro Richard Cock, attempt to bring it all together with a live orchestra. Supported by BASA, the concert takes place on Friday, February 1, at 2pm, at The Spaceframe Theatre, Wits Education Campus. Entry is by donation, with all proceeds going towards supporting the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra.
The final day of the Festival promises an extraordinary line-up, starting with a performance of Mozart’s Requiem, arguably the most popular out of the composer’s prolific body of work. This performance is presented by the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg and will feature soloists Maudée Montierre, Minette du Toit Pearce, Nicholas Nicolaidis and Aubrey Lodewyk, as well as the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, and will be conducted by Richard Cock.
The climax of the festival will be the Closing Concert on Sunday, February 3, at 3pm. Taking place at The Spaceframe Theatre, Wits Education Campus, it will feature a new commission by Composer-in-Residence Hans Roosenschoon, as well as a past work, A new costume for the Emperor. It will also include Mendelssohn’s Piano Quartet No. 2 in F minor. Supported by the Rupert Musikstigting, it will see Florian Uhlig on piano, Linus Roth on violin, Jeanne-Louise Moolman on viola and Carel Henn on cello.
With something for everyone, make sure you don’t miss this stunning variety of events and performances.
More details of all programmes, as well as venues and booking information can be found on the JIMF website: www.join-mozart-festival.org