Young, old or in between, the Mozart Festival will lift your spirits

Johannesburg International Mozart Festival
Johannesburg International Mozart Festival

What do you do if a scary monster has kidnapped you because of your magic voice, and not one of your brothers can save you? You use your own initiative, of course! Tintinyane, a beautiful tale written by Corlie Fourie, orchestrated by Peter Klatzow, and narrated by the inimitable Peter Terry is one of the reasons you need to bring your children to experience this year’s Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF).

From January 26 until February 4 this delightful festival, now in its tenth year, will amaze and entertain, amuse and challenge you to see and hear the opposites – the villains and victors, the men and women, the brothers and sisters, the high notes and low ones in the world’s most beautiful music.

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Cara Stacey
Cara Stacey

Mozart was only six years old when he started playing multiple musical instruments in public, but his music is not (only) child’s play, as the directors of this festival, Richard Cock and Florian Uhlig, will show you. There’s something in the programme to enchant you, whether you are 6 or 96 and everything in between.Taking place in no less than eight venues in Johannesburg, the festival has much to appeal to your children, with the potted version of Mozart’s Magic Flute, featuring the man with a voice like an angel, tenor Nicholas Nicolaidis and Jessica Ng, Chinese soprano starring as the queen of the night.

If you’re up for some of this festival’s delightful chestnuts, such as the Orchestra from Scratch, which sees novice musicians making up one giant orchestra, or Conduct the Orchestra, which puts businessmen on the podium with a baton in hand, you won’t be disappointed. Cinema Improvisando, an outdoor screening of a 1918 silent movie accompanied by Paul Hanmer on keyboard also features, and of course, there is all the pomp and circumstances of the Viennese New Year’s concert, a week before the festival officially begins. Not to forget a concert by Buskaid, with both early music and contemporary kwela on the menu for you.

Matthijs van Dijk. Photograph: Nicola du Toit
Matthijs van Dijk. Photograph: Nicola du Toit

As always, the festival features a Composer-in-Residence. In the past festival-goers have experienced and learned more about the works of Peter Klatzow, Paul Hanmer, Clare Loveday and others. This year, there is not one but two Composers-in-Residence – Matthijs van Dijk and Lungiswa Plaatjies. Both from Cape Town, these talented composers form part of an ensemble ignominiously called ShhArt.

New music more your thing? No problem! You will get to listen to experimental and contemporary work by Cara Stacy, Arthur Feder and Nompostile Nyiki in ways that you could not have anticipated, as well as new South African pieces workshopped and pulled together by the SshArt ensemble in the closing concert.

But that’s not all: JIMF’s 2018 programme also boasts an evening with the wonderful Charl du Plessis trio who will set your heart on fire, as well as the annual association with the Johannesburg Musical Society that brings Lithuanian pianist Muza Rubackyte on board.

History doesn’t fall out of the equation in the thinking of this festival either. On January 27, it’s the International Holocaust Memorial Day, and the Mozart Festival, in collaboration with the Turkish Embassy in Pretoria, is hosting a moving and powerful screening of a documentary which tells the story of Lina Kantor (Amato), who escaped from Rhodes Island during the time of the Holocaust.

This year’s festival promises to bring the magical spirit of music into your life in a way you won’t believe until you’ve experienced it. Don’t hesitate in clearing your diary for one fantastic recital after another. Experiencing classical music will never be the same again.

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