JPO Virtual Winter Symphony Season
The Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra is pleased to announce the Virtual Winter Symphony Season, taking place online from 19 – 28 August. To continue to bring great music to music lovers, and in light of COVID-19 regulations, the JPO has been hard at work to create the Virtual Winter Symphony Season.
The Season comprises a two-week programme, filled with popular and exciting repertoire. Performances were recorded at The SABC Studios in Johannesburg, whilst observing strict COVID regulations. Although there was no live audience, the musicians were on exceptional form. Their passion to make the performances as immersive and entertaining as possible can be seen, and the energy and enthusiasm of the orchestra is evident. The JPO Virtual Winter Symphony Season was designed to reflect the vivacity of our artists.
Concerts will be available for online viewing as follows:
Concert 1: Thursday 19 August (midday) – Saturday 21 August (midnight)
Concert 2: Thursday 26 August (midday) – Saturday 28 August (midnight)
This concert will be available for viewing as follows:
Thursday 19 August (midday) – Saturday 21 August (midnight)
Jean Sibelius: Karelia Overture op. 10
George Gershwin: Rhapsody in Blue
Modest Mussorgsky: Night on Bald Mountain
Franz Liszt: Les Preludes, S.97 (Symphonic poem no3)
Duration: 60 minutes
We start our programme with Jean Sibelius’ Karelia Overture, Op. 10. Sibelius was commission by a local student society to compose some incidental music for an upcoming celebration of Karelian history. Sibelius was asked to produce corresponding items of music for the seven different scenes of the play, plus an overture. He undertook the project with a passion, and the resulting music is the first incidental music ever written by Sibelius -- the first in a very long and distinguished series of such works.
This performance is followed by Rhapsody in Blue – the ever popular composition written by George Gershwin for solo piano and jazz band, which combines elements of classical music with jazz-influenced effects. The rhapsody is one of Gershwin's most recognizable creations and a key composition that defined the Jazz Age. Gershwin's piece inaugurated a new era in America's musical history, established Gershwin's reputation as an eminent composer, and eventually became one of the most popular of all concert works.
Night on Bald Mountain, is a series of compositions by Mussorgsky, inspired by Russian literary works. Although Mussorgsky was proud of his youthful effort, Night on Bald Mountain was never performed in any form during the composer’s lifetime. It is through a revised version that Night on Bald Mountain achieved lasting fame, and has become familiar to modern audiences.
The final piece - Les préludes, is the third of Franz Liszt's thirteen symphonic poems. The music was initially composed as an overture but later revised under inspiration from the French poet Alphonse de Lamartine. Its premiere was conducted by Liszt himself.
This concert will be available for viewing as follows:
Thursday 26 August (midday) – Saturday 28 August (midnight)
Conductor: Jeremy Silver
Soloists: Miro Chakaryan (violin) and Susan Mouton (cello)
Johannes Brahms: Concerto for violin and cello, op.102 in a minor
Jean Sibelius: Symphony no2, op.43 in D major
Duration: 70 minutes
This week, we start the programme with Brahms’ Concerto for violin and cello – his final work for orchestra. It was no ordinary solo concerto, but rather a composition which united for the first time, in the form the violin and cello. Brahms approached the project with anxiety over writing for instruments that were not his own. The concerto was, in part, a gesture of reconciliation towards his friend and violinist, Joachim, after their long friendship had ruptured.
Our next performance is Jean Sibelius’ Symphony no2, op.43 in D major. It was during a visit to Italy, that Sibelius jotted down the first notes to his second symphony. More than a year after the first ideas were penned, the second symphony was premiered to three sold-out performances, with the composer conducting.
Conductor: Brandon Phillips
Winner of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s inaugural Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition in 2010, Brandon Phillips was appointed resident conductor of the CPO in June, 2015. He studied bassoon and viola at the University of Cape Town, receiving his B Mus Hons in solo bassoon in 2005. Phillips currently is principal bassoon of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, and Artistic Director and Conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra.
As a result of the Len Van Zyl competition, Phillips studied conducting at the Northwestern University in Chicago with Victor Yampolsky and was a conducting intern with the Philadelphia Symphony Orchestra. In 2014, he attended Arjan Tien’s conducting class at the Fontys Conservatoire – Tilburg and was Tien’s assistant conductor in a WDR Rundfunkorchester concert in Cologne in Germany. Phillips is regularly invited as an adjudicator and conductor for various competitions such as Artscape National Youth and Schock Singing competitions.
He works with many South African orchestras and choirs such as the Miagi Youth Orchestra, which he conducted to acclaim in Europe, the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, Bloemfontein University Symphony, and, of course, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. He has also conducted at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, In 2012, Phillips received Western Cape Government’s award for “ outstanding achievements by the youth”.
Soloist: Charl du Plessis
As one of the most unique and respected pianists from South Africa, Dr Charl du Plessis has contributed to a resurgence in the popularity of crossover music with his new improvisations combining jazz and classical music. As a versatile pianist, composer and arranger he is in high demand from concert platforms, recording studios, theatre stages to performing as soloist with orchestras. He has released ten albums and two DVDs and won several major music awards including two South African Music Awards, a Fiësta and a Ghoema for recordings by the Charl du Plessis Trio. He frequently performs in Europe, Asia, Australasia and North America, as well as at major music festivals in South Africa. Highlights include the Festival Musikdorf Ernen (Switzerland), Grachtenfestival (Netherlands), Choralies (France) and the Standard Bank Joy of Jazz (South Africa). Charl is a Steinway artist and a Spirio recording artist who holds a doctorate of music from the University of Pretoria under the tutelage of Joseph Stanford. He also studied with György Sebök in Ernen (Switzerland) Dan Hearle and Stefan Karlsson at the University of North Texas (USA) and Ulrich Koellah at the Musikhochschule Winterthur-Zurich (Switzerland). Charl has been the recipient of major prizes at international scholarship competitions and has performed in London’s Royal Albert Hall, Shanghai’s Oriental Arts Centre, the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg and the Berlin Philharmonie with Chick Corea. Charl recently became the first person to perform on top of Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain. Charl is a piano lecturer at the University of Pretoria and specialises in classical and jazz piano and improvisation. For more information visit www.charlduplessis.com.
Conductor: Jeremy Silver
Jeremy Silver studied languages and music at Clare College, Cambridge and conducting at the Royal College of Music in London. He furthered his operatic studies at the UK’s National Opera Studio where, fifteen years later, he formed part of the artistic leadership team. Jeremy has worked extensively in South Africa with all the country’s major symphony orchestras, as well as conducting La bohème (2012 and 2020) and Le nozze di Figaro (2014) for Cape Town Opera and Lucia di Lammermoor with Gauteng Opera. As principal conductor of Opera Africa (2004-2007), he conducted productions of I Capuleti e i Montecchi, La traviata and ‘Rigoletto at the State Theatre, Pretoria, as well the South African opera Princess Magogo at Het Muziektheater, Amsterdam. A selection of other productions includes Anna Bolena, Rinaldo, Serse, Alcina, Orfeo ed Euridice, L’incoronazione di Poppea and the Mozart Da Ponte operas (Longborough Festival Opera); Pelléas et Mélisande (Glyndebourne Touring Opera); Madama Butterfly (English National Opera); Ariadne auf Naxos (English Touring Opera); Aida, Carmen (Royal Albert Hall); La Rondine, Lucia di Lammermoor, Le Nozze di Figaro (Opera Holland Park); Les Huguenots, Tosca (Opéra-Théâtre de Metz), Turandot (National Theatre, Malaysia) and Die Fledermaus (Yale Opera). For English Touring Opera he also conducted two exciting Donizetti rediscoveries, L’assedio di Calais and Il furioso all’isola di San Domingo in performing editions resulting from his considerable editorial work on both scores. Jeremy served on the resident music staffs of English National Opera and Scottish Opera, and worked in addition as assistant conductor with Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Opera North. Jeremy is currently Director of the Opera School at the University of Cape Town and is an Associate Artist at Longborough Festival Opera.
Miroslav was born in Sofia, Bulgaria, and comes from a family of musicians. His father was the Principal viola of the Bulgarian Radio Symphony Orchestra for many years. Miroslav started violin lessons at the age of 6, and made his first public appearance at the age of 8, playing concertos by Vivaldi and Bach. He graduated from the Sofia Music School in 1984, and after a very tough selection process, was accepted into the National Music Academy in Sofia, from which he graduated in 1990. Since 1982 he has been performing regularly as a soloist in Bulgaria, and has worked with the best Bulgarian orchestras and chamber music groups, touring with them worldwide. Miro came to South Africa in 1991, where he was the concertmaster of the Bophuthatswana Chamber Orchestra. After completing his 2-year contract, he then joined the National Symphony Orchestra in Johannesburg. In 1995 he was appointed as assistant concertmaster. After the demise of the NSO in 2000, he was one of the founding members of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, of which he became the concertmaster in 2001. He was a soloist with the JPO on 3 occasions, and has been involved in numerous solo recitals and chamber music concerts throughout South Africa. In 2019, together with Zanta Hofmeyr, he won a Fiesta award for the best Classical Music Performance. Miro is also very involved in teaching, and has had a lot of success with many of his students winning awards. One of his students was the first South African student to be accepted to study music at the Moscow Conservatoire in Russia. He is presently still serving as Concertmaster of the JPO.
Soloist: Susan Mouton
Susan Mouton grew up in Durban, where she began cello lessons at the age of 10. She studied at the University of Pretoria under Professor Gerard van de Geest. Here she was the recipient of the Pretorium Trust bursary on three occasions, as well one of the winners of the Unisa SA Music Scholarship. During her studies she often appeared as soloist with the University Orchestra, and in 1981 she was one of the soloists in the CAPAB Music Festival. After she graduated, she joined the National Symphony Orchestra in 1983, and was appointed Principal cellist in 1987. She studied with Marian Lewin while completing her Performer’s Diploma at Wits University, and was one of the winners of the Unisa Overseas Study Bursaries in 1987, which she used to spend three months attending master classes in Europe with a number of esteemed cellists, including Arto Noras, William Pleeth, Johannes Goritski and Wolfang Laufer. She was also fortunate enough to attend a Cello Congress in Washington at this time, where she was able to meet one of her heroes, Mstislav Rostropovich. Since 2000 she has been Principal cellist of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. in addition to her orchestral playing, she is active as a chamber musician, and is thrilled to have joined the Wits trio in the past few years. In 2001, she was on the jury for the National String Competition, and in 2010, she was honoured to be chosen as the only South African string specialist on the jury for the International String Competition.