Durban concertgoers spoilt for choice

Classical music enthusiasts have two free lunch hour concerts at UKZN’s Howard College Theatre to look forward to shortly, each featuring Durban pianist Andrew Warbuton.  The first of these, on Wednesday May 13 at 12h15, offers a programme of music written for two pianists, in which Warburton will be partnered by Brendan Hollins, a graduate of UKZN and Stellenbosch University, currently serving on the music faculty of Grand State University of Michigan in the United States. Their programme includes Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite for Piano Duet, Mozart’s Piano Sonata for Four Hands in F minor K497, and concludes with three movements from Rachmaninoff’s Fantasie- Tableaux Suite for Two Pianos.


Warburton’s second recital this month takes place on Tuesday May 19 also at 12h15, when he will partner soprano Vanessa Tait-Jones. Their programme opens with four lieder by Johannes Brahms: Liebestreu Op.3 No 1, Vergebliches Stӓndchen Op 84 no. 4, Die Mainacht Op. 43 No 2, and Meine liebe ist grün Op. 63 no. 5 (the latter item noted for its formidably taxing piano part).  This group will be followed by four much loved melodies by Gabriel Faure,  Apres un reve, Les rose d’ispahan, Chanson d’amour  and Notre amour.  A selection of well-known arias complete the programme. These include: the haunting Ebben? Ne andrò lontana? from Catalani’s opera, La Wally; Marguerite’s ‘Jewel Song’ from Gounod’s Faust; Mi chiamano Mimi from Puccini’s La Boheme;  Frantz Lehar’s; Meine lippen sie küssen so heiss  from Giuditta; and the evergreen, ‘Italian Street Song’ from Victor Herbert’s  operetta, Naughty Marietta.


On a different note, the Durban Chamber Choir, under the musical direction of Christopher Cockburn, will perform an hour-long programme of English choral music from the Renaissance and Romantic periods by two important British composers, William Byrd (1540-1623) and Charles Villiers Stanford (1852-1924). This event will be presented at St Thomas’s Church in Musgrave on Sunday May 17, starting a 3pm.


 “During the Renaissance, English music could hold its own with the best produced anywhere in Europe”, Cockburn notes. “After the death of Purcell, however, and particularly as a result of the influence of Handel on English composers, the most significant musical developments moved elsewhere.”  


“It was only at the end of the nineteenth century, and notably in the music of Stanford, that signs began to appear of another ‘musical Renaissance’ which would reconnect British music to the European mainstream and produce composers of the stature of Elgar, Vaughan Williams and Gustav Holst (the last two being pupils of Stanford).”


Cockburn writes that Byrd and Stanford will each be represented in the Chamber Choir programme by a varied selection of works, sacred and secular, unaccompanied and with organ, including settings by both composers of the Latin text ‘Justorum animae’ (The souls of the just) and of the Anglican Evening Canticles. “In addition to the stylistic differences between the composers, the programme includes strong contrasts of mood: from Byrd’s joyful ‘Deo gratias’ and sorrowful ‘Wounded I am’ to Stanford’s light-hearted ‘Shall we go dance?’ and serene ‘Blue Bird’, this last being as exquisite a miniature as any in the choral repertoire.”


 The two halves of the programme will be linked by an attractive rarity from the period between these two composers, the Duet for Organ by Samuel Wesley, which will be played by Cockburn and Jacques Heyns. The above programme will be reprised at the Lutheran Church in Hayfield, Pietermaritzburg, on Sunday May 24, also starting at 3pm. Tickets for both concerts available at the door are R50 per person (R30 for students and pensioners). Tea and cake will be served after each performance.


Finally, a reminder that the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2015 Winter Season of Symphony Concerts in the Durban City Hall runs every Thursday evening at 7.30pm from May 21 to June 25. For details about the season’s roster of guest artists, and the eclectic mix of concert favourites and a number of intriguing rarities to be performed, visit the orchestra’s website at To subscribe call 031-369 9438. For individual concert bookings, call Computicket on 0861 915 8000 or log onto



1/ Pianist Andrew Warburton performs  two lunch hour recital programmes at UKZN’s Howard College Theatre this month, appearing in partnership with fellow pianist Bendan Hollins on Wednesday (May 13), and with soprano Vanessa Tait-Jones on May 19.


2/ The Durban Chamber Choir perform English choral music at St Thomas’s Church in Musgrave on Sunday May 17, and at the Lutheran Church in Hayfield Pietermaritzburg on May 24


Photos by Val Adamson



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