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​The Johannesburg International Mozart Festival will offer up interesting collaborations between local and international musicians, as well as a series of workshops.
HOW the mix of genres influences the world’s music will be fodder for debate at a symposium running concurrently with the fourth annual Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF).

Paul HanmerPaul Hanmer will speak at a jazz workshopThe festival is billed to run at various venues, such as the Linder Auditorium, the University of Johannesburg Theatre, Northwards House, Villa Arcadia, St Mary’s Cathedral and places in Soweto, from 27 January to 19 February.

The symposium is designed for young composers and performers and this year is part of an intercultural education exchange scheme with a similar group of students from Germany.

Scholars, performers and composers will make presentations and discuss western art, jazz, classical, South African traditional and pop music. In previous years, the JIMF has hosted various workshops and school concerts that have benefited youngsters in Soweto and Alexandra.

Event publicist Gilly Hemphill says the fourth annual JIMF promises a number of piano recitals, chamber, symphony and solo concerts as well as “contributions from diverse backgrounds”.

Speakers invited to lecture include jazz greats such as Paul Hanmer, Pops Mohamed, Frank Mallows and Unisa professor Josef Protschka, among others. The workshops are held in conjunction with the Goethe Institute.

“A number of high calibre international artists join their South African colleagues to make music and inspire a younger generation of musicians. Coming from the UK is Brazilian Cristina Ortiz, whose natural musicality and masterful craftsmanship have ensured her a place among the most respected pianists in the world,” Hemphill explains.

Hemphill says the symposium is intended to generate ideas and stimulate initiatives for future JIMF events and is designed to establish a productive dialogue between music practice, music writing and debate. It will also reflect on German musicians.

“A two-week-long master class will be on offer – one for organists and one for South African vocal talents focusing on development of singing technique, style and interpretation,” she says. And the festival line-up will feature symphony, chamber and choral concerts, recitals and a number of concerts and workshops for young artists. It is themed Quasi Improvisando.

Cristina Ortiz (Photo: Sussie Ahlburg)Cristina Ortiz (Photo: Sussie Ahlburg)Hemphill says the JIMF aspires to reflect Mozart’s ingenuity and to traverse the boundaries between music genres, disciplines and discourses. “JIMF 2012 will see the realisation of two new orchestral commissions, one for flute and orchestra and the other a triple concerto for violin, piano, jazz trumpet and orchestra.”

The opening concert will be held at the University of Johannesburg’s Theatre and will feature former Standard Bank Young Artists Award winners Melanie Scholtz on vocals and Samson Diamond on violin. They will collaborate with Melvin Peters on piano, Godfrey Mgcina on percussion and another former young artists award winner for jazz, saxophonist Shannon Mowday.

The first chamber concert will be held on Saturday, 4 February and will feature German-Japanese violinist Mirijam Contzen alongside Peter Martens on the cello and the JIMF artistic director, Florian Uhlig, on piano.

At the second chamber concert, on Friday, 10 February, Ortiz and others will perform Chopin’s Piano Concerto No.1 in E minor. On Monday, 13 February the Benjamn Schaefer Trio with guest artist Melanie Scholtz will play at Bassline in Newtown.

Another chamber concert on Wednesday, 15 February will feature Italian flautist Massimo Mercelli on stage with Uhlig. On Thursday, 16 February, Maurice Steger on recorder will collaborate with James Grace on guitar at Villa Arcadia in Parktown.

The final concert, on Sunday, 19 February, will be at the Linder Auditorium and will feature renowned conductor Kristjan Järvi. “The Johannesburg International Mozart Festival’s chamber concerts are perfectly set up for an intimate classical music experience,” Hemphill says.

The JIMF is an annual celebration of the genius of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. He is regarded as one of the most exceptional musicians of all time and was a gifted composer, arranger, performer, conductor, teacher, writer, commentator and scholar.

The festival has been an annual highlight on South Africa’s classical music calendar since 2006.

“While Mozart has always been our red thread, the festival has developed hugely in terms of size and significance over the past three years and the Mozart focus has seen a number of exciting innovations and contextualisation that resonate more and more meaningfully within the South African soundscape,” says Uhlig.

Tickets for concerts at the Linder Auditorium and the University of Johannesburg Theatre are available through Computicket. Tickets for concerts at Northwards House, Villa Arcadia, St Mary’s Cathedral and venues in Soweto are available on 011 447 9264. There is a 10 percent discount for students under 21 and pensioners over 65, and for block bookings of more than 10 people.

For more information visit the JIMF website or join its Facebook group for regular updates and competitions.

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