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The first season of the year will include audience favourites, performed by the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and several leading international musicians.
THE Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) has invited several renowned international musicians and conductors to the city for its first season on the year.

Bernard GuellerBernhard Gueller will be guest conductorIt promises a not-to-be-missed series of concerts every Wednesday and Thursday at the Linder Auditorium in Parktown from 8 February to15 March.

The season will include pieces chosen by fans. “We did a survey last year and noted down what people would like to listen to. It was an important move because now we made a collection of people’s favourite melodies,” says Shadrack Bokaba, the managing director of the JPO.

Bokaba describes the performances as suitable for both old and young. “There is a nice age and experience balance,” he says. “We are also bringing our audience new conductors who have never been to South Africa before. It is going to be a not-to-be-missed occasion.”

Among the international musicians performing in Joburg, will be the English classical pianist, Michael Roll, who will launch this year’s season on 8 and 9 February accompanied by the JPO. The South African violoncellist Anzel Gerber – who studied in Russia – will add her magical touch to Dmitry Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No 1 Op 107, E flat major.

On 22 and 23 February, the German-Japanese violinist Mirijam Contzen will perform Samuel Barber’s Violin Concerto Op 14. Guided by the highly praised Romanian conductor, Horia Andreescu, the JPO will also deliver yet another of Barber’s work, Adagio for Strings, and Beethoven’s Symphony No 5, Op 67, C minor.

On 29 February and 1 March, the orchestra, still led by Andreescu, will perform Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 4, Op 36 F minor and Legiti’s Concerto.

The British clarinettist, Michael Collins, will join the orchestra to perform the Mozart Clarinet Concerto, K 662, A major. “Collins is regarded as one of the leading clarinettists of this generation, praised for his dazzling virtuosity and sensitive musicianship,” says Bokaba.

For the last two concerts of the season, there will be a collaboration between the JPO and the young talent, Pallavi Mahidhara, on piano with Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No 3, Op 26, C Major. The 24-year-old, who comes from the United States, won the fourth prize in the 2008 Unisa International Piano Competition. She also performed with the JPO that year.

Michael RollEnglish classical pianist Michael RollThe first two weeks of the season will be conducted by the Italian-born London resident, Guido Ajmone-Marsan. “He will also be wielding the baton during the concerts on 15 and 16 February, when the music menu will include Wagner’s Siegfried Idyll, WWW 103 and Mozart’s Symphony No 38 K 504, D major,” says Bokaba.

The JPO’s guest conductor, Bernhard Gueller, will lead the orchestra for the last two weeks of the season. The 25-year-old Russian pianist, Alexandra Lubyntsev, will join the orchestra for Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto, Op 26 C major.

Gueller will also conduct Dvorak’s Water Goblin, Op 107 and Berlioz’s Symphony Fantastique, Op 14.

The JPO was established in 2000 by a group of committed musicians after the National Symphony Orchestra was closed.

“[It] strives to be nationally and internationally recognised as South Africa’s leading philharmonic orchestra, performing music that incorporates the greatest accomplishments of classical and South African music genres,” states the JPO’s website.

All concerts will take place at the Linder Auditorium, on Wits University’s Education Campus, St Andrew’s Road in Parktown. Concerts start at 8pm on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Tickets are available at Computicket or at the door, and range from R80 to R180 each. They are R50 for students and senior citizens.

School groups that cannot travel at night are welcome to watch the final rehearsals on Wednesdays at 10.30am.

Arrangements should be made in advance. For more information, call 011 789 2733, email or visit the JPO online.

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