Review: Orchestral score with South African themes

Posted on: June 26, 2015

In Tuesday’s (6/23) Daily News (Durban, South Africa), Michael Green reviews the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of “a concerto for cello and piano by the South African composer Stefans Grove, who died recently aged 92 (the world premiere had been given a week earlier in Cape Town). This concerto is sub-titled ‘Bushman Prayers.’ Grove researched the spoken and musical traditions of the San (Bushmen) when composing this concerto. Obviously much of it sounds strange to ears attuned to the music of western Europe, but hearing it was an absorbing experience … the conductor, Carlos Izcaray, a 37-year-old Venezuelan, guided the orchestra skillfully through this complex work. … The concert opened with ‘A Johannesburg Overture’ by Allan Stephenson, who was born in England but has lived in Cape Town since 1973. His substantial musical output includes six [South African] geographical compositions … The African theme was continued with … ‘Africa,’ by Camille Saint-Saens … It has some exotic themes and rhythms, but Paris seems always to be on the horizon.  … Dvorak’s Symphony No 8 in G major took us back to old Europe.  … [Carlos Izcaray] has built a conducting career in the US and Europe. He recently organised a Concert for Peace and Liberty in Berlin, where he has been living, and he is now moving … to Birmingham, Alabama” as music director of the Alabama Symphony Orchestra.

Posted June 26, 2015