Festival 2023

Festival 2023

Festival Programme


Linder -


Astor Piazzolla (1921-1992)

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756-1791)
Fantasy in F minor K 608

Jacob Ter Veldhuis (*1951)
Views from a Dutch Train

Michael Nyman (*1944)
extracts from “The Piano Sings”

Sebastian Klein (*1978)

Igor Stravinsky (1882 – 1971)

Orchestra from Scratch


Opening Concert with Quattro Fusion & Shannon Mowday

2012-01-27 19:30:00 -
UJ Theatre, University of Johannesburg -

Quattro Fusion was initiated by Standard Bank to showcase the talents of the 2010 Standard Bank Young Artists for Music and Jazz. It is a collaboration fusing traditional jazz (American and South African) and classical music for a contemporary sound, offering a new take on familiar classics with special arrangements of Bach’s Air and Nat Adderley’s The Old Country.


2012-01-28 19:30:00 -
Nambitha, Soweto -

Quattro Fusion was initiated by Standard Bank to showcase the talents of the 2010 Standard Bank Young Artists for Music and Jazz. It is a collaboration fusing traditional jazz (American and South African) and classical music for a contemporary sound, offering a new take on familiar classics with special arrangements of Bach’s Air and Nat Adderley’s The Old Country.

Choral Concert

2012-01-29 15:00:00 -
Linder -

For a long time England thought it owned Handel (1685-1750). After all, though born German he had become a naturalized English citizen in 1727 as a result of which he changed his name to George Frideric Handel. He also effectively invented the English oratorio, at any rate in the 18th century, and established a unique way of matching English words to music. Much of his most famous instrumental music, such as the Music for the Royal Fireworks and the Water Music, was composed for English occasions. Yet, his musical style was primarily Italian though peppered with German, French and English elements, and he was German for more than forty years.
Handel’s Messiah is an English work. He composed the music in 1741 to a libretto drawn from the Bible by Charles Jennens. The ‘sacred oratorio’ was first performed in Dublin in 1742, and was scored for four soloists, chorus, strings, continuo, and occasional obbligato instruments such as trumpets and timpani. For many years its performances were limited to the British Isles where it became one of Handel’s best-known and popular works. After the composer’s death, however, performances began to take place elsewhere, though its then rather archaic style and limited orchestration prevented its being as popular as it remained in England. It was first performed in Berlin in 1767, but, more significantly, was probably heard two years later in London by the Austrian diplomat, Baron von Swieten (1733-1803). Van Swieten became a vital link in the spread of Messiah. He was the son of Empress Maria Theresia’s personal doctor, and became a diplomat for the Habsburg court both in London and at the court of Frederick the Great in Berlin. London enabled him to hear Handel (King George III’s favourite composer) and in Berlin he encountered the music of Johann Sebastian Bach, many of whose works had been preserved by his second son, Carl Philipp Bach. On his return to Vienna van Swieten became Prefect of the Imperial Library and President of the Court Commission on Education and Censorship. More importantly, at least as far as musical history is concerned, he showed Johann Sebastian Bach’s works (notably those for keyboard) to Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven, and commissioned performances between 1788 and 1790 of four of Handel’s works: Acis and Galatea, Messiah, Alexander’s Feast and Ode for St Cecilia’s Day. All these were arranged by Mozart, who admired Handel, once aptly commenting: “When he strikes, he strikes with thunder.” Van Swieten’s Handelian fascination went further when he commissioned from Haydn the oratorio The Creation after the latter had expressed a wish to compose an oratorio in the Handelian vein having wept at a performance of Messiah in Westminster Abbey.
Mozart’s 1789 version of Messiah was designed for contemporary Viennese taste and musical resources and was first performed at a private occasion in the Palffy Palace in Vienna on 6 March. By then Handel’s relatively sparse orchestration seemed too thin, even crude according to some commentators, and the role of the continuo had ceased to serve the function and be of the same importance as it had in Handel’s day. So Mozart enlarged Handel’s orchestra to include flutes, oboes, clarinets, bassoons and horns, and used the latter in particular to replace the continuo. Three trombones also appear in the overture and double the voice parts in “Since by man came death”. All these instruments changed the sound of Messiah from being an early 18th century work to being a later one. Good examples are two choruses: “Sein Joch ist sanft” (His yoke is easy) begins as lightly as Handel’s but it gradually acquires additional counter-melodies and some extra delightful woodwind counterpoints. “Wie Schafe gehn” (All we like sheep) replaces the continuo with horns and woodwind, whose repeated chords suggest the ‘march-like’ straying of the sheep. Mozart thus made the orchestration a more important part of the characterization of each movement than Handel.
Mozart went further than just re-scoring choruses. He omitted all, or part, of some arias and choruses, and reallocated some of the arias to different voices. For instance, “Doch wer mag ertragen” (But who may abide) became a bass instead of alto aria, and “Erwach zu Liedern” (Rejoice greatly) was changed to being for tenor from soprano. Much of Handel’s solo trumpet music in “Sie schallt, die Posaun” was re-assigned to a horn by Mozart. 
At one time, and perhaps even today, purists disapprove of the alterations Handel’s Messiah has acquired over its two and half centuries, in particular Mozart’s re-scoring. Nowadays massed forces have largely been abandoned in favour of the twenty to thirty performers that Handel envisaged. Ornaments and improvised embellishments grace many performances. Yet no one can escape the fact that this arrangement is by Mozart nonetheless and that his re-working of Handel’s original coincided with some of his greatest compositions, such as Cosí fan tutte, the last piano concerti and symphonies. Open-minded critics would have to admit that Handel does not suffer from Mozart’s amendments, but that Mozart created a brilliant adaptation fully in the spirit if not the letter of the original. The work still inspires and ‘strikes with thunder’. Even in Mozart’s hand its “fons et origo” is still Handel – however he is dressed. 
(Roderick Swanston)

New Music Concert with Jill Richards

January 30, 2012 7:30 pm -
UJ Theatre, University of Johannesburg -

Jill Richards, piano
João Orecchia, electro-acoustics 


J.S. Bach (1685-1750)
   from Book 1 of the “48 Preludes and Fugues”
     Prelude No. 1 in C Major BWV 846
     Prelude No. 2 in C Minor BWV 847

John Cage (1912-1992)
   Dream (1948)

Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007)
   Klavierstück XI

György Kurtàg (*1926)
   Hommage à Farkas Ferenc (Scraps of a colinda melody – faintly recollected)

Franz Schubert (1797-1828)
   Impromptu no. 1 in C Minor D. 899

Free improvisation with João Orecchia 

Bach & Cage

These works contrast each other while following the improvisation theme. The Bach preludes are effectively written out versions of the harmonies he has chosen, with his genius showing both in the simplicity of Prelude no 1 and the decorative devices in Prelude no 2.   John Cage, in his work “Dream”, allows freedom of pedal and rubato, giving the performer freedom to improvise with colour and speed.

Karlheinz Stockhausen – Klavierstück XI

The composer here presents the performer with a contrast of very strict notation and the freedom as to how these should be performed. The work consists of 19 fragments: the performer looks at the score and chooses the next one at random.  Each fragment has tempo, dynamic and articulation instructions, which dictate how the next one should be played, so that no two performances are ever the same.

Kurtàg & Schubert

The Hungarian composer Kurtàg evokes distant memories by means of spaces, which allow sounds to hover and linger in the air, while the very name “impromptu” implies improvisation. Here Schubert uses variation to suggest this.

Free improvisation with João Orecchia

I will be joined by João Orecchia, the artist and musician who focuses on alternative sound approaches. They will respond to each other using electronic electro-acoustic equipment together with the piano in all its variety of sounds.

(Jill Richards)

Choral Concert with Improvisation

January 31, 2012 7:30 pm -
St. Mary’s School, Waverley -

Shannon Mowday, saxophone
Chanticleer Singers
Richard Cock, conductor


Works by Maurice Duruflé (1902-1986), Thomas Tallis (1505-1585), Kevin Kraak (*1982), Frederick Delius (1862-1934) and W.A. Mozart (1756-1791) will enter into a dialogue with free improvisation on the saxophone. An exciting exchange between the instrument and voice.

Chamber Music Concert

February 1, 2012 7:30 pm -
Northwards House -

Camille Saint-Saëns (1835–1921)
   Fantasy for violin and harp op.124

Paul Hanmer (*1961)
   Mkhize’s 50th

Michael Blake (*1951)
   Leaf Carrying Song (1991; rev. 2002)(transcribed for violin & harp, 2011)

Toshio Hosokawa (*1955)
   Two Pieces

Yasutaka Hemmi (*1971)
   Miminashi Hoichi Fantasy 

Michael Blake
   Ringtones for violin & cellphone

Louis Spohr (1784-1859)
   Potpourri on themes from Mozart’s Magic Flute op.114 

Michio Miyagi (1894-1956)
   Haru no Umi

Takashi Tokunaga (*1973)

Pablo de Sarasate (1844-1908)
   Zigeunerweisen op.20

Camille Saint-Saëns – Fantasy for violin and harp op 124

This is one of the most important pieces of the violin and harp repertoire. French composer Camille Saint-Saëns composed this single movement fantasy in 1907. The work consists of five parts. Saint-Saëns is clever enough to understand and make perfect use of the double-action pedal harp, which was still a new instrument in that period. One of the compositional challenges is the use of the Gregorian mode and the whole tone scale.
(Yasutaka Hemmi)

 Paul Hanmer – Mkhize’s 50th

The writing of this piece started on the day that pianist Themba Mkhize chose to celebrate his 50th birthday- two days ahead of the actual event, as it turns out- on 7 April 2007. The main groove texture for harp was written then, as well as the opening phrases for the violin. The piece was finished in Visby on the island of Gotland in early December 2007. My sincere thanks to Marc Uys for his really persistent but quiet techniques of persuasion.
(Paul Hanmer)

Michael Blake – Leaf Carrying Song 

Leaf Carrying Song is something of a companion piece to the earlier Honey Gathering Song (1989; rev. 1999) for flute and piano. Both belong to my loosely collected African Journal, containing all of the African-inspired music I wrote during the two decades I lived in Europe (1977-1997). South African guitarist Simon Wynberg, now artistic director of ARC in Toronto, wanted a piece he could perform with his oboe (and flute) duo partners on both sides of the Atlantic; he also wanted a piece that exploited the sonority of the 10-string guitar. While I chose the oboe d’amore as the melody instrument for Leaf Carrying Song specifically because of its gentler overall sound and its dark lower register, the piece can be played on the standard oboe as well as the flute, just as the guitar part may be played on a standard 6-string guitar. While the guitar sometimes accompanies, more often than not the instruments are treated as equal participants in the musical narrative. Like a number of my pieces since the early 1990s, this one uses a Stravinskian mosaic type of structure built up from varied interlocking materials; and it has a similarity to the fractured narrative found in the novel and in film, for example.

Pieces with titles like Leaf Carrying Song (or Honey Gathering Song) can be found among the music of the pygmy communities in Central Africa, but while I do make use of African materials and compositional techniques, generally filtered or paraphrased, there is no direct reference to pygmy music in this piece. Although I wrote the work in 1991 it was never performed at the time; in 2002 I revised the work for a possible premiere performance in Canada. The first performance eventually took place on 2 November 2008 in the ZK Matthews Hall, Pretoria, with Kobus Malan (oboe) and Michal George (guitar). Leaf Carrying Song was commissioned by the Arts Council of Great Britain for Simon Wynberg, to whom it is dedicated. While working in Sweden last August, I made this transcription at the request of my good friend Yas Hemmi. The piece lasts about 9 minutes.
(Michael Blake)

Toshio Hosokawa – Two Pieces

Toshio Hosokawa was born in Hiroshima in 1955. He has been introducing Japanese philosophy and sense to the world through his music. In these two short pieces the music is not only audible in the notes but also in the silence.
(Yasutaka Hemmi)

Yasutaka Hemmi – Miminashi Hoichi Fantasy

‘Miminashi Hoichi’ is a tale of a blind biwa player called Hoichi. According to the story, the ghost of a samurai tears off his ears. In this piece one can hear the sound of the biwa, as well as follow the story of ‘Heike Monogatari’ (old story about a war) which traces Hoichi’s feelings and experiences.
(Yasutaka Hemmi)

Michael Blake – Ringtones (2006) for violin & cellphone

The idea of writing a piece for Yasutaka Hemmi originated during a visit he made to Johannesburg in 2005 for a performance of David Young’s Skin Quartet and my String Quartet No 1 on the final stop of a world tour. The concept for the piece originated after that performance during a late night party at The Ant (in Melville, Johannesburg). The musical material is derived in part from the score for Aryan Kaganof’s SMS Sugar Man (the first feature film to be shot entirely on cellphone cameras), and is inspired by Yas’s effortless virtuosity. The ringtone, appropriately used as a ‘leitmotif’ in the movie, is the one that was activated on my cellphone in 2006 (downloadable free at www.michaelblake.co.za). The cellphone conversations are spontaneous. Ringtones lasts about 6 minutes.
(Michael Blake)

Louis Spohr – Potpourri on themes from Mozart’s Magic Flute op.114

The German composer, violinist and conductor Louis Spohr wrote many pieces for violin and harp for himself and his wife. This piece is the second movement from his ‘Sonata Concertante op.114’ and presents a medley from Mozart’s ‘The Magic Flute’. X[iksa] plays this original version for contemporary instruments.
(Yasutaka Hemmi)

Michio Miyagi – Haru no Umi

This piece was composed for shakuhachi and koto by Michio Miyagi. He got inspiration from the Tomonoura beach in spring. One can hear the sounds of the Japanese beach and the sea gulls. In Japanese, Haru means spring and Umi is the sea.
(Yasutaka Hemmi)

Takashi Tokunaga – Funauta

Takashi Tokunaga was born in Hiroshima in 1973. This piece is a variation on a traditional folk song theme from Hiroshima. It consists of seven parts. The traditional Japanese melody is subjected to contemporary techniques.
(Yasutaka Hemmi)

Pablo de Sarasate – Zigeunerweisen op.20

‘Zigeunerweisen’ (Gypsy Airs) was written in 1878 by the Spanish composer and virtuoso violinist Pablo de Sarasate. It is based on melodies of the Roma people, specifically the rhythms of the csárdás. X[iksa] has arranged what was originally an orchestral work as a chamber piece for violin and harp.
(Yasutaka Hemmi)

This concert is endorsed by the Embassy of Japan.

Cinema Improvisando – Live improvisation on Metropolis (1927)

2012-02-02 19:30:00 -
Metropolis -


A film by Fritz Lang (1927)

Metropolis is ruled by the powerful industrialist John Fredersen. He looks out from his office in the Tower of Babel at a modern, highly technicized world. Together with the children of the workers, a young woman named Maria reaches the Eternal Gardens where the sons of the city’s elite amuse themselves and where she meets Freder, John Fredersen’s son. When the young man later goes on a search for the girl, he witnesses an explosion in a machine hall, where numerous workers lose their lives. He then realizes that the luxury of the upper class is based on the exploitation of the proletariat. In the Catacombs under the Workers’ City Freder finally finds Maria, who gives the workers hope with her prophecies for a better future. His father also knows about Maria’s influence on the proletariat and fears for his power. In the house of the inventor Rotwang, John Fredersen learns about his experiments to create a cyborg based on the likeness of Hel, their mutual love and Freder’s mother. Fredersen orders Rotwang to give Maria’s face to the robot in order to send it to the underground city to deceive and stir up its inhabitants.

After the robot Maria has succeeded, a catastrophe ensues. The riotous workers destroy the Heart Machine and as a result the Workers’ City, where only the children have remained, is tremendously flooded. The real Maria brings the children to safety along with Freder. When they learn about the disaster, the rebelling masses stop. Their rage is now aimed at the robot Maria, who is captured and burned at the stake. At the same time Rotwang, driven by madness, pursues the genuine Maria across the Cathedral’s rooftop, where he ultimately falls to his death. Freder and Maria find each other again. The son devotes himself to his father, mediating between him and the workers. As a consequence, Maria’s prophecy of reconciliation between the ruler and those who are mastered (head and hands) triumphs – through the help of the mediating heart.

Workshop Concert for Children

February 3, 2012 8:00 am -
Parktown High School for Girls -

The Johannesburg International Mozart Festival is dedicated to introducing classical music to as wide an audience as possible. We would like to share our passion for music and music-making at an exploration concert at Parktown School for Girls.

The works of W.A. Mozart will be looked at from two perspectives: the classical and jazz.

The children will not only be learning about the great Austrian composer and his music, but will also discover how very innovative, daring and still prevailing some of Mozart’s works are.