2010 – the eagerly awaited year in which South Africa hosted the Football World Championship – saw people from all “corners” of the world flock to the southern tip of Africa for this global sports event. Soccer aficionados from all “hemispheres” enjoyed the games, the beauty of South Africa’s landscapes and the hospitality of its people. Following the 2009 highly successful premiere of the Johannesburg Mozart Festival as an international event, it was our “goal” to “score” a similar success in 2010 and to reflect on the idea of “hemispheres” and visitors to South Africa in musical terms.
2010 brought about two new developments for the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival. Running from 23 January to 9 February, we went into “extra time” as the number of concerts literally doubled to 16, compared to the 8 concerts we offered in 2009. The other significant “substitute” included a departure from a pure Mozart focus towards a more “forward” concept. While Mozart has been and will always remain a motif going through the majority of concert programmes, the Festival is set to explore Mozart’s genius and ingenuity in a wider sense, creating a setting in which Mozart’s multi-faceted persona will unfold by way of inspiration and discourse.
We were delighted to welcome to the Festival an array of outstanding international and South African artists. Maestro Thomas Sanderling conducted the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra with a rare performance of Friedrich Helmut Hartmann’s Song of the Four Winds – a spectacular work for big romantic orchestra and two vocal soloists by a composer who left Nazi Austria in the 1930s and emigrated to South Africa where he taught a whole generation of young composers. The German singer Dietrich Henschel, who has been making a worldwide career as an opera and lied singer, working with Sir Simon Rattle, Zubin Mehta and Christoph Eschenbach, amongst others, performed the baritone part. The other vocal soloist was the young South African mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Frandsen. Danish clarinettist Lone Madsen was the soloist in Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto, marking the opening concert of the Festival. With musical partners such as Alfred Brendel and Andrea Bocelli we were privileged to hear her in her South African debut. The highly acclaimed young violinist Lidia Baich, herself no stranger to South African audiences, having also worked with Andrea Bocelli as well as Lorin Maazel and Vladimir Fedoseyev, appeared in a concert under the theme of “Rock me, Amadeus”, that was one of the special surprises of 2010 Festival!
Not only international soloists, but orchestras, too, graced the stage in Johannesburg. The London-based Imperial College Symphony Orchestra and its Music Director Richard Dickins performed two concerts at the Linder Auditorium, including Rachmaninov’s epic Symphony No. 2. Other orchestral specials included Dvořák’s Symphony No. 9 (“From the New World”) with the sparkling Johannesburg Festival Orchestra under its charismatic Music Director Richard Cock.
We were also very pleased to welcome back in 2010 the outstanding Johannesburg-based pianist Malcolm Nay, the eminent piano duo Nina Schumann & Luis Magalhaes, as well as the popular Chanticleer Singers and the Melodi Music Ensemble and its director, Nimrod Moloto, marking a long-term collaboration and support scheme under the auspices of the Apollo Music Trust.
And this just set the ball rolling…