The Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra delivered a world series of a performance. 

THE JOHANNESBURG Phil-harmonic Orchestra (JPO) launched the Summer Season of their World Symphony Series at the Linder Auditorium on Wednesday, February 20.

The series was led by Russian conductor, Victor Yampolsky, and featured a 78-piece orchestra consisting of the violin, viola, cello, double bass, flute, oboe, clarinet, harp, trumpet and French horn, among others.

The series kicked off with Czech composer Antonin Dvorak’s Carnival Overture which takes the listener through a carnival experience. The overture starts off with a sharp and joyful note that is as joyous as a carnival.

However, this joy is quickly interrupted by the dramatic undertones introduced through the symbols, and then again takes a peaceful and romantic turn through the string instruments; a rollercoaster for the three-quarter filled auditorium comprising of an elderly audience.

JPO chief executive officer and artistic director Bongani Tembe said that there was no specific theme to the series, and that the selection of the overtures was made on the basis of great music.

“Our mission is to educate, entertain and inspire. We do direct education through out-reach programme, but we also introduce new pieces including South African pieces to a mature audience. We entertain in the literal sense. And we inspire excellence through execution. Seventy-eight people pulling together for one purpose, for the greater good is inspirational, the orchestra does that,” Tembe told Wits Vuvuzela.

Viennese and Hollywood film composer Erich Wolfgang Korngold’s Violin Concerto in D major performed with the orchestra’s accompaniment by German violinist Alexander Gilman, couldn’t be more fitting as the next installation to the evening.

Gilman gave a beautiful performance that gripped the audience as one could feel the stillness from the audience as the violinist transported one to Hollywood. The trumpets mirrored a Hollywood film intro, and were present throughout.

The main act, which was Gilman’s performance, was delivered with a lot of passion. The deep breaths before soul-striking notes and reaching to his toes at the sound of the highest notes, as well as the flow with which Gilman played, made the violin appear as though it was a physical part of himself.

The passionate performance took one through romantic, dramatic and fast-paced tunes that left Gilman’s bow hairs sticking out, as though experiencing every Hollywood genre one could think of, ending with the crowd clapping endlessly, shouting ‘Bravo!’

Gilman told Wits Vuvuzela that he believes in all of Korngold’s pieces, especially his violin concerto where the influence of Hollywood is very much heard and felt.

“From the very beginning with the opening of this piece, it’s so peaceful. It’s like a bird starts flying and there are these beautiful harmonies you only hear in the Hollywood film industry, and this is what I think makes this violin concerto so emotional.

“The most emotional music is really Hollywood music. The composers in Hollywood really know how to get to our emotions, how to get under our skin. If you look at any movie, any action, any love movie, any thriller, it would be nothing without the music,” the 36-year-old said.

Attendee of the show, Zara Julius, told Wits Vuvuzela that the performance was great, and that it took her back to a time when she was playing in school orchestras herself.
“It was beautiful. It was nice. It also opened my mind up to Tchaikovsky,” Julius said.

The evening ended with a standing ovation from the audience. The next concerts in the World Series Symphony will take place on February 27-28 at the Linder Auditorium on the Wits Education Campus.

FEATURED IMAGE: The music of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra took audience members around the world. Photo: Provided