Grahamstown talent comes together for final concert

PRISCILLA HALL The final concert of the Grahamstown Music Society's 2011 series, on Tuesday 18 October, is an entirely French programme of chamber music from Paris, played by Grahamstown's own musical heroes.

Ravel's exquisite String Quartet, one of the most beautiful string quartets ever written, will be performed by Juan Munoz (violin), Duncan Samson (violin), Nick Fidler (viola) and Cameron Cordell (cello). Ravel composed this work at the age of 28, as his final submission for the Prix de Rome and the Paris Conservatory and dedicated the work to his friend and teacher, Gabriel Faure.

The work met with great criticism and was rejected, resulting in Ravel's leaving the Paris Conservatory. The public supported Ravel and Debussy wrote to him "in the name of the gods" not to touch "a single note". Today, it is one of the most widely performed quartets. The rarely heard SaintSaens Septet will be performed next, as Tim Abel (viola), Mariel Ilusorio (piano), Dorothy Holder (double bass), and Johan Pretorius (trumpet) join the group. Saint-Saens was commissioned to compose a work for this unusual combination of instruments by a music society in Paris called "La Trompete".

He initially joked about the request that he would first have to write a composition for guitar and 13 trombones. The work uses classical forms, combined with Baroque dances. The Cesar Franck Piano Quintet ends the programme. After the light music of SaintSaens, Franck's piano quintet is an emotionally intense and dramatic work which was also met with some objections. Franck had primarily written religious music, and this work contradicted the image he had with the public.

It is said that the work was inspired by his obsession with his young student Augusta Holmes and contains such heavy emotional (even sexual) expression that his wife could not stand listening to the piece. Saint-Saens premiered the work and walked out of the performance disgusted, leaving the music behind on the piano. Today, the Franck Quintet is one of the staples of chamber music of the Romantic period.

The chamber music ensemble that has prepared this unique programme is a combination of students of Rhodes University, and lecturers and music teachers from the Rhodes Music Department and St Andrew's College and DSG. It is a unique collaboration that aims to achieve the highest possible level by using only local resources, a purely Grahamstonian achievement. The venue is St Andrew's Drill Hall, off Worcester Street. Tickets at R80 (R60 pensioners, R40 tertiary students) are available from 7pm, for the concert starting at 7.30pm. Schoolgoers in uniform and members of the Society are admitted free.

GROCOTT`S MAIL 11 Oct 2011, Page: 6