“Se vuol ballare, Signor Contino? – If you would dance, my little Count?”. This is what Figaro asks, somewhat belligerently, in his famous cavatina from Mozart’s opera The Marriage of Figaro.
Translating Mozart’s creative spirit and constantly initiating new ideas, the 2013 Johannesburg International Mozart Festival picks up on the dance theme, and presents various concerts that fuse music and movement.
A number of choreography concerts take place at this year’s Festival, probing the art of improvisation through combined explorations of music and dance. On Wednesday 30 January, Bach Solo cello suites embedded in free improvisations will be accompanied by dance choreography, with Erich Oskar Huetter (cello) and Tanima (dance). Supported by the Austrian Embassy, in collaboration with MIAGI, this concert takes place at The Fringe, Johannesburg Theatre, at 20:00.
On Thursday 7 and Friday 8 February at 19:30, the Wits Art Museum will host two unique examinations of this theme. “Moving Mozart” will see acclaimed South African dancers Mamela Nyamza and Kirsty Ndawo on stage with Andreas Kern (piano); performing to the works of Mozart, Schumann and Eggert. The rhythmic force of percussion meets dance when Duo FourIVTwo (marimba and vibraphone) share the stage with Thabo Rapoo from Tshwane Dance Theatre, the following day.
On Monday 4 February, internationally acclaimed violinist, broadcaster, conductor, speaker, educator and writer Ruth Waterman will discuss, illustrate and dance aspects of J. S. Bach’s Partita no.3 in E major BWV1006 for solo violin. Taking the audience “behind the notes” into the world of the interpreter in an illuminating exploration followed by a concert performance, Waterman will pull out all the stops by attempting to dance the minuet, as well as playing an unusual sarabande on the piano. She will also show how Bach chose to recreate the prelude in a glittering version for full orchestra.
“Our reverence for Bach and his enormous output of religious music can lead us to forget that he delighted in writing dance music – not exactly music for the dance-hall, but almost. Learning how to dance Baroque dances when I was young greatly affected how I eventually came to understand, and perform, the partitas. The poise and lightness of the steps forced me to reconsider the underlying rhythmic quality, as well as my bowing style. And knowing the relative tempos of the various dances allowed me to gauge the pacing of each partita as a whole,” said Waterman.
Waterman will also present her book “When Swan Lake Comes to Sarajevo”, selected as a “book-of-the-year” in 2012 by the UK Observer; at an event on Sunday 3 February hosted by the British Council. A multi-layered account of her journey into the aftermath of war as she returns year after year to guest-conduct the multi-ethnic Mostar Sinfonietta; the narrative starts in 2002 and describes the frustrations and absurdities and delights of daily life in this “strange peace”, of rehearsing in leaking auditoriums, pressed for time as well as for musicians, while trying to understand the larger issues that underlie everything in this broken society. Her writing opens up not only the world of Bosnia, and its struggle to rebuild itself and its communities; and the world of musicians – how they communicate with each other and how they learn to inhabit the music, physically and psychologically.
The rest of the JIMF programme will again include various symphony concerts and recitals. The final programme is available on www.join-mozart-festival.org.
Tickets for the 5th Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF) will be available from Computicket for concerts at the Linder Auditorium. Tickets for concerts at Northwards House, Villa Arcadia, St. Columba’s Church, and the Wits Art Museum can be booked by phoning the JIMF Office on (011) 447 9264; and for concerts at The Fringe at the Joburg Theatre, (011) 877 6832. For any further enquiries please contact (011) 447 9264 or visit www.join-mozart-festival.org. Join the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival page on Facebook for regular updates on Festival happenings and competitions.