Orchestra Highlights > University of Pretoria
UP Symphony Orchestra
The Orchestra, as academic institution, provides a platform for the
Department’s finest soloists, instrumentalists, singers, students and
professionals, training them to face the industry head-on. The main
purpose of this Orchestra is to provide students (outsiders are also
welcome if they can be accommodated) with the invaluable
knowledge and experience of symphonic and ensemble playing.
Whether these young musicians eventually become professional
performers and teachers or not, is irrelevant. What is so vitally
important is that they have all become so much richer people. This
is a result of what they have learned about teamwork, discipline and
respect, through their association with this unique area of artistic creativity provided by some of the world’s
most important and beautiful music. Each year, at least 12 months in advance, a carefully-constructed program is put together, attempting to
include as wide a variety of styles possible from the grandiose symphonic repertoire. For example, the first
production of the year should be immediately appealing to the players and audience alike, to “kick-off” in
high spirits. Programs to follow should include at least one major symphony, one major classical work, a
concerto festival and other festival presentations, a modern work, an opera or large-scale choral work, light
music or symphonic pops, plus a concert tour.
As a short reference to the success which the Orchestra has grown accustomed to over the years, a few
highlights are noteworthy.
In 2006: Little Karoo National Arts Festival (KKNK) in April, Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana in August,
Aardklop Arts festival in September and concerts with international soloist Stef Bos in October.
In 2007: KKNK in Oudtshoorn (April) and Aardklop in Potchefstroom (September) and a concert series
with Nataniël and band in October.
In 2008, the Orchestra had many concerts as part of the University’s Centenary Celebrations. In March, a
Romantic Russian programme was successfully performed for the UP Bookjol, including
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no.5. A wonderful programme of favourites, A Hundred Years of Hot Hits:
1908-2008, was received with adoration in May. The highlight of the year, however, was
Mendelssohn’s Symphony no.2 (Lobgesang) for Soloists, Choir, Orchestra and Organ, performed at the
Principal’s Concert and a concert open to the general public. The year was ended on the appropriate high
note with Amanda Strydom in concert with the UPSO in October in the Aula.
In 2009 the Orchestra again thrilled its audiences with masterpieces from the symphonic repertoire. In
March, a concert series entitled “Revitalized Russian Rendezvous” was on stage, including the
beautiful Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture by Tchaikovsky, the enchanting Distant Princess (Tcherepnin)
and the ever-exciting Capriccio Espagnole (Rimsky-Korsakov). Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto no.1 was
also on the pogramme with the international soloist Brian Wallick. April and May welcomed the “Stunning
Symphony Suites”. The programme included the notorious Saber Dancefrom Khachaturian’s Gayaneh
Suite no.3, as well as the South African debut of Astor Piazzolla’sTango Suite for Alto Saxophone and
Orchestra, with Matthew Lombard as soloist. Further events included the Santa Cecilia Mass by Charles
Gounod, Beethoven’s Symphony no.5 and concerts with Laurika Rauch.
2010 saw programming of epic proportions. Playing to mostly sold-out houses, the Orchestra masterfully
performed the likes of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony no.6 (Pathetique) and Lizst’s Totentanzwith Charl du
Plessis at the piano. This concert was followed by a festival of rhapsodies by Chabrier, Alfvén and Enesco.
Liszt’s Rhapsody on Hungarian Folk Melodies was also performed by Frants Preis. Beethoven’s Triple
Concerto for violin, cello and piano, a premier of Pieter Bezuidenhout’sConcertino for Piano and
Orchestra, John Simon’s Dance to Freedom and Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody no.2 all collided in a moot
point representing the diversity of South Africa, and ultimately of the University, making up the prestigious
Principal’s Concert for 2010. Following shortly was the annual concerto festival where soloists from the
Orchestra were showcased. To end off a successful year, the ‘true’ story of Swan Lake was brought to life
in Nataniël’s highly acclaimedSwanemeer supported by the PianoMan himself, Charl du Plessis playing the
evergreen Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin. The theme for the year was Ravel’s notorious Bolero, which
could be heard at numerous different concerts.
2011 started off with a highly successful programme consisting of Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony,
talented child prodigy Emmanuel Bach’s rendition of Bruch’s Scottish Fantasy and a suite of music from
the motion picture, Braveheart. In the second programme, “A Vivid Visit to Vienna,” the orchestra
performed with brilliance the music of 18th and 19th century Viennese composers. From the Tritsch
Tratsch and Thunder and Lightning Polkas to the Radetzky March andEmperor Waltz, adding a touch of
Mozart, this programme created a fun, fresh and lively concert experience for audiences. The programme
featured at the KKNK as well. As with every year the orchestra performs with celebrity musicians. In this
year the orchestra collaborated with the acclaimed guitar duo CH2. The year was concluded with the
orchestra’s annual concerto festival. A highly successful concert with members of the orchestra appearing
as soloists, performing from well known works by Bruch and Dvoøák to the premiere of one of the soloist’s
2012 kicked off with Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf along with Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals to
loud applause from both adults and school children alike. This programme was presented at the KKNK on
the orchestra’s sixth tour to the festival. The colossal music of The Planets by Gustav Holst along with the
famous musical themes by John Williams which he wrote for the motion pictures, Star Wars was performed
with a multi-media presentation of The Planets. The orchestra rocked to the legendary music of Queen
alongside the musical celebrity, Joseph Clark. The year was ended with a concerto festival with soloists
from the orchestra who played music by amongst Mozart, Haydn, Crusell, Popper as well as sung an Aria Il
Mundo by Sbricolli.