Cape Town Philharmonic 2019 Winter Season premiered at City Hall Concert Hall last night. The talented musicians didn’t disappoint! I sat in the upper bays – a great location for watching the orchestra in action. Over the years, I’ve seen the orchestra perform from various vantage points in the Concert Hall. One vivid memory is sitting in the high balcony during a storm listening to the sound of rain on the glass dome while the orchestra performed below.
Robert Moody, American guest conductor, made his Cape Town debut at the concert. Moody is Music Director of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and the Arizona Musicfest.
The program included three captivating compositions:
- My Homeland Op. 62 – Antonín Leopold Dvořák Composer
- Concerto for Piano & Orchestra Op. 38 – Samuel Barber Composer, Bryan Wallick Soloist
- Symphony No. 4 in F Minor Op. 36 – Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky Composer
“Samuel Barber had the gift of writing sustained melodies that flow easily and have a high degree of expressiveness.”
Robert Moody Conductor
In addition to positions with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra and at the Arizona Musicfest, Moody has been associate conductor, resident conductor, and music director of symphony orchestras all over the world. He’s “equally at home in the opera pit, with pops, and at chamber music and choral concerts”. Moody conducts without a baton, and his intense interaction with the orchestra is impressive.
Moody began his career as an “apprentice conductor for the Landestheater Opera in Linz Austria”. In 2018 he “completed an eleven-year tenure as Music Director for the Portland Symphony in Maine and a thirteen-year tenure as Music Director of the Winston-Salem Symphony in North Carolina”.
“Antonín Dvořák was the first Czech composer to achieve worldwide recognition. He lived a rich musical childhood in Prague.”
Moody is a “champion” of Mason Bates, Composer in Residence with the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. He “commissioned / conducted Bates’ first full orchestral composition”. Moody has recorded CDs, collaborated with other artists, and participated in concerts to “aid the fight against multiple myeloma“.
Bryan Wallick Pianist
Bryan Wallick “gained recognition as a great American virtuoso pianist of his generation”. He was gold medalist of the 1997 Vladimir Horowitz International Piano Competition in Kiev.
He “plays regularly in the US, Europe, and South Africa”. Wallick studied at the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Juilliard School of Music New York, and Royal Academy of Music London. A “noted chamber musician, he’s performed at Carnegie Hall and Wigmore Hall in London”.
Wallick has lived in South Africa for twelve years with his South African wife and their three children. With “mixed feelings,” he’ll soon return to the US.
In 2015 Wallick created Schalk Visser and Bryan Wallick Concert Promotions. He “performs with many of his artists in recitals throughout South Africa”. The audience loved his flawless performance of Barber’s Piano Concerto!
“In Middle Europe, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4 sometimes receives the nickname Fatum or Fate.”
My Homeland Czech Composer Antonin Dvorak – a favorite composer of mine, Dvorak’s sonata My Homeland has two song themes. The overture was written for a patriotic play “depicting the beginnings of Czech theatre”. The folk melody became Czechoslovakia’s national anthem.
Concerto for Piano and Orchestra Op. 38 American Composer Samuel Barber – Barber’s concerto is an exciting, complex composition in three movements. Moody aptly described it as “a bit mischievous”. A New York publishing house commissioned Barber to write the piece – his first concerto. The composition premiered at Lincoln Center in 1962. In 1963, Barber won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his concerto.
Symphony No. 4 in F Minor Op. 36 Russian Composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky – the composition is sometimes described as a “reflection of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony”. The dramatic movements vacillate from powerful bursts of brass to soft strings, a “plaintive oboe theme,” and delicate woodwinds.
Cape Town Philharmonic is dear to my heart. I was especially happy to hear an Antonín Dvořák composition during this memorable evening! Tchaikovsky and Barber were icing on the cake.