THE sound of music could be heard through the hallways of Grey Junior School yesterday as about 150 young musicians from around the Eastern Cape rehearsed for a festival concert taking place at the Feather Market Centre on Sunday at 3pm.
The concert hosted by the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (ECPO) will be conducted by Gerben Grooten and John Rojas and includes two newly commissioned works by Cape Town composer Grant McLachlan.
Grooten, conducting the orchestra for his second consecutive year, said he was really impressed at the standard of music the province had to offer.
"People in this area really don't know their potential. I love working with these kids – it's amazing. This year when teaching the musicians, I focused more on togetherness. These days, children don't listen. They hear but they are not listening. But with art and music, you need to listen.
"All of the musicians here know how to play music. I'm interested in teaching them how to play together. It's not just about the music but in the values we instill in the children," he said.
"I give credit to all the music teachers who work so hard to get students to this level. I think the talent people will get to see on Sunday, rates among the best in the country.
"I see passion and skill in these children that make me happy to be part of an organisation like this," he said.
The Youth Orchestra's programme, conducted by Grooten, includes something for everyone – March and Waltz of the Flowers from Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite; the third movement of Mahler's Symphony No 1; and a suite from Lord of the Rings, in addition to Grant McLachlan's City Slickers Suite.
ECPO manager Gill Barnett said the documentary City Slickers was produced for the Discovery channel – telling the story of two African penguins.
"It's a wonderfully moving story. The beautiful music from the documentary seemed to be a fitting piece for the orchestra, given Port Elizabeth's reputation as a penguin-loving city. McLachlan turned the original chamber music into a work for full orchestra, vividly depicting the penguins swimming through the ocean, and venturing onto land at night," she said.
The Youth Wind Band programme, conducted by Rojas, includes works by wind band composers David Shaffer and Jan van der Roost, and John Warrington's Original Dixieland Concerto, subtitled "One of the real Dixieland classics for concert band".
McLachlan's composition for the wind band is African Surprise which features bird songs at dawn interrupted by a trumpeting elephant.
The concert forms part of the annual Youth Orchestral Experience – where teenagers from all areas of the Eastern Cape get an opportunity to showcase their talents under the guidance of some of the best youth conductors and teachers in the country.
Tickets for the festival concert can be purchased at the Feather Market box office before the concert on Sunday.
Seating is unreserved and tickets are R25 for adults and R15 for pupils and students.
ýFor further information, contact Barnett on (041)581-7747.