The final concert of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival had two standing ovations, featured a conductor without music, and was one of the best musical concerts I have ever attended. The music spanned centuries - 229 years between the oldest and the most recent in fact.
The concert started with a slight re-arrangement of the line-up, and featured the chamber work Peter Klatzow - Lightscapes for Marimba and Five Instruments. It's a compact piece, and was performed against the backdrop of projections of various images. For me, the second batch featuring the sun and Egyptian relics achieved the harmony of images to the music - while I thought the rest didn't really work. Peter Klatzow has an earlier version on SoundCloud.
The second performance was short - but it's the concept and the performance itself that brought a standing ovation from the audience. Misconduct, conceptualised by performance artist Anthea Moys, is a combination of dance and orchestra - although not necessarily in the way you would normally imagine it. In the first half, the conductor conducts a piece of music - but there is no music from the orchestra - and there is no music - instead, the dance group - Moving into Dance Mophatong - dances on the cues of the conductor. We are told at the beginning - that only the conductor, the orchestra and Anthea Moys herself knows what the music is - the dancers haven't heard it or practised using it - they performed spontaneously. In the second half, the piece is conducted again - this time, the orchestra does play (Mozart's Overture from the Marriage of Figaro) and the dancers now dance to the music itself. The similarities in the performance - and the differences are startling - their performance itself is amazing. It is strange, exhilarating, special and a wonderful performance all round - thoroughly deserving of the standing ovation.
The second half started off with the debut of the newly commissioned piece by Peter Klatzow - All People Become Spirit People When They Die; comprising of Choir, Piano and Orchestra. Based on a poem by Stephen Watson about the San - particularly their beliefs relating to the afterlife. It's an interesting piece - sometimes sad, and a bit like a requiem - but I am not completely sure what to make of it.
The final piece, also for Choir, Piano and Orchestra was Beethoven's Choral Fantasy. I love Beethoven's music, and this had it all - great piano (performed by Florian Uhlig), great orchestral movements and then the choir that caps it off at the end. As the programme notes, it's a forerunner to the 9th and it packs it all in. It was an amazing performance, and a perfect ending to an amazing concert.