Skip links

‘Never waste a crisis’ | A Q&A with Bongani Tembe on the JPO Virtual Spring Symphony Season

CF: What are some of the biggest changes that come about as a result of a symphony season taking place virtually?
BT: The most obvious one is that since the beginning of the lockdown, we weren’t able to meet physically, so we couldn’t perform or even rehearse. One of my favourite expressions is ‘never waste a crisis’ which means that we can all learn from a crisis or from difficult times. We’ve become more innovative – just like Creative Feel has had to do – and started doing things like recording music virtually with each musician sitting in their own home. You start to reimagine what a concert looks like or what a live performance looks like. We’ve had to become more innovative, creative, and experimental and embrace the positive side of these restrictions.

Bongani Tembe Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra KZN KwaZulu-Natal

CF: Do you think you’re reaching a wider audience online?
BT: Another one of these positive changes is reaching audiences differently and more widely. The symphony concerts are available at the click of a button, it’s classical music at your fingertips so to say. People don’t have to travel to venues late at night and all of those other concerns of physical performances. You can just watch a symphony concert at whatever time is most convenient for you, from the comfort of your own home. You can also gather the family around – perhaps you normally wouldn’t bring your kids along, but now they can watch too, and hopefully they can get hooked on Mozart or something like that! We’re excited about the possibility of reaching new audiences. It’s definitely one of the positive sides of this whole situation.

CF: The Virtual Spring Symphony Season features a number of exciting programmes. What are a few of the highlights audiences can look forward to?
BT: We’ve been off to a great start so far with the conductor Brandon Phillips and Zanta Hofmeyr the violinist who did a beautiful performance of Beethoven’s Romance No.2 as well as Mozart’s symphony No. 40. Then we’ve got Brandon Phillips again with the pianist Megan-Geoffrey Prins who will do the Mozart piano concerto No. 23 and the Prokofiev Symphony No. 1. Concert 3 is led by Lykele Temmingh who is the resident conductor of the KZNPO. He’s going to team up with Francois du Toit, one of my favourite pianists from Cape Town and it’s going to be an all-Beethoven concert as we’re celebrating the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. Then the last week of the season is the young conductor Schalk van der Merwe with soloist Khanyisile Mthetwa, principle flutist of the JPO and Gaylan Sales on harp. Together they’ll do Mozart’s flute and harp concerto. So, it really is a blockbuster programme with many favourites.

If you’re looking to buy tickets for the Virtual Spring Symphony Season, head to any Computicket outlets or visit Computicket online. Concerts are launched at 19:30 each Wednesday for the duration of the season, and are available for 48 hours after purchasing your ticket.

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website.