CELEBRATED concert pianist, Christopher Duigan, will be returning to Franschhoek in May to delight classical music fans with a series of concerts at the NG Church, Franschhoek and Cafe Bon Bon.
He will joined by guitarist, James Grace, Tango Ensemble players Stanislav Angelov (accordion) and Petrus de Beer (violin) and the exciting new Juliet Quartet for the concerts which form part of the Franschhoek Literary Festival.
The Pietermaritzburg-based pianist is especially looking forward to playing the music of Frédéric Chopin, following a visit to the composer’s homeland, Poland, last year during which he explored the Chopin Museum.
Asked what he loved about playing Chopin’s music, Duigan said: “In the many years that I have played for audiences, many of them new, I’ve found Chopin’s music to have a unique ability in having an immediate and powerful response.
“Chopin’s music speaks so directly to the heart. It is a result of a very sincere personal expression at the piano, from one individual to another. It is also perfectly crafted, covers an extraordinary range of very succinctly presented emotions and ideas, and always seems perfectly natural. It’s also quite sensual.”
Duigan, who is a Steinway artist, said his trip to Warsaw had been hugely educational, adding: “I was amazed at how the Polish people have embraced the composer as national icon.
“From landing at the Fryderyk Chopin International Airport in Warsaw to the state of the art Chopin Museum, which is obviously highly funded, to the numerous monuments, plaques and detailed information offered as to where he played and lived in old Warsaw.
“When I was there, we encountered organised stages with pianists playing his music on magnificent grand pianos, from morning to night, in several squares around the city.”
For his concert, The Genius of Chopin, on Saturday, May at 11.30 am, Duigan will play Chopin’s including the Ballade No 3, Waltzes, Nocturnes and Scherzo No.1.
The pianist has been a regular visitor to Franschhoek Literary Festival for many years and says he loves “the unique, considered atmosphere of the village, the fine restaurants and unashamedly sophisticated environment .”
Duigan adds: “The audiences are always very welcoming and warm. While maybe I have cultivated something of that over the years, it seems to be a very conducive environment for artists and audience to experience something special together.”
Sadly, however, he seldom gets to enjoy any of the other events. “As pianist and producer I’m usually running from one concert to another, rehearsing, entertaining guests and musicians, or just catching up with my hosts there, David and Michelle Walters.
“I always enjoy seeing and being with them and that’s an important part of the Franschhoek experience for me too.
NEED TO KNOW
CHRISTOPHER Duigan’s Autumn Music Weekend in Franschhoek runs from Friday, May 13 to Sunday, May 15 at the NG Church, Franschhoek and Cafe Bon Bon.
- Friday, May 15 at 7 pm, NG Church: Highly Strung: Guitar and Piano Duo – guitarist James Grace joins Christopher Duigan in a popular selection of favourites from this exciting and innovative duo’s repertoire – classical, jazz, pop and standards. Tickets R100 at www.webtickets.co.za and at the door. Performance time 60 to 70 minutes.
- Saturday, May 16 at 11.30 am, NG Church: The Genius of Chopin – Christopher Duigan plays piano music by Frederic Chopin including the Ballade No 3, Waltzes, Nocturnes and Scherzo No.1. Tickets R100 at www.webtickets.co.za and at the door. Performance time 60 to 70 minutes.
- Saturday, May 16, 7 pm, Café Bon Bon at La Petite Dauphine: Candlelight Soiree – Christopher Duigan repeats his Chopin selection along music by Liszt and Debussy. Experience a sublime evening of Romantic piano music in a magnificent setting. Tickets R550, which includes a three-course meal. Booking: Café Bon Bon at 021 876 3936.
- Sunday, May 17 at 11.30 am, NG Church: Mozart and Beethoven with the Juliet String Quartet – the exciting new Juliet Quartet play Beethoven’s String Quartet Op 18 and Mozart’s Pianos Concerto in A K.414 with Christopher Duigan (piano). Tickets R100 at www.webtickets.co.za and at the door. Performance time 60 to 70 minutes.
- Sunday, May 17 at 1 pm, Café Bon Bon at La Petite Dauphine: Tango Del Fuego – Cape Town Tango Ensemble players Stanislav Angelov (accordion) and Petrus de Beer (violin) join Christopher Duigan in a spirited tango music performance. Tickets R500 which includes a three-course meal. Bookings: Café Bon Bon at 021 876 3936.The Autumn Music Weekend in Franschhoek is kindly supported by Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos.