South Africa: And the Orchestras Played On - JHB/KZN Philharmonic CEO Confident Summer Season Will Go Ahead

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Durban and Johannesburg's major orchestras say they're bucking the trends of an arts industry harshly disrupted by Covid-19.

According to the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) and KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZN Phil), a mammoth R2-million in ticket sales were "forfeited" through their cancelled winter season.

Nonetheless, CEO and artistic director Bongani Tembe told Daily Maverick that the orchestras' models have allowed for staff compensation. Describing himself as an "eternal optimist", the long-time classical music entrepreneur insists there "should" be "enough" in the kitty to "carry the orchestras into the next financial year".

If this proves the case, it would be a welcome success story while some of the industry's most established players are wondering if they'll make it through the coming weeks.

In terms of staying power, Tembe has a sturdy concertmaster in Miroslav Chakaryan, a Bulgarian-born violinist from a musical family who has led the JPO since 2001.

Chakaryan has called on one of his greatest career lessons to see himself through the global shutdown.

"I've learnt the importance of staying in one place for a long time," he said. "The memories of my performances have been a constant companion to me during the lockdown."

For him, classical music presents...

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