Nairobi Orchestra opens new season with weekend concerts

A vital part of the classical music scene in Kenya, the Nairobi Orchestra is opening its 2015/2016 season this Saturday 7 and Sunday 8 November at the Braeburn Theatre in Nairobi.

The Nairobi Orchestra in action. Photo: Facebook
The Nairobi Orchestra in action. Photo: Facebook

Several new works have been added to the orchestra's repertoire for the upcoming performances. Vaughan Williams’ 'A London Symphony' will provide an opportunity for concert-goers to experience a full orchestra, including harp and contrabassoon. This repertoire will paint a picture through music of the city of London as it was in the early 1900s. 

Sam Brown, a young musician whose performances in the UK and abroad have been noted for their flair and intensity, will be performing Rodrigo's 'Concierto de Aranjuez' for guitar with the Nairobi Orchestra. Rodrigo’s beautiful 'Concierto de Aranjuez', besides being a new work for the Nairobi Orchestra, will also mark the first time that the orchestra will feature the guitar as a solo instrument. Among the other works expected to be performed this weekend is Schumann's 'Manfred Overture'. 

UK conductor Steve Dummer will for the third time make a stop in Nairobi to conduct the orchestra. In June 2014, Dummer conducted the encore of 'the Cancan' from Orpheus in the Underworld. Regular attendants of the Nairobi concerts have come to love Dummer’s enthusiasm, encouragement and energy, which have become his mark of conducting and also the means by which he draws more musicality out of the audience.

The Nairobi Orchestra will use this opportunity to showcase its latest musical instrument acquisition – a set of pedal timpani, with the opening lines of Strauss’ 'Also Sprach Zarathustra', best known for its use in the 1968 science fiction classic 2001: A Space Odyssey. Pedal timpani (sometimes referred to as kettle drums) are a type of drum consisting of a skin (called a head) stretched over a large bowl traditionally made of copper. They are played by striking the head with a specialized drumstick called a timpani stick or timpani mallet. Timpani evolved from military drums to become a staple of the classical orchestra by the last third of the 18th century.

The Nairobi Orchestra was founded in 1947 by Italian prisoners of war after World War II. There was a short break in playing during the 1950s before the orchestra made a comeback in the 1960s. Since then, the orchestra has performed every year, playing three orchestral concerts a year where possible and a few more in collaboration with other groups. They last performed at the Braeburn Theatre on 20 and 21 June this year. 

The performance this Saturday will begin at 7pm and on Sunday at 3pm. The Braeburn Theatre is located on Gitanga Road in Lavington, Nairobi. For more details visit the orchestra’s Facebook page.


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