Skip to main content
All Posts By

US Music

Wesley de Villiers

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Wesley de Villiers started playing the recorder at age 6 in the church orchestra and at age 10, started learning the organ and piano. He attended Wynberg High where he took music as a subject. In 2012, he enrolled as a student of the Certificate Programme, where he was recipient of the Karin Maritz Music Award. In 2014, he attended the satellite campus at the Youngsfield Army base, where he studied music theory under Cheryl George and continued horn studies with Sean Kierman, completing his Grade 7 Unisa theory exam and Grade 8 Horn exam with merit.

He has been an active player in a number of ensembles including the South African National Youth Wind and Symphonic Orchestras, South African National Defence Force Army Band, Stellenbosch University Medical Orchestra, UWC Wind Orchestra, UWC Brass Quintet and the Cape Town Orchestra.

In 2015 he started tutoring some of the students enrolled in the Certificate Programme and later took over the beginner theory classes from Cheryl George. Since 2019 he has been appointed as lecturer in Music Theory, History and Analysis. During the time teaching and tutoring in the programme he obtained a Diploma in Music Theory, Diploma in Music Performance (ATCL), Diploma in Music Performance (DipAbrsm) and Licentiate in Music Performance (LTCL).

Denis Goldberg – Life is Wonderful

By NewsNo Comments

Denis Goldberg “Life is Wonderful”

(11 April 1933 – 29 April 2020)

Tribute by the Department of Music / Konservatorium.

Denis Goldberg, humanist, freedom fighter, anti-apartheid activist, high command uMkhonto we Sizwe, political prisoner, tireless social campaigner and one of the two last surviving Rivonia trialists has died after a protracted battle with lung cancer. He was 87.

​Born in Cape Town in 1933, Goldberg grew up in a home committed to fighting apartheid. His parents, Annie and Sam Goldberg, were both born in London, the children of Lithuanian Jews who emigrated to England in the latter half of the 19th century. While a student at the University of Cape Town studying civil engineering, Goldberg joined the Modern Youth Society in 1953. He was involved with the Congress of the People and the shaping of the Freedom Charter in 1954/55, and was detained under the State of Emergency for four months in 1960 after the Sharpeville massacre. Goldberg joined the ANC’s armed wing uMkhonto weSizwe and on 11 July 1963, was arrested at Liliesleaf farm in Rivonia, Johannesburg. At the age of 31, he was the youngest man in the dock during the Rivonia Trial. Other defendants included Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu  Govan Mbeki, Elias Motsoaledi, Ahmed Kathrada, James Kantor, Lionel (Rusty) Bernstein, Raymond Mhlaba, Bob Hepple and Andrew Mlangeni. All the men, except Bernstein and Kantor, were charged and found guilty under the Sabotage Act with conspiracy to overthrow the state and other charges.

On 12 June 1964 when the judge sentenced Denis and his comrades to four terms of life imprisonment instead of execution, Denis called out to his anxious mother with a smile on his face “It’s life, and life is wonderful.” Goldberg spent 22 years of his life in prison before he was released on 28 February 1985.

After his release he went into exile in London where he joined his family. In London he resumed his work for the ANC in its London office from 1985 to 1994. He was a spokesperson for the ANC and also represented it at the Anti-Apartheid Committee of the United Nations. For many years, Goldberg travelled abroad extensively to speak about South Africa and the work needed to transform it.

In 1988 a large group of USA organisations presented Goldberg with the Albert Luthuli African Peace Award in recognition of his work against apartheid. On the first anniversary of South Africa’s first democratic election, Goldberg founded Community H.E.A.R.T. (Health Education And Reconstruction Training), a London-based charity that has raised millions of rands for the Rape Crisis Cape Town Trust and to date, it has donated more than three million books for children, among other things. Several other recognitions and awards followed and in 2019, the African National Congress bestowed its highest order, the Isithwalandwe / Seaparankoe award, on Denis Goldberg. President Cyril Ramaphosa, in bestowing this honour on Goldberg and several others said: “Their contribution to the struggle for humane social relations must continue to guide and inspire our actions. The literal translation of Isithwalandwe, “are the ones who wear the plumes of the rare bird”, and have shown themselves to be among the bravest warriors of our people in pursuit of social justice.”

In 2016, Stellenbosch University honoured Denis Goldberg at the 13th Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival (SICMF), where Moments in a Life, a work commissioned by the SICMF, composed by Matthijs van Dijk, and performed with Goldberg reading his own autobiographical text, had an emotionally stirring world premiere in the Endler Hall. The text of Van Dijk’s work, was extracted from Goldberg’s autobiography, A life for freedom – The mission to end racism in South Africa, with stories of various pivotal moments in Goldberg’s life. With regard to his musical treatment of Goldberg’s text, Van Dijk said: “Because the stories deal with a period from 1939 to the present day, I opted to use a very eclectic musical style, encompassing ideas that range from the cinematic to very banal 1980s glam rock/hair metal, combined with snippets of club music, representing the artificial ‘theatricism’ and perversity of the media circus surrounding the Rivonia Trial, as well as ‘free jazz’ and minimalist ideas in the prison years to convey a feeling of confinement.” (The full performance of this work can be viewed on

In an interview with Mark Gevisser before the concert, Goldberg shared his thoughts on the importance of music and how it shaped his life. He mentioned that his own obsessive love for music was not interrupted during his 22 years in prison. “Me and my inmates were allowed to purchase a long playing record every second month and during that time we had a collection of more than 800 – mainly classical, but also jazz and later African music, including penny-whistle recordings. A record player and amplifier was kept in a warden’s office and we listened to those recordings on Sunday evenings,” Goldberg said. These activities served to strengthen his love of music and his quest for freedom – not necessarily his own, but that of South Africa and its people.

Denis Goldberg has devoted his time and energy to social projects of all kinds and specifically, over the past few years, to setting up the Denis Goldberg Legacy Foundation Trust. This Trust is committed to creating the House of Hope, a centre in his home town of Hout Bay, which will facilitate the building of cultural and social bridges through Art and Culture of all types. It is intended to be a home for the many creative projects around Cape Town and the broader peninsula. Painting, drawing, drama, writing and language skills in English, Afrikaans and isiXhosa will be the core explorations. IT literacy and computer skills will also be a vital part of the centre. Besides various studios for the projects, the House of Hope will see the creation of a world class performance space with a state of the art recording studio, putting it on par with similar institutions around the world, providing young and aspiring South African artists with a platform for international collaboration. Experience has shown how, even in a severely historically divided society such as that of South Africa, people – especially children and youth – come together through music, singing, and dance of all kinds. To show its support for the initiative, the Western Cape provincial government offered the Denis Goldberg Legacy Foundation Trust a 99-year lease of the site, in Andrews Road, Hout Bay, which houses the Hout Bay Museum. In September 2018, the Trust signed the lease agreement with the Museum Board of Trustees and on 13 February 2020, Denis Goldberg attended the first intercultural event hosted on the new site where the House of Hope will be built.

After years of activism, Denis Goldberg said that the connections that can be made through music and art feel more important than ever to him. “People matter,” he says, “I feel the whole point of being in politics is about people. For me it’s not about power.”

Young people will also gain knowledge and understanding of South Africa and its history through exposure to the Denis Goldberg gallery as well as the museum. The gallery will house both the art collection which Denis has built up over many years and which represents many spheres of South African society as seen through his eyes; and a permanent exhibition depicting Denis Goldberg’s life and contribution to a democratic South Africa.

Denis Goldberg is remembered with warmth, affection and gratitude as a humble and compassionate mensch who gave his life in pursuit of freedom and human rights for the common man and who dedicated himself to the service of humanity. An extraordinary and courageous freedom fighter who lived to see the fulfilment of the mission of his generation of achieving political liberation and putting in place good foundations for a democratically governed South Africa.

Rest in peace Denis Goldberg (11 April 1933 – 29 April 2020)

Article by Fiona Grayer, Artistic Manager of the Department of Music, Stellenbosch University.

Karin Cronje

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Karin Cronje is an award-winning novelist who has published several novels, short stories, and a memoir. She graduated from Pretoria University in 1979 (BA Drama) and began a career in journalism, working at various newspapers and magazines, initially full time and later as a freelance writer. She has researched and written for, among others, the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation and the Sunday Independent. She has dubbed programmes for the SABC, performed in radio dramas and acted for Artscape. She also furthered her studies in psychology and qualified as a life skills coach.

Karin worked in the publishing industry for many years as a marketing manager and publicist. She was fortunate enough to work with and promote many leading academics, politicians and authors, including Nobel Laureate Nadine Gordimer and authors Wally Serote and Mandla Langa; former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town Mamphela Ramphele; Member of Parliament Jeremy Cronin; former Minister of Education Kader Asmal; and cartoonist, Zapiro.

In 2006, she left South Africa to teach creative writing and English in South Korea, first at a private school and later at Suncheon National University, in Suncheon. Karin returned in 2008 the year in which her novel Alles mooi weer was published, and for which she received the Jan Rabie/Rapport prize.

She joined the University of Stellenbosch Certificate Programme at the satellite campus at the Army Base in Youngsfield, Wynberg, in 2010. Her duties include teaching Academic Literacy and English to students enrolled in university courses. She also teaches research methodology and writing, as well as performance, communication, and life skills for the Bandmasters course.

Lisa-Mari Janse van Rensburg

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Lisa-Mari Janse van Rensburg grew up in Kuilsriver and Stellenbosch. She has been involved with music from a young age, one of the highlights of her early musical involvement being the opportunity to have been part of the Tygerberg Children’s Choir. During this time and onwards, she directed her musical interests towards violin.

During her BMus, she studied violin with Louis van der Watt at Stellenbosch University. During her student years, she participated in a wide range of orchestral, ensemble and solo performances, including performances with the Stellenbosch University Camerata. She received violin masterclasses with Louise Lansdown, and Baroque violin with Pauline Nobes. She graduated her BMus in 2014 with Music Education as major, and violin as her chosen instrument. In the same year, she passed the UNISA performer’s level assessment in violin with distinction. After completion of her BMus, she continued violin lessons with Suzanne Martens for another year. She received her MMus (Music Education) in 2017, under Danell Müller (née Herbst).

She participates in freelance orchestral/ensemble performances, which includes regular performances as ad hoc tutti violin player with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. She also performs regularly with the Stellenbosch University Medical Orchestra. In 2018, she was concert master for a performance with the Enlighten Symphony Orchestra. She is currently a full time violin teacher at Beau Soleil Music Centre, where she started in 2019.

Allan Stephenson

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Allan Stephenson was born in Wallasey, Cheshire in England and studied piano from the age of seven and the ‘cello at thirteen. He entered the Royal Manchester College of Music in 1968 and left with an A.R.M.C.M in 1972.

He came to South Africa in 1973 as sub-principal ‘cellist with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, a position he held until the demise of the orchestra.

Stephenson’s debut with the CTSO saw the first performance of his 1st Symphony, a work begun on the pier at Llandudno, Wales, and completed in Cape Town. Since then he has conducted all the major symphony orchestras in South Africa in concert and ballet performances. Stephenson’s repertoire is large and wide-ranging, incorporating orchestral and choral music and he has been responsible for a number of first performances in the country from Nielsen’s Inextinguishable to P D Q Bach’s 1712 Overture. With his Concertino Pastorale for Clarinet he produced the first serious music CD to be made in South Africa and has recorded many works by South African composers Zaidal-Rudolph’s At the End  of the Rainbow Klatzow’s States of light and his Brahm’s transcription of the string quintet in G major, Thomas Rajna’s  2nd Piano Concerto and Harp concerto, to name a few. From 1978-1988 he was the music director of the UCT SA College of Music Orchestra and founded the Cape Town Chamber Orchestra and Musicanti ( a String Chamber Orchestra) for a number of seasons.

Stephenson’s catalogue of works now numbers over a hundred compositions in all genres from orchestral to chamber, three operas, (including The Orphans of Qumbu – which has seen some 3,000 orphans of all races taking part), the opera who-dunnit Who killed Jimmy Valentine and last year the musical Wonderfully Wicked and concerti for almost every orchestral instrument.

As well as the concert platform, in indoor and outdoor venues, Stephenson can be found in the orchestra pit conducted his own ballet/ballet arrangements, (Tales of Hoffman, Camille and Sylvia in Hollywood – all to choreography by Veronica Paeper) or others (Raymonda, Don Quixote, Merry Widow). He conducted the SABC’s very successful first season of performances of Romeo and Juliet with a live orchestra at the Civic Theatre, Johannesburg. He has worked with many overseas soloists including Boris Belkin, Jean Volondat, Karine Georgian as well as local artists Thomas Rajna, Oliver de Groote, Peter Jacobs, Aviva Pelham, Hanli Stapela, Hugh Masekela to name a few.

Mariechen Meyer

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Mariechen Meyer believes the double bass or any form of bass to be an essential ingredient to music – music being an essential ingredient to life.  For that very reason she is an expert in her field and an active promoter of the double bass and music education in general.  Ever since she started playing the double bass Mariechen has been fascinated by the role of the double bass as a solo and chamber instrument. This fascination has led to numerous local and international music experiences such as being member of the Bassinova Quartet (USA)and iPalpiti Artists International (USA), competing in international competitions, attending masterclasses and workshops  in the United States and Europe and performing as soloist with the University of North Texas Symphony Orchestra (2013), Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (2008) and Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra (2004).  Mariechen started her studies with Peter Guy in Bloemfontein from the age of 10 that was followed by her undergraduate studies with Roxane Steffen at the University of Stellenbosch and graduate studies with Jeff Bradetich at the University of North Texas. After completing her final doctorate degree in musical arts at UNT with Bradetich, Mariechen moved back to South Africa and is currently working as a freelance performer, private double bass teacher and part-time lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch excited to share her knowledge, to continuously keep learning, do research and help promote the versatility of the double bass, the importance of music education and classical music in our community.

Stephanie Vos

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Stephanie Vos is a Lecturer in Musicology at Stellenbosch University. Her research engages with contemporary South African jazz practices as well as music under apartheid from multiple perspectives. In her doctoral research (Royal Holloway, University of London), she wrote about exile as theory, discourse and lived experience in South African jazz of the 1960s, with a particular focus on the music of Abdullah Ibrahim. More recently, the book Sulke Vriende is Skaars: Die briewe van Anton Hartman en Arnold van Wyk, 1947-1982 (Protea 2020, co-edited with Stephanus Muller) published the annotated correspondence between the erstwhile Head of Music at the South African Broadcasting Corporation, Anton Hartman, and the composer Arnold van Wyk. The book offers a window into the unfolding and cultural aspirations and praxis of the (white) Western art music scene during apartheid’s heyday through the lens of two prominent protagonists. Sulke Vriende was awarded the KykNet Rapport Prize for Non-Fiction, as well as the ATKV Woordveertjie for Non-Fiction.

Stephanie’s more recent research interests in the contemporary South African jazz landscape started when she curated the ifPOP Jazz Conversations series ( during her postdoctoral fellowship at Africa Open Institute for Music, Research and Innovation (Stellenbosch University), funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This is the direction she is currently focussing on in her writing and research.

Stephanie’s writing has been published in the South African Journal of Music Research (SAMUS), herri online journal (, Playing for Keeps: Improvisation in the Aftermath (Duke University Press, eds. Daniel Fischlin and Eric Porter) and The Conversation Africa.

ResearchGate profile address:

Stephanus Muller

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Stephanus Muller is Professor of Music and Director of Africa Open, Institute for Music, Research and Innovation (AOI) (, which functions autonomously from the Music Department in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He has worked and published on South African composers, and at AOI he supervises postgraduate students working on academic topics, performance-based studies and composition. He is the co-editor of South African Music Studies (SAMUS) (, and the publisher of herri ( For more information about his research and publications, see and

Ramon Alexander

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Pianist and composer Ramon Alexander is considered a leading exponent of Cape Jazz. He studied jazz piano under Merton Barrow at The Jazz Workshop in Cape Town after he finished high school. He however graduated with a B.Sc.Agric) from Stellenbosch University in 2004 in viticulture and oenology.

Since he was selected as pianist for the Standard Bank National Youth Big Band in 2004, Alexander worked with a variety of artists such as Robbie Jansen, Errol Dyers, McCoy Mrubata, Mark Hauser, Tuur Forizone , Frank Paco’s Art Ensemble, Japanese trumpet legend, Terumasa Hino and The Cape Jazz Band, led by veteran drummer Jack Momple.

His ensemble has performed at numerous local and international music festivals, notably the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, Borneo International Jazz Festival, The Darling Music Experience as well a residency at No Black Tie Jazz Clubin Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia in 2019.

Alexander has two albums to his credit. (Picnic at Kontiki [2011] and Echoes from Louwskloof [2015] ). In 2018 Cape Jazz Pianowas released by Mountain Records. He’s also produced numerous recording projects across various genres, most notably Essence of Spring [2018] by Cape Town jazz icon Ibrahim Khalil Shihab.

He also regularly conducts jazz ensemble workshops youth bands in the Western Cape.

Renée van den Berg

By UncategorizedNo Comments

Renée (Belcher) van den Berg completed the MMus Music Therapy degree (cum laude) through the University of Pretoria in 2012 and has worked as a music therapist and therapeutic music practitioner in a range of contexts (such as adult psychiatry, paediatric palliative care, dementia care and neuro-rehabilitation). She has also participated as a facilitator in regenerative creativity workshops for people working in the Arts.

Since completing her BA Hons in English Literature and the Licentiate in Saxophone in 2000 she has taught the saxophone, clarinet and recorder, as well as subject music, jazz band and orchestra. She has been involved in numerous community music projects such as the Western Cape Music Education Project with Ronnie Samaai (Kuils River) and the Frank Pietersen Music Centre (Paarl) where she held the position of head of the Wind Department. She has also worked as an arts journalist and jazz columnist for the Afrikaans newspaper, Die Burger, specialising in jazz and culture/place specific music (including music from Zimbabwe, Senegal, Japan, France, Spain and New Zealand). As performer, she has shared the stage with musicians, composers and writers such as Johannes Kerkorrel, Schalk Joubert, Laurinda Hofmeyr, Pierre-Henri Wicomb and Willemien Brümmer.

As a musician who has made music with people ranging from the ages of 6 months to 80 years, Renée has experienced the value of musicking as a tool to cultivate a sense of mastery, achievement, connection and community, not to mention the great joy it may bring us. As a lifelong learner about music, health and well-being she is looking forward to starting her PhD.

Renée brings a wealth of experience and insight as teacher, therapist and journalist to the Saxophone section as Orchestral Studies and Teaching Method lecturer.

Close Menu