Skip to main content


Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival is back!

By News

Whilst still in the midst of the pandemic, but in positive anticipation that we will indeed wrestle it into submission, the management of the SICMF is moving forward with cautious optimism in soliciting student entries for the 2022 festival. The 17th SICMF will take place from 1 to 10 July 2022 at the Stellenbosch Konservatorium – the home of Stellenbosch University’s Department of Music.

For 16 consecutive years, the SICMF was a major event on the educational and entertainment calendar in the Western Cape. Then Covid-19 struck, forcing the cancellation of both the 2020 and 2021 festivals. Pre Covid, the SICMF attracted around 300 students annually of which around 80% were from South Africa (all nine provinces) and 20% from abroad. Nina Schumann, the SICMF Artistic Director, hand-picks the international faculty comprising some of the world’s finest musicians.

Plans are now on track to continue this classical music extravaganza with much-loved artists from former years keen to perform, teach and inspire on our local stages again. Madeline Adkins, Alissa Margulis and Nicholas Dautricourt (violin), Gareth Lubbe (viola), Marco Silva (trumpet), Demarre McGill (flute) and Weston Sprott (trombone) are amongst those from the USA, France, Germany and Portugal that have crept into the hearts of the South African students and audience members alike. Alongside new faces including Knut-Erik Sundquist (double bass), and Kyril Zlotnikov (cello), these artists are amongst those already signed up for the July spectacular.

Students are invited to enroll online at Programmes and details of ticket sales will be made known in a few months’ time.

2021 SICMF Cancelled due to Covid-19

By News

After much deliberation, the executive management of the SICMF has decided to cancel this year’s event. This is the second year running in which the SICMF has been cancelled.

Whereas many were looking forward to the 17Th SICMF as a phoenix rising from the ashes in the wake of Covid-19 devastation this year, the reality of the situation is that Covid-19 is far from over.

Festival Director, Peter Martens says, “Whereas we still hope for there to have been much improvement in the global situation by July/August, we simply can’t guarantee a safe environment for 300+ students, let alone the extent of time-consuming quarantines for our international faculty. We also need to take into account that there is at this point, no predictable timeline for the reintroduction of audiences to live performances.”

Students who have entered and paid for participation in the 2021 SICMF can contact the Logistics & Finance Manager, Brent Reynolds at, for a full refund.

In addressing the 2021 SICMF faculty, Artistic Director, Nina Schumann said, “We are all devastated to come to this decision but trust you will understand.  I thank you for your continued support of the festival and truly hope we can return with a bang in 2022.”

SICMF invites student participants to enrol

By News

Whilst music festivals, theatres, educational facilities and entertainment venues cautiously plan ahead in the wake of the single most disastrous year for the performing arts ever, the SICMF sends out a clear and positive message: The 17th SICMF will take place from 26 July to 4 August and now invites student participants to enrol.

Festival Director, Peter Martens, says, “With due reverence for those who have passed or suffered hardship, we cannot let this pandemic define or defeat us. Music making and music education will be an integral part of the healing process, firstly as we play a meaningful role in inspiring and uplifting those who have carried us through the dark and silent months, and then (as community interaction and celebrations of human life slowly become the norm again), we empower people through music performance and music education in establishing music as an embracing facilitator of social cohesion in the new normal.”

Whilst planning for both best and worst case scenarios, the management of the SICMF undertakes to refund entry fees of student participants, should Covid-19 cause the 2021 SICMF to be cancelled. However, with faith in the tenacity of the human race and in particular the marvels of modern medicine, the SICMF looks to present a fantastic array of internationally acclaimed artists and music.

Keep an eye on our website for details of artists, programmes, Computicket sales (these should open on or around 1 June) and the online participant entry form, now open for students.

SICMF cello student wins “Viennese Cello Award”

By News

Despite Covid-19 rudely silencing our concert halls and music festivals, individuals and music organisations around the world have been trying to keep the magic of live performance flourishing through live-streaming. However, a major part of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival is its focus on education. In addition to performances, master classes and coaching sessions, each year the generosity of local and international donors results in some special awards being made to SICMF students.

On August 16 this year a call was made for cello students of the SICMF to submit letters of motivation for a very special award – a valuable cello and bow donated by Mrs Gila Marshall who fondly recalls the instrument as her father’s. She brought it back from Vienna after he passed away and it remains a wonderful memory of his love for the cello and music making with him.  She has expressed her thanks to local cellists, Graham du Plessis and Peter Martens (the latter also in his capacity as SICMF Director) in realising the revival of the cello, saying that after all these years she felt it was time to have this instrument played again. It is her express wish that the award be called the “Viennese Cello Award”.

Fourteen heartfelt letters from talented young South African cellists were received and together with her husband Chris, Gila Marshall has decided to award the cello to Nastassja Pretorius. Nastassja is currently studying towards an Honours degree in cello performance at the University of Stellenbosch. She hails from Ruyterwacht and dreams of one day joining a professional symphony orchestra.

The management of the SICMF would like to express sincerest thanks to Chris and Gila Marshall for this compassionate gesture, congratulations to Nastassja Pretorius, and a special thank you to its long-time sponsor in kind, Pirastro, for the new set of hand-crafted Edition cello strings.

Homage to Prof Eric Rycroft

By News

I first met “Eric” (as we all called him) in 1980, when I started taking lessons with him and playing in his Stellenbosch String Orchestra (for 10 unforgettable years). I was one of the participants when he established the USSO in 1981, and also saw him in action as brilliant Principal Viola in the then CAPAB orchestra during the years that I played there.

Eric was the best possible teacher that I could have had after my school years with Jack de Wet. From Jack de Wet, I received a wonderful technical grounding. Eric taught me about musicality, phrasing, playing true to the style of a work. I did 3 Licentiates and studied under him for 8 years – I simply couldn’t stop. Not one moment of my lessons was empty.

When I had to follow him up as conductor of the USSO after his serious accident, I was filled with trepidation at the thought that I now had to carry his mantle: the number and variety of works that he had done with over the years with the USSO is truly staggering. No undertaking was too daunting for him: I, for one, would never do the Gounod Mass with my choir, because the orchestra requires 6 (!) harps. Eric did the Gounod – with 6 harps on stage.

It is solely thanks to him that I have a thorough knowledge of works for string orchestra. There is almost no work for string orchestra, from the Baroque to the end of the 20th century, that he did not do with us, and sometimes also performed overseas. He is also the one that opened up countless opportunities for me to play in various groups and orchestras in Cape Town and elsewhere.

Occasionally, he could drive one round the bend when he was “on a mission” – but I always understood it as the product of his boundless enthusiasm and passion. –His key holder had the inscription “Certified crazy person”, which I always thought was very funny and very apt. He was crazy and unstoppable when he had a new project at hand. At the annual National Orchestra Course, his orchestra used to be the most popular one, both for the appealing works that he always selected, but also for the person that he was with the young people.

He was an exceptionally kind, generous, warm-hearted and spontaneous person. He was genuine and had a kind heart. In my mind’s eye I see him before me, smiling and gesturing, enthusiastically telling me about his newest project. This is how I shall remember him.

Louis van der Watt

Donation ensures continuation of SU Certificate Programme

By News

The Certificate Programme (CP) in Music Literacy at Stellenbosch University (SU) has received funding to ensure completion of the academic year despite the national lockdown.

According to Pamela Kierman, senior lecturer at SU’s music department, the funding will ensure great success for their students. “The fun​​ds will be used to purchase laptops as most of our students are unable to afford their own. We, as the music department, have also purchased data for students in preparing for virtual learning.”

Kierman says it is a dream come true for their funding application to be accepted as it will allow the programme to continue without disruption. “At the CP, we believe in ‘access to all’ because a large number of our students are adults who had already given up on life. This funding will help us in helping them realise their dreams of studying music.”

Programme coordinator and senior music lecturer Felicia Lesch adds that they are in the process of ordering the laptops and tablets, which will remain the property of the CP but will be available to the students for use. “This is applicable to students on all campuses – the Stellenbosch campus, the military students and those at the Musiquelaine Project at Steenberg High School in Cape Town. Without access to laptops, teaching is not accessible to all,” says Lesch.

“The CP is an opportunity for students to upgrade their practical and theoretical skills so that they can proceed to tertiary music studies. We want them to have the same access to their studies as other students on campus.

“While some of our students have access to the internet, many do not, and to allow them to continue with their lectures, we requested funding for laptops and were fortunate enough to be part of the group that received the R129 800 funding from the University,” says Lesch.

Established in 1999, the Certificate Programme has been offering free music training to aspiring community musicians. According to Lesch, the programme is one of the largest recruitment pools at SU’s music department.

She says the one-year part-time programme is a great opportunity for community musicians to enhance their music literacy skills. Lesch says the programme selects 20- 30 students yearly.

“Many of our students have gone on to achieve great success in their respective musical careers. We have also collaborated with the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) in training military bandsmen.”

The Certificate Programme has given birth to various community music organisations. Projects including the Liron School of Arts, Athlone Academy of Music (AAM), Overberg Koperblaasontwikkelingsprojek (OKOSI), West Coast Music Academy (WCMA), Musiquelaine SA Initiative: Steenberg High School Wind Band Project, Ronnie Samaai Music Education Project (RSMEP), Mitchells Plain Academy of Music and Arts (MPAMA) and many others who seek to transform communities through music.

For more information on the Certificate Programme, click here. ​

Marian Kimmel (11 March 1940 – 29 June 2020)

By News

For several decades, Marian Lewin (she retained her maiden name as her stage name after marrying Harold Kimmel in 1965) has been regarded as the doyenne of South African cellists. She obtained her University of South Africa Performers Licentiate in 1963, and in 1969, attended the International Cello Week in Holland where she appeared on Eurovision and was judged best cellist.

She had a very successful career as orchestral cellist, chamber musician and soloist with amongst others, the SABC, the Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal) Philharmonic and PACT Symphony orchestras. She also taught at the University of the Witwatersrand, the Pro-Arte School in Pretoria and at the University of Cape Town.

She was the cellist for the Alma Musica Piano Trio for 34 years and subsequently joined the Rosamunde and Schwietering String Quartets, I Grandi Violoncellisti and the Hermanay Flute Trio. Her music making extended extensively beyond the groups in which she was a permanent member and was for many years, South Africa’s most sought after cello chamber music partner.

Marian’s love for her fellow human beings and her music was as genuine as it was generous. She was loved by all who were touched by her kindness and most beautiful playing. South Africa has lost a great artist whose humility is encapsulated in her final request – she wanted no funeral nor tombstone, but would instead like those with the means to do so, to make a donation to their favourite charity.

She passed away without prolonged suffering just a few days after having been admitted to a care facility close to her home in Sea Point, Cape Town. She leaves behind her beloved husband, Harold, and three sons, Bryan, Warren and Gary.

Written by Dr Peter Martens

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.

Alumni news

By NewsNo Comments

Two Maties Alumni, Lucinda Watts and Roché van Tiddens are engaged. The couple met each other while studying at the Conservatorium in 2011. Lucinda specialized in Music Education and among other ventures, taught music lessons as part of the community music project Jamestown Sounds. Roché studied Music Composition under the tutelage of Hans Roosenschoon. During this time Lucinda was employed as a music teacher at Bastion Primary School. After completing his master’s degree in 2016, the couple spent a year in the UK. Here Roché continued his studies at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where he obtained a Post-Graduate diploma in composition. Thereafter the couple moved to the Hague, Netherlands where Lucinda studied a master’s degree in music education at the ‘Royal Conservatory’ and Roché studied the one-year course in Sonology.

For Lucinda’s research, the couple started a project called Crab Music (, which is aimed at bringing music composition, with the use of hands on electronic sound generators, to young learners in the form of a workshop. A fusion of both of the couple’s individual interests, electronic music composition and music education. During the workshop participants build their own electronic instruments with simple objects such as batteries, speakers and contact microphones. After the participants discover a new sound world, their ideas are developed into a musical composition which is then performed as a small concert for their parents at the end of the workshop. After the pilot workshop with a total of 8 participants the project grew and developed. In 2019 Crab Music was invited to take part in the annual music festival, ‘Rewire’ ( Apart from hosting Crab Music workshops Lucinda has a private piano studio and teaches violin at the British School in the Netherlands.

Roché is currently working on a new composition called Dumelang for choir and with live electronics. The piece was commissioned by the ‘Haags Toonkunstkoor’, a choir that has been around for nearly 200 years, which he is also a member of. The text of the piece comprises of greetings in the 11 official South African languages and the music includes recordings of wildlife made on a game reserve in the Limpopo Province. The meaning of the text is a celebration of diversity in South Africa and would have been performed as part of the ‘75ste jaar bevrijdingsdag  feest’ on the 5th of May 2020. Visit Roché’s website to listen to of his works (

The happy couple are planning to get married in Western Cape in 2021.

CD Launch of Die Kruisiging

By NewsNo Comments

In the Konservatorium on 3 March a new CD of exceptional significance was introduced to the public. It is a recording of Die Kruisiging, the first St. John Passion in Afrikaans, which was composed by Winfried Lüdemann for the 500th anniversary of the Reformation in 2017.  Martin Berger, Senior Lecturer in Choral Conducting in the Department of Music, was responsible for the recording.  The significance of the project lies therein that a professional vocal ensemble in Germany, directed by Berger, joined forces with five experienced South African soloists to record the work.  The ensemble AmaCantus rehearsed the numerous choral sections of the work in Afrikaans and then recorded them in Düsseldorf, while the solo sections were recorded simultaneously by the South African singers in Stellenbosch.  Dr Gerhard Roux, lecturer in Music Technology in the Music Department, was responsible for the local component of the recording.  The final product was put together in Germany and is now being marketed world-wide by the German recording company Guma Records.  Charcoal drawings by the Stellenbosch artist and former Matie Ydi Coetsee, which were created specifically for Die Kruisiging, adorn the CD cover and booklet.

At the launch Berger described the CD as an exceptional example of international cooperation in both the artistic and technological fields between Stellenbosch University and leading players in the music industry abroad.  He added that the University can be proud to be involved in a project of this magnitude and significance.  It illustrates that our expertise is both locally relevant and internationally competitive.

The recording does not only give world-wide exposure and recognition to one of the most extensive sacred works to be composed in Afrikaans to date, but also to Afrikaans as a language of music.

The CD can be acquired for R180 from Fiona Grayer at, or tel. 021 808 2358.

Close Menu