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SICMF cello student wins “Viennese Cello Award”

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPqa18xPmZc&fbclid)

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

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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 (krabmuziek.wordpress.com), 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’ (https://www.rewirefestival.nl/artist/creative-sound-lab). 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 (rochevantiddens.wordpress.com).

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

CD Launch of Die Kruisiging

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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 concerts@sun.ac.za, or tel. 021 808 2358.

Tribute to flautist Éva Tamássy

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The recent passing away of the Stellenbosch flautist Éva Tamássy on 30 November 2018 was lamented by all music lovers. A memorial service took place at the Dove’s Chapel, Somerset West, during which Gabriele von Dürckheim and Liesl Stoltz, with guitarist Michael Hoole, performed music by CPE Bach and Jules Massenet.

Tamássy was a well-known personality in especially music circles of the Western Cape. As gifted instrumentalist she played a significant role in the promotion of music for the flute, and appeared as member of a variety of ensembles. She was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1936, and received her music education at the Ferenc Erkel Conservatorium and Franz Liszt Music Academy, Budapest, and studied later with French flautist Jean-Pierre Rampal. Escaping from Hungary with her parents after the 1956 uprising, she settled in Johannesburg and soon established herself as broadcaster, recitalist, chamber musician and concerto soloist. She obtained the Unisa Performers’ Licentiate in Flute with distinction in 1965, and made many recordings for the SABC radio.

Since her appointment as flute lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch (1960) she was lauded for her chamber music concerts of Baroque music together with artists such as Shirley Gie (organ), Dalena Roux (cello) and Boudewijn Scholten (harpsichord). She played and broadcast regularly in concerts with ensembles such as Musica Antiqua, Serenade Ensemble, Pro Arte Wind Ensemble, Tamássy-Fortescue Duo, Concerts 4 x 2, and the Tamássy Flute Quartet. In the early 1990s she compiled and presented a 13-part series for radio called From Shepherd to Symphony. Illustrated radio programmes also focused on the French flute virtuoso and pedagogue Marcel Moyse, and on Theobald Boehm, composer and inventor of the modern flute. Besides teaching she also presented masterclasses – in Stellenbosch, Cape Town and Pecs (Hungary).

During her professional career she never backed away from the challenges of contemporary music, as is testified by her performance of Berio’s Sequenza. Several local composers dedicated works to her, including Arnold van Wyk’s only composition for flute, Poerpasledam (a corruption of the French Pour passer le temps) for flute and piano. At the first performance of the work in 1981 Tamássy was accompanied by the composer. Other composers include Paul Loeb van Zuilenburg, Hubert du Plessis and Roelof Temmingh.

Flute compositions Temmingh wrote for her include his Façade for flute and piano (1971, revised 1973), Nude for flute and piano (1973), a Sonatine for flute and guitar (1977), Moedverloor op A-mol for 12 flautists (premièred by 24 players in 1974), a Flute Quartet (1975), Psalm 42 for five flutes and bassoon (1976), a Quartet for flute, oboe, clarinet and bassoon, Last Pieces no 2 for unaccompanied flute solo (subtitled by Tamássy as Nostalgia) (1987) and a Flute Concerto (premièred by Tamássy and the USSO in 1989).

Tamássy made regular visits to Europe to keep abreast of the latest flute teaching methods, and to pave the way for her students to study in Europe in the music schools in Germany, France, England and Hungary. In collaboration with pianist Virginia Fortescue the duo gave public recitals in Vienna, Budapest, Scotland and France between 1990 and 1996 and a recital on Radio Budapest. She was also an editor of scores, and arranged Hungarian music such as folk songs for flute and piano.

After retirement in 1998 until shortly before her death Tamássy still played regularly, and maintained the tutoring of a handful of pupils at her house. She is remembered fondly by her family and friends, and she is honoured, in particular, by the numerous flute players whom she trained and mentored during almost sixty years of teaching.

Her former students will honour her legacy in several ways. As a tribute to her, a concert dedicated to the flute, directed by Gabriele von Dürckheim, is planned for 2019 at the Music Department, Stellenbosch University. Tamássy’s valuable collection of sheet music will find a permanent home in the library of the Johnman Music Centre in Herte Street. Some of her ex-students, Marietjie Pauw, Mariëtte Schumann and Linda de Villiers, have established ‘The Tamássy Hour’, open to all flautists, for regular sight reading sessions, and playing music from the Tamássy Collection.

Written by Prof Izak Grové & Marietjie Pauw

Bennie van Eeden retires after 30 years at the Konservatorium

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Retirement –  As the Afrikaans poet Uys Krige says in his poem Plaashek , I experience retirement  as a gate that has to be opened  for a different phase in my life. He says: Waar het my paaie nie geloop, om my by hierdie hek te bring? Ek lig die knip en maak ‘n hek oop in my hart.

How do I feel about it??  I feel like the Schubert Lied that is normally sung by first years, sometimes out of tune- Lachen und weinen  zu jegliche Stunde-— Laughter …and tears…  at any hour.

Allow me a few words…

There are so many things I am grateful for:

A: I consider myself very fortunate and privileged to have been in a tertiary position   for 40 years, where my occupation revolved around my prime passion- music, -of which 10 years was at the Wellington Training College, and the past 30 years at the Conserve.

As a first year student at the old Conserve in 1972, I did not consider it a possibility at all to serve at any stage on the staff of the Conserve. I was very much in awe of names like Richard Behrens, Reino Ottermann, Betsie Cluver, John Antoniadis, Lionel Bowman, Arnold van Wyk , Hubert du Plessis, Roelof Temmingh etc.

However, I was appointed here in 1988 at the new Conserve… What a privilege to work in such an aesthetic  environment, to teach  in this stylish, class leading and timeless  architectural masterpiece, with its wonderful facilities, foyers, aulas, studios, soundproofing, beautiful views, shadow lines at most windows and doors, and the beautiful fire staircases, which remind me somewhat of the saucer-sculptured Guggenheim museum in N.Y.

B: Most importantly, were the people in the building.

Students: The highlight of my job was working with our music students, which, to my mind, are of a special level and class. Working and interacting with them individually, or in ensemble, in repertoire classes and especially at the Voorspeelklasse, was immensely rewarding… And l will miss the constant renewal of faces, personalities and talent with the yearly intake. I am so fortunate to be able to state that I have lived my dreams.

C: But of course the tip of this musical pyramid is the staff-you. What a super-talented group you are, actually able to function with great success in the corporate world, but dedicating and investing your energy to an educational institute.

I experienced so much goodwill from all of you all.

  1. The friendly an accomplished face of the managerial and communication division- Fiona and team.
  2. Facility Official and team –Nicky.
  3. Administrative team
  4. The welcoming people at the cafeteria
  5. Beulah and her well equipped library and staff
  6. The academic staff
  7. And lastly the Practical Staff: permanent as well as ad hoc members:

You were the group where my heart belongs. I consider creativity as the heartbeat of life. Performing with colleagues have been so inspiring and professionally enriching. And I want to specially mention Corvin today, with whom I shared many a stage with his orchestra, in a trio (Romantic) and in Bach concerto with Suzanne. A special word of thanks to  Fiona as well as Peter for the great honour bestowed on me to perform Mozart’s K271 and K 365 piano concerti with the SU Camerata at the Woordfees in March this year as a farewell concert.

D. And that brings me to the TOP floor, third floor- my piano colleagues:

Nina, your appointment about 20 years ago, elevated  the  Conserve to another level regarding international exposure, connections and musical events. I am so grateful for the opportunity working with you and I have so much appreciation in the special way you acted as head of the  piano division. And… I have known you since you were 15 competing in the Hennie Joubert Piano Competition in Wellington.

Luis, with your special talents and insight, thank you for being a wonderful colleague. We all admire your persuasive skills to convince even Yamaha to get rid of their pianos, apparently even of two of the superb CFX models!!

Pieter, I still remember your stunning performance and exceptional masterclass at your audition. Thank you for being a very special colleague. You also had the task of guiding this complex and diverse Department during the last 2 difficult years, sometimes, as the Dean said, having to make unpopular decisions. I admire your work ethic, sense of responsibility, integrity, academic and intellectual talents- and your continuing concertising.

Lastly, Mario I wish you and the Conserve a prosperous time ahead. I believe that with your skills, managerial experience and talent, backed by the dedicated and supporting staff, 2019 and the future will be a very successful era for the Conserve, remaining a bastion of competence and a star of civilization.

I thank you all.

I will miss you all.

I love you and I salute you.

Poverty does not get young musicians down; winner of prestigious ATKV prize

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Melisizwe Plaatjie was 16 years old when his fingers touched the piano keys for the very first time while trying hard to master a C-major scale. Now, three years later, this young musician from George was named as the winner of the Albert Engel Prize sponsored by the ATKV. This prize gives students from mostly previously disadvantaged backgrounds the opportunity to receive instrumental and theoretical teaching in music and possibly to enrol themselves later for a BMus degree.

“That was my first and last piano lesson, because there was not a music teacher at my high school,” said Melisizwe. Since only one of his parents worked, there was no money for private piano lessons. “I was broken. To improve, you have to practice piano on a regular basis and take lessons. ”

But where there is a will, there’s a way, and Melisizwe taught himself piano by watching pop and jazz piano lessons on YouTube. Until 2017 the video channel was his only teacher. “It greatly improved my technique and musical vocabulary.”

He dreamed of studying music after matric but struggled to get university admission. “I was very disappointed and felt lost. Music was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I started thinking I’m not good enough.”

But everything changed when he was accepted for the Certificate Programme in Music at Stellenbosch University this year.

“It was a challenge to play classical music, because for the past three years I’ve only played jazz and pop. But under the guidance of my music teacher, Throy Petersen, I feel that anything is possible.”

Melisizwe says it is a great honour for him to receive the Albert Engel Prize. “I’ve heard you’re only nominated if you work hard and your lecturer sees potential in you.”

The Certificate Programme was started by the late Albert Engel, a lecturer in brass instruments and conductor of the Stellenbosch Symphonic Wind Band. After Albert passed away in September 2003, his dream continued when it was decided to dedicate an annual prize in his name. The prize money of R20 000 is awarded to the student who shows the most enthusiasm, who rises above difficult circumstances and makes the best of the opportunity to study music at Stellenbosch University.

Melisizwe says his mantra is “if you don’t sow, you won’t reap”.

“This award proves it: you get out what you put in.”