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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.

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