Mozart partially completed his Requiem, ironically only up to the eighth bar of the Lacrimosa, “that day of tears and mourning”.
It was commissioned by Count von Walsegg for the commemoration of his wife’s death.
A momentous work, it forms part of an all-Mozart programme, which includes the evergreen Eine kleine Nachtmusik, his third Horn Concerto, and opera arias from Don Giovanni and The Marriage of Figaro.
Neil Smit is one of the group of talented soloists, who will perform Mozart’s Horn Concerto.
Smit started playing the horn as a Grade 2 pupil.
As a visually impaired youngster, he was keen to play the trumpet, but found it easier to read the music sheets playing the French horn, as he could have enlarged solo pieces printed and sit closer to the sheet music stand.
“It didn’t take long before I got used to it and now, after 24 years, I am highly attracted to it. I began listening to classical music for the horn and noticed it had an amazing heroic tone,” he said.
“I loved Mozart’s Horn Concertos actually right from start and as part of my practice, I play some of his concertos every day for fun, and particularly this is one of the easiest to play.
“Mozart was actually quite a humorous person and really brought this out, particularly in the third concerto.”
Smit studied the French horn with horn greats Peter Amon and Sorin Osorhean and graduated in 2006 with BMus Honours cum laude from the University of Cape Town.
He started his professional career as a freelance horn player, performing with all of South Africa’s leading symphony orchestras, notably the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, for which he is still regularly called to play.
Among his many achievements, he has performed the extremely demanding first horn parts to Handel’s Oratorios, Samson and Judas Maccabaeus with the Orchestra of the Academy of St Andrew’s under Dr Barry Smith in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Following the success of these performances, Dr Smith invited him to perform the horn part in Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings in October 2014 as part of the St Andrew’s concert series.
In the same year, Neil graduated with MMus cum laude from Stellenbosch University, after which he worked part time for a couple of years as a lecturer in aural training.
These days, when he’s not performing publicly, he told me he works as a private tutor in aural skills, and focuses on contemporary Christian music.
He’s a member of the Shofar Christian Church, where he serves in the worship ministry as performer and producer and also lectures for Shofar’s School of Worship, a training course for church musicians, which began in 2015 and is presented to churches across the world.
He said he’s also producing an album with the Shofar church band. “Producing it is something new for me, but having been interested in music technology it’s a fit.”
Now in his thirties, he said he sees the future as being filled with “so many things”.
“But in general I’d just like to grow in creativity.
“Having been mostly an orchestral player largely I just play instructions, but would like to produce and do something electronic, offering more diverse sounds.
“Horn players are perceived as being more conservative, but these days we have to be more versatile.”
* The concert, at the Dutch Reformed Chirch in Mountain View Road, Ridgeworth, Bellville tomorrow, starts at 7.30pm. Other soloists are Jolene McCleland, soprano; Violina Angelov, alto; Arthur Swan, tenor; and Garth Delport, bass.
Tickets are R125 and concession R90 each. For more details call Jacques on 082 453 3236 or [email protected]