Nine of Cape Town’s finest young musicians are set to perform with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra at the Western Cape Youth Music Festival in December. Ian Landsberg African News Agency (ANA)
Nine of Cape Town’s finest young musicians are set to perform with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra at the Western Cape Youth Music Festival in December. Ian Landsberg African News Agency (ANA)

Cape Town’s musical youth to shine at classic festival

By Sam Spiller Time of article published Dec 13, 2020

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Cape Town’s young classical talent will be on full display at the Western Cape Youth Festival, which streams later today.

The annual event which is hosted by Artscape Theatre Centre and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO), is set to air on Fine Music Radio and streamed today on YouTube.

The festival features nine hand-picked musicians from across the province who will each perform a concert with the CPO.

For pianist Jacqueline Choi, the chance to work with the world-renowned orchestra is a big change for her.

“It’s been really fun,” she said.

“It’s my first time playing with an orchestra, so it’s very exhilarating.

“Solo work can feel a bit lonely in a sense.

“When you play with a group you get to concentrate with them and learn how to adjust compared to solo work where you just do everything at your own pace.”

A piano player since the age of six, the 18 year old from Durbanville selected the first movement of Francis Poulenc’s Piano Concerto to play with the orchestra.

“It has a very impressionistic feel to it,” Choi said.

“My part is mostly accompaniment, which is very different to other concertos where the piano gets the solo parts.

“With this one, obviously I get some solo time, but it’s nice for the orchestra to shine as well and it would make the concerto more enjoyable.

“The harmonies are excellent and it has a magical, fairytale feel to it.”

Choi competed in the National Youth Music Competition in 2017 and 2018.

A student of physiotherapy at Stellenbosch University, she is considering to study a music degree upon completing her current studies.

Choi added: “I’m feeling very good about it and excited for the concert to be seen.

“I’m very proud about what I’ve done and to share it with other people.”

Pianist Daniel Brodie. Supplied

Meanwhile, Daniel Brodie, another young pianist participating in the festival, will be soothing audiences with a performance of the first movement of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 1 in F-sharp minor.

“It’s not often heard in South Africa anymore really.

“His first concerto is very underplayed and it’s a great discovery.

“My teacher suggested I do it and it’s something that audiences can look forward to hearing and I hope I will have the opportunity to play it in its complete form at some stage. It’s slightly nerve-racking but still good.”

The 20 year old from Stellenbosch has played with the CPO before at the 2019 National Youth Music Competition where he placed third overall.

He is studying piano at Stellenbosch University.

“It’s quite a prestigious event to participate in the youth festival and it’s special to be able to play such a wonderful repertoire with what could be considered South Africa’s premiere orchestra,” Brodie said.

Though this performance is under very different circumstances.

“I think this is going to be interesting compared to normally where there’s free access for everyone but now with all the Covid-19 protocols in place, it does change a lot,” Brodie added.

Brodie and Choi are two of the four pianists expected to perform at the festival alongside other young musicians on bassoon, viola, cello, oboe, and clarinet.

Pianist Jacqueline Choi in rehearsal with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, under the watchful eye of conductor Brandon Philips. Supplied

In late November following the selection process, the musicians took part in rehearsals with the orchestra, led by resident conductor Brandon Philips.

“The rehearsals went very well for the festival,” he said.

“I was very impressed by the young soloists, they showed musicality and responded immediately to things that had to be corrected.

“I am happy to see that our youth has not given up on their dreams through this Covid 19 pandemic.”

Marlene le Roux, chief executive of Artscape, said events such as the festival were important in highlighting the talent of South Africa’s youth.

“All of these scholars have many awards and accolades,” she said.

“We’ve gone all out, this is a high quality of standard of young performers that we want to feature.

“The future of our country is young people that can see we are believing in them and that the arts are alive and well.”

The Western Cape Youth Festival can be heard on Fine Music Radio from 3pm to 5pm, and can be watched on the Artscape YouTube channel from 3pm.

CPO conductor Brandon Philips. Supplied

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