Youth orchestra performance celebrating life and music

Lynne Gadd-Claxton and Sive Zuzile

THE Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra’s (ECPO) annual Youth Orchestra Experience (YOE) is “breaking through the ceiling” of the South African orchestral industry.

The 10th annual YOE will showcase the country’s only regional orchestra and wind band course in South Africa on Sunday at the Feather Market Centre.

The YOE allows young musicians in the Eastern Cape to come together and share their musical experience with an audience. Isak Roux composed a piece, based on South African folk songs, called Intrada Africana for the orchestra and composer Allan Stephenson created Eastern Cape Overture for the wind band.

Both these works were commissioned for the 10th YOE.

The orchestra will be conducted by National Youth Orchestra’s conductor Gerben Grooten.

The orchestra will perform Finladia, Sibelius’s Op 26, a Stevie Wonder medley and Fantaisie Brillante Carmen for flute and orchestra, with Khanyisile Mthetwa as soloist on flute.

The wind band will perform works by Richard Saucedo and Philip Sparke and a medley of The Doors’ songs.

The YOE has been funded by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund since its inception 10 years ago.

Through this funding the ECPO are able to offer children from disadvantaged areas an opportunity to experience an orchestral education through its Music Investment Project.

ECPO Music Investment Project director Judy Speyers said the funding was instrumental in giving vital support to the YOE from the very start.

“The ECPO is very grateful that the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund continues to recognise the event as an important part of the education of the young musicians of the Eastern Cape,” Speyers said.

The course, which started on Wednesday, saw the youth undergoing a full day’s intense practice, under the leadership of some of the country’s top music specialists.

Grooten, who was born in the Netherlands but now calls South Africa home, said music is a recreational activity.

“The most natural thing for humans to do is make music. I want to change the perception that music is just playing notes.

“It is about reflecting life, who you are and what you think about life,” Grooten said.

The internationally-acclaimed conductor has worked with Shakira, Robbie Williams, Freshly Ground and Lira.

Grooten has played with the New York Philharmonic.

“I want to do two things with the orchestra. I want to break their fear of making mistakes and for them to connect a celebration of life with music.

“Music is too beautiful to be fearful.

“This is not an exam, there are no grades in life. The orchestra must just live life,” he said.

Speyers said the YOE consists of 150 children from as far afield as Grahamstown.

She said children and parents from disadvantaged areas were given the chance to experience orchestral music which was not usually given a platform there.

“With our varied backgrounds and complicated and diverse past, South African musicians can break through the ceilings of artistic expressions,” Grooten said.

The YOE will “live the experience of music” on Sunday at 3pm at the Feather Market Centre in Baakens Street, Central, in Port Elizabeth.

Seating is unreserved. Tickets are R25 (adults) and R15 (pupils) and are available at the door.

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