Inspired by a passion for music

Shaanaaz de Jager

THRILLED Nelson Mandela Bay members of the National Youth Orchestra have expressed their excitement at performing in Port Elizabeth tonight and in Grahamstown during the National Arts Festival this weekend.

The orchestra, led by international conductor Gérard Korsten, will perform their Sasol concert at the Feather Market Centre in Port Elizabeth tonight at 7pm.

A free concert by the National Youth Concert Orchestra, conducted by Juan Munoz, will also be held today at 3pm at the same venue.

They repeat their programme at the National Arts Festival at the Guy Butler Theatre on Saturday at 11am with a free concert tomorrow at the Kingswood College Sports Hall in Grahamstown at 3pm.

Third year Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University music student Babalwa Tshula, 20, who plays the bass clarinet for the orchestra, described her experience as “amazing”.

Tshula, from Zwide in Port Elizabeth, said playing in the orchestra was “fulfilling” her passion.

“I share my passion for music with the people who play in the orchestra,” said Tshula, who also plays the clarinet for the NMMU Wind Ensemble.

Auditions for the orchestra are held in February.

Muir College Boys High matriculant Bradley Martin, 17, said the experience had been very stressful during the first three days but had become more enjoyable closer to concert days.

Martin, a violinist and the concert master for the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, said he was asked by organisers to participate .

“I had to write maths lit and life orientation in advance to prepare for the concert,” Martin said.

Philip Karp, a 17-year-old Grey High School matriculant, said music was a big part of his life.

“We play great music. There are excellent people here,” the young musician said.

Their programme includes Hindemith’s Metamorphosis, Sibelius’s Symphony No 2 and a Southern African Music Rights Organisation-commissioned piece by South African composer Robert Fokkens.

Korsten, the son of the late South African tenor and actor, Gé Korsten, himself joined the orchestra in 1971 as a junior and later became a senior player.

Korsten said he was passionate about young people who enjoy playing music.

“Older people must pass on their knowledge of music to younger people,” Korsten said.

Orchestra managing director Sophia Welz said about 25 of the orchestra members were from the Eastern Cape.

Orchestra courses are held throughout the year, but the Sasol-sponsored winter course is a highlight with 150 participants and a wide selection of top musicians from across the globe.

Participants are selected to form part of one of two orchestras – the National Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Concert Orchestra.

The international faculty provides world-class teaching and mentoring for individual instruments, as well as tuition in subjects as diverse as instrument repair, composition, arts administration and ensemble playing.

“The Sasol course attracts top-quality musicians from across the country and the public performances delight audiences year after year,” said Richard Hughes, Sasol’s sponsorship manager.

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