Caviar year for concert lovers

Louise Liebenberg

MUSIC aficionado Erika Bothma has marked her 10th year as president of the Music Society of Port Elizabeth by putting together an impressive concert programme for the coming season.

Thanks to Bothma and her committee, several internationally rated artists have again been secured, “but it will definitely be the year of the pianist and of the male artist”, Bothma quipped.

The society is kicking off its all-male 2014 concert programme on February 6 with a performance by Anton Nel, considered one of the greatest South African-born pianists of all time.

Nel, now a US citizen, was appointed professor of piano and chamber music at the University of Texas in 2000 and has the prestigious title of Steinway artist.

Next on the programme is the young Russian, Konstantin Soukhovetski, on March 13. Based in the US, Soukhovetski has performed in Port Elizabeth several times and while in the city will also play Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra at the Feather Market Centre on March 16.

“Our third concert features, in my opinion, the best pianist I have ever heard,” Bothma said. “Antonio Pompa-Baldi is a must and definitely a highlight of our musical year.”

This Italian won gold in the Cleveland International Piano Competition in the US in 1999. He is a distinguished professor of piano at the Cleveland Institute of Music and internationally sought-after as a soloist and chamber musician.

His Bay concert will be on May 21.

“Then, on June 15, we will be privileged to hear the international violin and piano duo of Ilya Gringolts and Peter Laul, followed on August 14 by Cobus du Toit and Patrick Sutton, who will entertain us with music for the interesting combination of flute and guitar.

“The September 18 concert will also be very special as local singers and instrumentalists will join hands to provide a concert of popular and familiar classics.”

On October 7 another highly-rated South African pianist, Charl du Plessis, will “dazzle us with his charm both in the classical and jazz genres”.

“This Steinway artist is one of the most unique and versatile pianists South Africa has seen, working simultaneously in the classical and popular genres.”

In keeping with a society tradition the last concert, on November 19, will feature a performance by a Russian great.

Pianist Andrei Pisarev is a past grand prize winner of the international Mozart competition in Salzburg and a professor at the Moscow Conservatory.

The society has continued its close relationship with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) music department and as such the NMMU’s South Campus auditorium is the venue of choice for these intimate chamber performances, which always start at 7.30pm.

“It pays to become a society member as the concerts work out a lot cheaper that way,” Bothma said.

Single membership is R430, double R780 and pensioner membership R330. Married couples pay R610, while students pay R95 and pupils R90.

“If you divide the annual membership fee by eight it is still under R55 per concert – a bargain you will find only in PE,” Bothma said. For membership e-mail Theresa Cunliffe at

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