Magda plays marimba with NMMU

Magda de Vries
Magda de Vries

Acclaimed percussionist Magda de Vries joins forces with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s wind symphony choir as they prepare to blow audiences away with the premiere of their Marimba and Wind concert tomorrow.

De Vries is a renowned percussion and marimba specialist and is on a national mini-tour, where she also is visiting Knysna and Port Alfred.

Tomorrow’s collaboration features various works for wind orchestra, such as Holst’s Suite No 1

for Concert Band and Marquez’s Danzon No 2 with the three-piece Alfred Reed’s Concertino for Marimba and Winds being the centrepiece of the show.

NMMU lecturer Gareth Williams – who also is conductor of the wind symphony orchestra – says plans to collaborate with De Vries have been ongoing since 2010 and they have just been waiting for the right time to initiate it.

“Magda and I have worked together several times over the years; she was even involved in the TwoTone Mandela Bay Fest of Sound that Ulagh Williams and I organised in 2010.

“Ever since then we have been talking about performing this piece [Reed’s Concertino] and we have finally found the right time. It has not been performed on South African stages yet, so it will be an exciting premiere for Port Elizabeth,” Williams said.

De Vries boasts an extensive classical music background, having worked alongside international acts, such as composer Errolyn Wallen and the Continuum Ensemble, as well as featuring on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune as a guest soloist while living and working in the UK.

A former student of Suzette Brits (Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre), De Vries has won a large range of South African music prizes including two overseas scholarships, which enabled her to pursue postgraduate studies in percussion as the first foreign student at the Tokyo College of Music under Professor Atsushi Sugahara.

While in Japan, she was invited to join Percussion Museum (a resident percussion ensemble in Tokyo), made her solo recital debut, received a Tokyo College of Music study grant and obtained a postgraduate diploma, cum laude.

She also teaches marimba at various schools and universities, such as the universities of Witwatersrand and Pretoria. She says the concert should appeal to all ages and audience members could expect to have a good time.

“Audiences should expect an afternoon of absolutely enjoyable music. On the one hand, it will calm them down, but it will also definitely get their feet-tapping.

“The marimba is a visual instrument and it appeals to all ages. It really will be a fun concert.”

In her musical career, De Vries continues to strive to expand the marimba repertoire by commissioning South African composers and to promote the classical marimba as a full-blown solo instrument.

Williams cites the mixture of wind orchestra and marimba as unusual and hopes that it will inspire innovation among young musicians.

“The combination of marimba and wind orchestra is very unusual and will definitely open people’s minds and ears to how exciting it is to combine instruments that are traditionally not used together.

“We hope this will inspire young musicians and composers to be innovative in their music making, and to always look for new and fresh sounds.”

The concert is at 3pm at the NMMU South Campus Auditorium. Tickets available at the door, from R50 for adults and R30 for pensioners, students and pupils.

For further information contact Gareth Williams, 079-246-8199 or Nicky Bosman, (041) 504-4235, e-mail:

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