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National Youth Music Competition Continues Record Streak


This is the biggest number of contestants ever in the contest's 37-year history.

National Youth Music Competition Continues Record Streak

Scheduled to run from 6 to 11 December 2021 at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium in Parow, Cape Town, a new record number of 27 upcoming young musicians have been selected to compete over four rounds for the coveted title, the R155 000 cash and gold, silver and bronze medals.

This is the biggest number of contestants ever in the contest's 37-year history. They were selected from a record number of 45 entrants from across the country. It is the only South African music competition where the six finalists get the opportunity to perform with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO).

Last year's competition had to be cancelled due to the global Covid pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.

"This year, we are surging ahead with the contest. In line with Covid regulations, we have appointed a health professional to ensure the safety of participants, their parents, teachers and audience members alike," says Michael Maas, chairman of the National Youth Music Foundation (NYMF).

Due to Covid regulations, the number of people allowed to attend the Gala Concert on Saturday 11 December 2021 will be limited.

"The entire concert and award ceremony will be streamed free on the NYMC website. People can just click the streaming button on the homepage of the NYMC website (," Maas emphasises.

The NYMC has been described as one of the most gruelling music competitions for young musicians between the ages of 14 and 19 years in South Africa. It commands stamina, technical excellence and strong interpretative skills. The contestants will play an extensive repertoire of works from different style periods.

During the previous contest in 2019, some 137 works were performed by 19 participants. It took more than 24 hours, spread over the four rounds of the competition.

All contestants take part in the first two rounds, after which a maximum of 12 players go through to the third round on Thursday 9 December 2021. The six top musicians then do their battle under the accompaniment of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) at a gala concert on Saturday 11 December 2021 with CPO resident conductor, Brandon Philips on the podium.

This year's competition has attracted entrants from five of the country's provinces. They have been selected following video auditions by a panel of music experts. The 27 contestants are from the Free State, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

The Western Cape rules the roost with 12 candidates followed by Gauteng (8), KwaZulu-Natal (3), Free State (2) and one from the Eastern Cape. There are 11 different instruments at play. (Please find the full list at the end of this report).

The two youngest competitors (14) are from Paarl in the Western Cape. The majority of rising stars (21) are in the 17 to 19 year age range. This year, two of the contestants are studying overseas. For both, it will be their second shot for the sought after title.

There are 12 pianists, four violinists, two flautists, clarinettists and cellists. The rest of the pack consists of an alto saxophonist, a bassoonist, a French horn player, a percussionist who plays the marimba and xylophone, an oboist and a viola player.

The competition is the flagship of the National Youth Music Foundation (NYMF). It was founded by Chairman Michael Maas 37 years ago in Port Elizabeth.

"The foundation has broadened the exposure of these rising stars over the past two years, presenting various concerts where former competition prize winners performed as soloists. Called, the Young Artists' Concert Series, the concerts surpassed all expectations, attracting packed houses," says Maas.

"The popularity of the live streaming has grown over the past four years, increasing the competition's reach internationally.

Entrance is free to the first free rounds from 6 to 9 December at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium. Entrance will be strictly limited due to Covid restrictions.

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