Rising Young Stars Chase R145 000 Prizes In National Competition

The crème de la crème of South Africa's classical youth musicians between the ages of 14 and 19 are poised to battle it out for the coveted first prize at the 34th National Youth Music Competition from 9 to 13 October at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium in Parow, Cape Town.

This year, only 19 contestants have been selected, following auditions across the country. They come from the Free State, Eastern Cape, Gauteng and the Western Cape.

On top of the more than R145 000 in prizes, gold, silver and bronze medals; the overall winner will also be invited to perform in a concert at Overstrand Arts in Hermanus. Western Cape finalist/s will be invited by the Hugo Lambrechts Trust to perform at a concert at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium. The best pianist will also be invited for a concert at the North West University in Potchefstroom.

The wind instrumentalists are this year in the majority (eight) followed by piano (seven) and four on strings. Judging by the entries it seems as if the saxophone is gaining popularity among the youth with three saxophonists among the competitors.

"Just being selected for the competition is already an achievement for each of the participants. The competition commands stamina, technical excellence and strong interpretive skill as the youngsters are to compete over four rounds, playing an extensive repertoire of works," says Michael Maas, Founder and Chairman of the National Youth Music Foundation (NYMF).

The youngest two contestants, age 14, are from the Western Cape. There are 12 contestants from the Western Cape, four from Gauteng, two from the Free State and one from the Eastern Cape.

The National Youth Music Competition, presented by the NYMF and supported by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO)and Fine Music Radio, (FMR), caters for classical musicians who are too young to qualify for the UNISA International Music and the ATKV Muziq competitions; or too old for the SAMRO Hubert van der Spuy National Music Competition.

"The distinguishing element of this competition is that the top six finalists are battling it out for top honours with the accompaniment of the CPO at a gala concert on Saturday 13 October," says Maas.

All contestants take part in the first two rounds, after which a maximum of 12 players go through to the third round on Thursday 11 October. The six finalists rehearse their final round pieces on Friday with the CPO resident conductor, Brandon Philips.

The panel of adjudicators consist of Michael Maas (Chairman); Prof Ella Fourie (piano); Mr Vaughan Pietersen (Head of Frank Pietersen Music School, Paarl); Prof Nina Schumann from Stellenbosch University (piano); Prof Corvin Matei (Head of Flute and Conducting at Stellenbosch University); Ms Khanyisile Mthetwa (lecturer in flute at Wits University); Mr John Theodore (piano); Ms Polina Burdukova (strings) and Dr Becky Steltzner (woodwind at the University of Cape Town).

The NYMF's vision is to identify, expose and develop youth music. It, therefore, invites former contestants to serve on a shadow jury, training a new generation of adjudicators. The Shadow Jury chair is Prof John Hinch, flautist and Professor Emeritus of the University of Pretoria.

The finalists' gala concert on 13 October starts at 19:00. Tickets cost R120, R90 for pensioners, students and learners. Bookings can be made at Computicket 0861 915 8000, Shoprite and Checkers outlets, or online at www.computicket.com.

Entrance is free to the first free rounds from 9 to 11 October at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium.

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