Stellenbosch music festival promises exquisite programme

The music programmes of the 13th Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival’s (SICMF) 10 evening concerts have been announced. Music lovers will have the opportunity to hear exquisite music, from 18th Century works to contemporary pieces.

The festival — the biggest of its kind in Africa — is presented from July 1 to 10 at the Stellenbosch University Konservatorium. It boasts a unique concert series, including music that has never been performed in South Africa. Besides chamber music, the SICMF will also present three symphony concerts.

About 300 music students will attend the 2016 festival where they will receive master classes, lectures and coaching sessions from the 30 faculty members, many of whom are internationally acclaimed musicians.

The programme has six South African premieres, as well as the world premiere of local composer Matthijs van Dijk’s commissioned work, Moments in a Life. It is based on the life of anti-apartheid activist Denis Goldberg, who will appear on stage as the narrator.

In Moments in a Life, Goldberg relates various pivotal moments in his life — his childhood, his time in Umkhonto we Sizwe, the Rivonia Trial, his experiences in prison and the inauguration of former president Nelson Mandela.

Among the other interesting premiere works is Techno Parade by French composer Guillaume Connesson (born 1970), in which Paolo Barros (flute), Ferdinand Steiner (clarinet) and Pieter Grobler (piano) will perform.

Also on the programme is Distant Light, a concerto for violin and string orchestra by Latvian composer Peteris Vasks. Violinist Daniel Rowland will be the soloist, accompanied by, among others, Suzanne Martens and Farida Bacharova (violins), Tobias Breider (viola) and Alexander Buzlov (cello). 

Other works include the String Sextet in A major, Op.48, by Dvorák; Felix Mendelssohn’s String Quartet No.6 in F minor, Op.80; as well as the String Octet, Op.7, by George Enescu.

On Friday July 8 American conductor Kazem Abdullah will lead the Festival Symphony Orchestra in a performance of orchestral music by Claude Debussy and Béla Bartók. Austrian clarinettist Ferdinand Steiner will perform Wolfgang Mozart’s well-known Clarinet Concerto in A major.

The SICMF’s other orchestra, the Festival Concert Orchestra, comprising 180 young musicians under the baton of Daniel Boico, will perform on Saturday July 9. On the programme is Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s Second Symphony (excerpts), as well as well-known orchestral works like the Mars and Jupiter movements from Gustav Holst’s The Planets, and the popular Pomp and Circumstance by Edward Elgar.

For the final concert on Sunday July 10 the Festival Symphony Orchestra will be on stage again. This time acclaimed French violinist Nicolas Dautricourt will be the soloist in Camille Saint-Saëns’s Violin Concerto No.3.

Tickets are available from Computicket, or call 021 808 2358 to purchase a festival pass. Visit for more information.

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