2010 sees the Youth Music Festival (YMF) celebrating its 39th year with 12 extraordinarily talented young classical music instrumentalists and singers who will perform with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) on Saturday 21 August at 19.30 in the Artscape Theatre.

This annual classical music festival is presented by Artscape and the CPO and serves as a launching pad for young accomplished musicians in playing on a professional concert stage.
South African born Conrad van Alphen (photo), Artistic Director and Chief Conductor of Sinfonia Rotterdam, will conduct the varied exciting two hour programme with musicians selected from over 45 participants in auditions. Their ages range from 10 to 25 years and considered to be amongst the finest of the Western Cape’s young up and coming classical music talent. They include, in programme order :
Samantha van Gysen (15) Violin, Sally Jane Minter (22) Flute, Siphesihle Mdena (24) Tenor, Lynelle Kenned (22) Soprano, Nicholas Bosman (10) Violin, Meyer Scholtz (18) Clarinet, Melissa Tu (17) Piano, Danielle Rossouw (12) Clarinet, Ryan Frank Kierman (20) Trombone, Anele Mhlahlo (18) Violin, Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi (25) Soprano and Lourens Fick (20) Piano.
The adjudicating panel is represented by Alastair Cockburn (Artscape),  Cape Town Conductor George Michie and Ronnie Samaai (Member of the CPO Board of Directors) for all the auditions and Marisa Marchio (Cape Town Opera) for the vocal auditions.
The main criteria for candidates are that they are bona fide music students, that they perform at a very high standard and are resident or studying in the Western Cape.  The age restriction for participants is 23 for instrumentalists and 27 for singers.  Because the emphasis of the festival is a celebration of young musical talent and not a competition, the appeal of the works presented, as well as good variety in the overall programme content, plays an important part in the final selection of these soloists.
Alastair Cockburn said that apart from a few old favourites some exciting new works were presented at the auditions this year, in particular a Violin Concerto by Giovanni Battista Viotti and a Clarinet Concerto by Anton Dimler. Neither of which the panel had heard before.
‘It is a young musician’s dream to perform with a real symphony orchestra’, said Cockburn. ‘There is something so scintillating about such an experience and much of the biggest repertoire and most exciting to listen to and perform is in the concerto field (instrument with orchestra) or in the opera field (voice and orchestra).  Very few ever get this opportunity, even as professionals.  It’s only the top performers that can persuade orchestral managements to “give” them a concert.  A small number of previous participants have made it on the concert stages of the world and these young musicians are most fortunate to be working with an international conductor like Conrad van Alphen.’
George Michie added:  ‘It is encouraging how with each successive year this competition brings to light a new crop of talent of extraordinarily high standard, and is especially rewarding when participants from previous years return to demonstrate increasing levels of virtuosity and maturity of performance.  For the adjudicators, it becomes increasingly difficult selecting the few who will be offered the opportunity to showcase their talents, before an audience, accompanied by the CPO.’
Said Ronnie Samaai, ‘We are extremely encouraged by the number of entries this year and by the standard of performance which is no doubt due to the quality of teaching they receive in the Western Cape.  I have been working on the panel for the past 8 years and it was most rewarding to see a good representation of wind players (woodwind as well as brass) among the entries.’
The inception of the YMF dates back to the opening of Artscape (formerly the Nico Malan Theatre) in 1971. In that year, an orchestra was formed by David Tidboald to service the various performing arts genres (opera, ballet etc) attached to the new theatre centre.  He also had the vision to start the youth music festival concept whereby young instrumental soloists and singers would be given the opportunity of performing annually with a professional orchestra. In 2003, on the initiative of the Artscape Audience Development and Education Department, the Youth Jazz Music Festival came on board and was presented as an extension of the original concept.
This year’s Youth Jazz Festival was held on 18th June and celebrated five bands who since the inception of the mentorship programme in 2005 succeeded against all odds and demonstrated to a broader community the value of a lifetime opportunity. They are ESP Band, The Belhar Music Collective, Little Giants, Touch and The Incredibles. Band members came from areas around the Western Cape.  This year the festival collaborated with the ‘Bavaria Meets Western Cape’ expo 2010 and the jazz ensembles Brassta La Vista from Bavaria, Germany, shared the stage with Artscape’s bands.
Both the Classical and Jazz festivals are generously supported by the Distell Foundation for the Performing Arts.
The classical musical festival is sold out every year with enthusiastic supporters and lovers of classical music so best to book immediately. Tickets cost R60. Book through, Artscape Dial-a-Seat 021 421 7695, Computicket, on linehttp://www.computicket.com and Shoprite Checkers outlets. For more information contact Debbie Damons on 021 410 9915.


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