Four talented young musicians from Rondebosch have been selected to take part in a prestigious national music competition.
The Southern Africa Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) Hubert van der Spuy National Music Competition takes place at the Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre, in Parow, from Monday September 25 to Friday September 29.
It is a chance for musicians up to the age of 13 and from all over the country to demonstrate their musical prowess. First held in 1989, the competition is organised by the Tygerberg branch of the South African Society of Music Teachers (SASMT).
This year four of the youngsters who have made the grade are from Rondebosch. They are: brothers David, 11, and Robert Handley, 13, Juliette Roux, 13, and Nadia Fokkens, 13.
Robert, who started playing the violin at age 7 while staying in England with his family, inspired his younger brother, David, to take up the instrument at age 6.
The boys attend Bishop’s Prep and have been taking their lessons and ensemble practices at the school.
Robert attended a week’s residential chamber music workshop in Franschhoek, in 2016 and 2017 which he said benefited his musical career.
“Meeting others with the same love of music encourages us to move to the next level of our music playing. We all want to play well for each other. Entering competitions and doing auditions is very good experience for me as I know that my future is going to be in music, so the more experience the better,” said Robert.
David said his love for playing the violin and his competitive nature had led him to enter the competition.
He performed La Cinquantaine by Gabriel-Marie and Concerto in B Minor by Oskar Rieding. The extra time he put into practising landed him a seat among the competitors.
“I had to work very hard to prepare for my pieces that I played for the audition. I know that I have a lot of hard work ahead of me. I can’t believe [that I was chosen] I am so excited but extremely nervous,” said David.
Like David, Micklefield School pupil Juliette Roux started playing the violin when she was six. This is the fourth time she has entered the competition.
Juliette plays in the Beau Soleil Senior String Ensemble and has been practising six days a week. She said it had been hard work to learn all the pieces required for the competition, but it had all paid off in the end.
“The process is very rewarding, as I believe I grow a lot, not only musically, but also as a person. I think that having such an important event to work for really motivates me. In 2014, I was honoured to win the prize for the most promising candidate 10 years and under.”
Grade 8 Westerford High School pupil Nadia Fokkens decided to play the cello after noticing her older sister stood while playing the violin. She thought it would be a smart idea to play the cello so she could sit down.
“What I didn’t factor in was the huge instrument I would have to transport. But that’s okay, because it’s worth it.”
Nadia has had private cello lessons with Cheryl de Havilland and she also plays in various ensembles at her school. She has been practising for a minimum of one hour a day to improve her skills for the competition which she last entered in 2015.
“My sister, Naomi, came third in this competition in 2015 and I was a semi finalist. I chose my pieces carefully to show different styles of playing, and then I spent a few months learning and performing them at every opportunity.
“The more you play, the more confident you become, so by the time the competition arrives, you are as ready as can be,” said Nadia.