July 22, 2016 Newsletter

 In Newsletter Archive
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Full newsletter: Booking changes, Botha programme and the Spring Season Concerts

Botha, a cancer survivor who has been a Kammersänger in Vienna since 2004, holding one of the most coveted positions in the opera world, is delighted to be back to sing in Cape Town “because I like to share my talent with my fellow South African singers and I love Cape Town and the rest of my country tremendously."

The South African tenor studied in his native country and made his debut in Roodeport, before moving to Europe in 1990, where his international career was rapidly established following engagements in Germany. He sings in all the major opera houses from Berlin to the Metropolitan Opera, and his recordings include CDs of Aida, Elektra, the Verdi Requiem, Die Meistersinger, Lohengrin and Die Walküre.

Goitsemang Lehobye, who sang in Gauteng in a previous concert with Johan Botha, came second in the 2015 ATKV Musiquanto Competition and won first prize in both the Mimi Coertse and Schock singing competitions. She has performed in many operas both in Cape Town and Gauteng and in 2014 and 2015 was invited to sing in Helsinki.

With several prizes to her name, including 3rd prize in the 2015 Neue Stimmen International Competition in Germany, Bongiwe Nakani was most recently acclaimed in Cape Town Opera’s production of Maria Stuarda. She was also awarded a prize at the Deborah Voigt competition earlier this year.

Mandla Mndebele, winner of an engagement offered by Gauteng Opera at the recent Belvedere Opera, recently made his debut in Italy in Cape Town Opera’s The Mandela Trilogy, and will tour the United Kingdom in August and September with the CTO production which is accompanied by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Bernhard Gueller, music director of Symphony Nova Scotia in Canada since 2004, has also been principal conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic, music director of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra and principal guest conductor of the Victoria Symphony Orchestra. He is a frequent guest conductor in Cape Town as well as in Durban and was principal conductor of the JPO; he is known for his sympathetic accompaniment of singers such as Pretty Yende and Elsa van den Heever and violinists such as Joshua Bell and James Ehnes.

Booking for the concert is open now at Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 421 7695 and Computicket outlets countrywide.

Enquiries to luvuyo@cpo.org.za

Welcome Zanelle Britz, our new (ish) double bass tutti player. Zanelle joined the CPO in June, having played as an ad hoc musician while she was completing her post-grad diploma in double bass performance at UCT with Alex Fokkens in 2014 and 2015. She had had much experience, having first played in an orchestra in Bloemfontein when she was 10, and then in the Free State Youth Symphony, the SA National Youth Orchestra, at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, as an ad hoc with the JPO, the Gauteng Philharmonic, Free State Symphony Orchestra, Namibian National Symphony Orchestra, when she was doing a post graduate certificate in education, this after she had been awarded a BA in Media Studies in Bloemfontein…

What made her play the double bass as a career when she had so many choices? Degrees in media and education, and the choice of several instruments from recorder and piano to flute and cello?

“Cello was always my first love,” she says. “I thought it was the best instrument to play in the orchestra because the parts written for the instrument have such a wonderful balance of melody, harmony and bass lines. When I moved to Pretoria in 2010, I found an abundance of cellists and a shortage of good double bass players. I offered to play double bass in the University of Pretoria Symphony Orchestra and soon after many opportunities started presenting themselves to me as a bassist - opportunities I never would have had as a cellist.

“When I made the decision to pursue music as a career with double bass as my instrument, I focused solely on the bass and I had to work very hard and put in countless hours of practise to bring it up to an acceptable standard for the professional industry. It's still a work in progress!”

More important, why did she become a musician when she could have worked in the media or taught? Zanelle is a cancer surviver and faced with life and death at the age of 24 when she became ill with leukaemia in 2010, “you start thinking about what you have accomplished and what you value the most - that I knew I wanted to be a musician. I find so much joy in making music with others and to blend different parts together to form a harmonic whole.

“The day I was diagnosed was the same day I played my first concert with the Johannesburg Philharmonic. Bernhard Gueller was conducting. I went and talked to him because I had played with him at the NYO course a couple of years earlier and had immensely enjoyed him as a conductor. I couldn't do the repeat concert because I was admitted into hospital. And then when I was in hospital a week or so later, I had a phone call from him, wishing me well. I nearly fell of the bed. I can't tell you how much that meant to me. I have such an incredible respect for him. It's something I will never ever forget!

“ I received weekly chemo treatments for about year. The chemo made me very weak and sick and I couldn't do a full time job. Some weeks would be better than others and so playing as an extra for the orchestra or doing others gigs was perfect, because the hours weren't too long and it was just a couple of days at a time and then I could take a week or two off again. The JPO was very understanding and really accommodated me.”

In 2011, Zanelle received a bone marrow transplant and she recovered and continued to play with orchestras and teach music.

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