Newsletter October 2005

 In Newsletter Archive

Newsletter 04 October 2005

Orchestra News

Our Trio Of Leaders

The CPO can now draw on the talents of three outstanding musicians to lead the orchestra – and they are all ladies!

Due to family commitments, Alla Shubinsky recently requested to be relieved of some of her duties as concert master, although she wished to remain actively involved with the orchestra.

An innovative solution to the challenge of finding a suitably qualified person to lead the busy, multifunctional CPO was found when Farida Bacharova and Suzanne Martens agreed to alternate as concert master. This allows both of them to retain their teaching jobs as Associate Professor and head of the strings section at the SA College of Music (UCT), and senior violin lecturer at the Conservatory of Music at the University of Stellenbosch respectively. Alla Shubinsky stays on as deputy concert master and will also occasionally lead the orchestra.

This arrangement means that the CPO is indeed in the unique position to draw on the talents of three of the best violinists in the Western Cape for this key role. We wish our excellent “trio of leading ladies” well in this important task.


The orchestra is currently very busy and there is also a packed and varied period ahead. After the Spring Concert Season ended on 8 September, they participated in the Heritage Week centenary celebrations of the inauguration of the Cape Town City Hall on 22 September with a programme of light music, ranging from the Beatles to the local hit musical District Six, as well as music from Broadway and the movies.

Then followed this year’s Die Burger Kerskonsert (an annual fundraising concert) on 25 September in the Opera House at Artscape. This programme consisted of light popular music and was presented in association with Die Burger newspaper.

The opera and ballet seasons starting in October also mean that the orchestra is involved in some major productions at the Artscape Centre during October: Cape Town Opera’s production of Bizet’s Carmen (season lasting from 24 September to 8 October) and Cape Town Ballet’s production of the ever-popular Cinderella. The ballet starts on 4 October and the orchestra will be playing at select performances only – check our website or that of Artscape for more details.

On 13, 14 and 15 October the Orchestra once again plays a program of light classical and light music in an orchestral extravaganza presented in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Constantia. These charity concerts take place at the Baxter Concert Hall.

The Summer Symphony Season
On 27 October the short Summer Symphony Season starts at the City Hall with a line-up of internationally known soloists under the baton of Victor Yampolsky, who is well-known to Cape audiences. Mr Yampolsky studied violin with David Oistrakh at the Moscow Conservatory and orchestral conducting with Nicolai Rabinovich at the Leningrad Conservatory. Before he emigrated to the United States in 1973, he was assistant conductor of the Moscow Philharmonic under Kirill Kondrashin. He has enjoyed a vibrant international career as guest conductor of top orchestras in North and South America, Europe, Australasia, South Africa and Russia. Today he holds posts as professor of music and director of orchestras at Northwestern University, Illinois, music director of the Peninsula Music Festival in Wisconsin and music director of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra in Nebraska.

The soloists for the three-concert series include the noted South African pianist Tessa Uys, who plays Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 on 27 October. Ms Uys is an Associate of the Royal Academy of Music in London and well-known for her recordings for the BBC’s Radio 3.

On 3 November the Australian-born Andrew Joy plays the Horn Concerto No. 2 by Richard Strauss. Mr Joy is today known internationally as one of the masters of the modern horn as well as the valveless baroque and natural horns.

The final concert on 27 November includes the Cello Concerto by Elgar performed by the French cellist Jérôme Pernoo. He has been acclaimed in Europe, Russia and the United States as one of the leading cellists of the younger generation.

Further details about the programmes for the Summer Symphony series are available elsewhere on our website.

Watch This Space…

In addition to all the current activities, we will soon be in the position to announce two highlight events that will happen before the end of this year. Watch this space – we will keep our readers informed about these special plans.

We Talk To Louis Heyman, CEO of The Cape Philharmonic

What are the greatest challenges of managing a modern symphony orchestra?

In a world full of electronically generated audiovisual pleasures, a symphony orchestra is not the powerful and inspiring musical experience it used to be. All over the world, symphony orchestras have to deal with the challenges of the 21st century, financially and aesthetically. If a business doesn’t make money, the owners close it down. We as orchestras cannot make money – but we dare not close the business. So we have to be inventive in many other ways.

What is the difference between running a symphony orchestra and running a business?
There’s the rub. There shouldn’t be a difference. A symphony orchestra is about people and not products. A business is often about products and not people. But both are in the end about people – and both should make business sense.

The modern media made music a household commodity and we should use that to our advantage. But this means we have to be competitive, in many ways, with all the marvels of our digital society. Television, movies, pop music, sport and the Internet are all commodities competing on a financial and time basis with us.

What does it take for a symphony orchestra to become recognised for the standard of its performances?
Top musicians and commitment to quality. Obviously, we cannot compare with the best that say Europe can offer. But we can be a multifunctional orchestra that is on a par with Western cities of the same size and with similar recourses.
Does it take a large staff to manage an orchestra?
There are more people involved in the management of the New York Philharmonic than in our entire orchestra. The more marketing personnel you have, the bigger the projects you can tackle. For the moment, we operate with the bare minimum of staff and we cope because it is a dedicated team that understands that an organisation carrying too much fat will not survive very long.

Are you satisfied with the size of the audiences we are getting?
No. And I expect that I never will be. South Africans are spoilt by our wonderful climate, beautiful nature and so many other things to do. There is nothing wrong with a huge interest in sport, but I do wish South Africans demonstrated that same level of interest in serious cultural pursuits such as music.

Are you confident about the future of live classical music in South Africa?
As long as people are people, the performing arts and the urge to express ourselves artistically will be part of our nature. We have to harness that urge and create enough opportunities for artistic expression to ensure that music – all music – survives.

It must be expensive to run a full-sized symphony orchestra. Does government fund you?
More than two thirds of our operating costs come from grants and donations. The irony is that 69% of these grants and donations come from public funding. Corporate and private funding form a mere 31% of this income. What message is thus conveyed by corporate and private funders?

What do you do at the CPO to keep up with the times?
Frankly, in our modern world nobody can really keep up entirely with the times. There are too many fields of expertise, too many new things happening all the time. The only thing you can do is to keep your ear on the ground – to listen and look around you and try and learn as fast as you can. Real leadership is also about believing in yourself and sometimes taking a chance on a gut feeling. If you lead from the front, others have to keep up with you. Hopefully you have chosen a useful path worth following.

The orchestra’s group of loyal volunteers is called Friends of Orchestral Music. The Friends’ work is aimed at supporting the orchestra in many ways through fundraising.

They fund additional musicians, soloists or conductors for select concerts and have also established a Trust which is used to help young and promising musicians from financially disadvantaged backgrounds. Through the Trust these young musicians, are assisted to study overseas, attend master classes or participate in similar opportunities. This important activity supports the orchestra’s empowerment and community involvement objectives.

Another outreach activity aimed at special interest groups is to support schools, pensioners who do not venture out at night, or simply people who cannot afford the ticket prices for the evening concerts. These individuals are invited to attend the open rehearsals on the morning of the concert at a minimal charge.

The Friends of Orchestral Music’s fundraising activities include selling wine before the concerts and during intervals. They also host receptions after concerts for conductors, soloists, musicians and the members of the Friends. Non-members are welcome at those functions, but are charged a small fee to attend these receptions.

The fundraising activities also include selling CDs and branded memorabilia such as sweatshirts, t-shirts, wine bags and shopping bags. The Friends keep their own expenses to a minimum so that the optimal amount of money is made available for investment in their projects.

The Cape Philharmonic is grateful to its team of enthusiastic friends and we salute their efforts to support our objectives and activities.

In one of our future editions, we will publish an interview with Mrs Gaby Dahl, CPO Board member and Chairperson of the “Friends”.

Should you want to become a member of the Friends of Orchestral Music, you could talk to them when next you attend a concert. Alternatively, contact their secretary, Francisca Louw, at or (021) 461 8312

In Our Next Edition…

… we will be discussing some exciting new projects. Please send your comments and suggestions about the newsletter to Lia Labuschagne at Your feedback is important to us.

Subscribe to our Newsletter
Get the latest content and news about upcoming concerts first.
We will respect your privacy.