Newsletter July/August 2006

 In Newsletter Archive

Newsletter July 2006

Show Boat doing well

News from Nuremberg, where the CPO and Cape Town Opera are currently performing another run of “Show Boat”, is that German audiences are once again giving the production a very warm reception. The standing ovation on the opening night set the tone for full houses and continued enthusiastic responses.

After “Show Boat” ends on 30 July, a number of members of the CPO travel to La Turbie, France, for a gala performance on 5 August of the Scott Joplin opera “Treemonisha” with Alex Fokkens as conductor.

On their return to the Cape, the members of the orchestra take their annual leave before rehearsals start for the Shostakovich Centenary Gala Concert on 31 August.

Johnnie Walker Gold Label Ovations function

The Johnnie Walker Gold Label Ovations fundraising function at the ArabellaSheraton Grand Hotel on 16 June was a huge success. The combination of art, music and good food in glamorous surroundings proved to be a winner.

Artist Dale Elliott completed a painting during the course of the evening and guests had the luxury of being serenaded by a full symphony orchestra while enjoying their supper. The guests also warmly appreciated the performance of the Youth Orchestra before the start of the banquet.

Our heartfelt thanks to our generous sponsors, Johnny Walker Gold Label, as well as the Arabella Sheraton Grand Hotel, Dale Elliott and everybody involved in the organisation of this unique occasion. In total, more than R150 000 was raised and will be put to good use by the CPO and CPYO.

The photographs show some of the people and scenes at the sparkling event.

Resident Conductor for the CPYO

Alex Fokkens, Resident Conductor of the CPYO
We are pleased to announce that Alex Fokkens has been appointed Resident Conductor for the CPYO.

Alex received his Bachelor of Music degree in double bass from the University of Cape Town. After graduating from UCT, he moved to Fort Worth, Texas, where he obtained a Masters Degree in double bass performance and completed additional studies in theory and conducting at Texas Christian University. While at TCU, he was appointed as an adjunct faculty member and served as assistant conductor for the orchestras – conducting the TCU Symphony on several occasions.

From 1999 to 2005 he served as director of orchestral activities and conductor of the Aberdeen University/Civic Symphony in Aberdeen, South Dakota. During the six years of his appointment, he built one of the strongest college orchestra programmes in the region. From 2001 to 2003 he served as the conductor for the Fargo Moorhead Area Youth Symphony in Fargo, North Dakota.
While in the USA, Alex was often invited to act as clinician, judge and guest conductor throughout the American Mid-West. He has also been a guest conductor for numerous orchestras in South Africa.
We welcome Alex in his new role at the CPYO and trust that he will make a positive contribution to the development of the youth orchestra and the education programme in general. We also wish him well for this European début as the conductor for the gala production of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha in La Turbie, France.

Youth Orchestra news in brief

The CPYO and CPYWE had a successful camp at the Good Hope Seminary High School from 16 to 18 June. The conductors were Alex Fokkens (CPYO) and Sean Kierman (CPYWE).
In June, the internationally renowned conductor and music pedagogue, maestro Victor Yampolsky, again worked with trainee conductors Brandon Phillips, Milton Pietersen and Wesley Lewis in master classes. Wesley has subsequently been appointed as the orchestra librarian for the CPYO and CPYWE.
Some of the CPYO members had the opportunity to participate in the SASOL SA National Youth Orchestra Course, while 10 of the members also gained experience though participation in the University of Stellenbosch Chamber Music Festival.
From 24 to 28 July, the development programme undertakes a schools programme. This programme consists of taking a string, wind and brass quintet to schools in an attempt to encourage the playing of orchestral instruments and an appreciation for orchestral music.
Staff news
Christof Spies, bass trombone, will take a year’s unpaid leave in order to further his studies at the Rotterdam Conservatoire. In a message to the Board thanking them for granting the leave, Christof says he is looking forward tremendously to the opportunity to work with Ben van Dijk, one of the most sought-after teachers in Europe. He also confirmed that he would be returning to South Africa and Cape Town to “share my knowledge and experience. There is so much opportunity for development through brass playing and teaching.”
Ian Watson, Deputy Principal, 2nd violins, has resigned. Later this year he will take up a scholarship at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

Our current public relations intern is Monique Davids, a 22 year-old Public Relations Management student from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT). Monique has been playing the flute for four years and she has always been interested in getting to know more about how symphony orchestras work. “I am really excited about all the exposure I’m getting here at the CPO. Working here has been a tremendous eye-opener for me,” she says.

E-mail changes

The e-mail addresses for the management of the CPO have changed. The new addresses do appear on the Contacts page on our website, but for easy reference, here is a list of the most important ones you might need:

Louis Heyneman, CEO:
Sergei Burdukov, Artistic Executive:
Susan Murray, Corporate Affairs and Fundraising Executive:
Ivan Christian, General Manager:
Ursula Badminton, Secretary:
Daniel Neal, Librarian:
Henriette Weber, Development and Outreach Co-ordinator:

In our next edition …

… we will publish among others the promised interview with Artistic Executive Sergei Burdukov. Please send your comments and suggestions regarding our newsletter to Lia Labuschagne at

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