Appointed Principal Viola in July 2018, Petrus Coetzee studied at the University of Stellenbosch (MMus in Chamber Music with Suzanne Martens), the Vorarlberg State Conservatoire in Austria (Master’s Diploma in Viola) and at the Hanover University of Music, Drama, and Media in Germany, where he completed an MMus in Viola.
It was something of a fluke that Coetzee became a violist. He first learned the violin and the piano, and so it was that he gained orchestral experience as a violinist in the SA National Youth Orchestra and as an ad hoc player with the CPO and Camerata Tinta Barocca. But then, out of sheer curiosity, he took up the viola in his last years at Stellenbosch and was soon hooked. He decided to concentrate on the viola and in 2011 left for Austria, then Germany where he completed two more degrees.
The years in Germany especially allowed him to expand his musical horizons and gain a wide range of experience. In Hanover, he cultivated his love for chamber music by founding the Daphnis String Quartet with three fellow students. The Quartet performed at several festivals in Germany, such as the Heidelberger Frühling and Quartettaffairs in Frankfurt and made it to the semi-final round of the August Everding String Quartet Competition. In Hanover he was also an intern at the North German Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. He became a founding member of Ensemble Reflektor, an innovative chamber orchestra based in Hamburg and focusing on music from the Baroque and Classical eras. Coetzee became versed in the operatic repertoire by playing in the Oldenburg State Theatre Orchestra for two years.
He also attended many summer courses and festivals. Coetzee considers his participation in the Aurora Summer Music Festival Orchestra to be a highlight in this regard, performing the Penderecki Violin Concerto with soloist Sayaka Shoji under the direction of the distinguished composer himself.