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Young cellist repeats teacher’s achievement at jubilee competition

25 Sep 2013

With exceptional performances, the eight finalists brought the SAMRO Hubert van der Spuy National Music Competition to a climactic end in front of a festive audience at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium in Parow on Friday night.  Last on the podium at the silver jubilee of the competition was the cellist Arjen van Renssen (13) from Pretoria, claiming the golden medal and repeating the feat of his teacher, Dr Anzel Gerber, 25 years ago.

Claiming the silver medal was the violinist Neo Motsatse from Rivonia, Gauteng, a student of Jack de Wet, with bronze going to the pianist Simon Fan Wu from Milnerton, Cape Town, a student of Mario Nell.  

The other finalists were Jacqueline Choi (13, piano) from Durbanville; Colette du Toit (12, piano) from Garsfontein, Pretoria; Ah-Young Moon (10, piano) from Stellenbosch; Emily Morgan (11, piano) from Grahamstown; and Alexander Whitehead (12, cello). 

Ashlin Grobbelaar (14) and his teacher Tilla Henkins of Mangaung Strings, Bloemfontein, won prizes in the category for development groups.  Rozay Appollis (14) from Bluedowns, Western Cape, won the woodwinds prize in the same category.

Honorary awards were bestowed on professor emeritus Hubert van der Spuy, who took the initiative 25 years ago to establish the competition on behalf of the SA Society for Music Teachers; and to the doyenne of piano tuition, Claudine van Breda from Pretoria, who had students competing in each one of the 25 years of the competition’s existence.

Two special prizes were awarded in honour of the late Leon Hartshorne, who was passionate about music tuition. These were presented to Megan van der Walt, highest scoring student of a SASMT member, and her teacher, Tiensie-Louise Lategan of Linden, Gauteng.

The national competition for fledgling instrumentalists was introduced in 1989 by the Tygerberg branch of the SA Society of Music Teachers (SASMT).  The SAMRO Foundation came on board three years ago when the original sponsor Sanlam withdrew to pursue marketing realities.

The participants had been selected after auditions in Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Durban and Cape Town.  They competed over two rounds before being narrowed down to 22 semi-finalists for the third round on Thursday and eight finalists for the gala concert on Friday night.  

André le Roux, Executive Managing Director of the SAMRO Foundation, hailed the SASMT: Tygerberg as “constant gardeners of music in South Africa”. He believes that excellence in the arts needs to be cultivated, celebrated and rewarded.  “This year’s SAMRO Overseas scholarship winner in the Western Art Music genre, Jan Hugo, and runner-up, Megan-Geoffrey Prins, were both previous winners of the SAMRO Hubert van der Spuy music competition.”   

Hilda Boonzaaier, chairperson of the SASMT: Tygerberg, said they were extremely proud of the profound artistic development that the competition had shown over the past quarter century and were looking forward to the shaping of many more young artists. 

The category prizes went to Simon Fan Wu (Piano), Arjen van Renssen (Strings), Josh Southgate  (Woodwinds) and  Megan van der Walt (Brass and Other instruments), as well as Ashlin Grobbelaar and Rozy Appollis as the best development candidates.

Best performance prizes were presented to Neo Motsatse (Baroque 1st round), Arjen van Renssen (Classical 2nd round) and Alexander Whitehead (Romantic 3rd round). The best performance for a South African work went to Ah-Young Moon (who won this award last year as well) for the performance of “Makoemazaan” by Peter Klatzow.  She also won the prize for the most promising candidate (ten and younger).   UNISA prizes were awarded to the winners of the various instrument categories.


For more information, email the SAMRO Foundation on samrofoundation@samro.org.za, visit www.samrofoundation.org.za, or follow @SAMROFoundation on Twitter or Facebook.