Meeting all challenges in a Covid situation, Artscape and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) with the support of the City of Cape Town (Municipality), have ensured that the 49th Western Cape Youth Music Festival Concert, will be celebrated this year. This annual event gives young, exceptionally talented classical music instrumentalist and singers the opportunity of performing with an orchestra on a professional stage. It is a highlight of the classical music calendar.

As it was not possible to have the traditional live auditions, musicians were invited to submit online videos of the work they would play at the concert.  The criteria was that they are bona fide music students, performed at a very high standard, and were resident or studying music in the Western Cape.

Nine extraordinarily talented musicians were selected to perform with the CPO, conducted by Brandon Phillips. The concert is approximately 80 minutes long and has been  recorded for Artscape’s YouTube channel and Fine Music Radio (FMR). In preparation of the recording, the soloists received individual, comprehensive sessions with Brandon Phillips and the orchestra. FMR will broadcast the concert on Sunday 13 December between 3pm and 5pm and Artscape YouTube streaming is online from 13 December 2020. Access is free.

Included in the programme are the following works : Mozart Piano Concerto, Weber Bassoon, Albinoni Oboe, Poulenc Piano, Bruch double concerto, Rachmaninoff Piano, Saint-Saens Cello and Brahms Piano.

The soloists are Cameron Williams (age 23) on Clarinet who will perform a duet with Stéphane Lawrenson (23) on Viola, Nicola McLachlan (21) on Cello, Eléna Monvoisin (10) is the youngest, plays the Oboe and Liam Slabbert (18) Bassoon.  There are four pianists; Daniel Brodie (20), Jacqueline Choi (18), Rosemarie Lemmer (22) and Ying-Shan Tseng (18) who is unsighted will perform a piano concerto with the orchestra. All musicians have won many awards, accolades and notable examination results.

The adjudicating panel, Alastair Cockburn (Artistic Co-ordinator), Brandon Phillips, (Resident Conductor of the CPO), Aviva Pelham (well-known Opera Star Director /Educator) and Daniel Neal (CPO Librarian and adhoc Cellist for the CPO) viewed the audition video recordings, projected on a large screen, giving each applicant the same opportunity to present their work.

For Louis Heyneman, CEO of the CPO, The Western Cape Youth Music Festival Concert has been one of the most important launching pads for many young musicians and an integral part of its mandate to be an orchestra for all, serving all facets of the community. ‘Several of those young musicians over the years have become members of our orchestra as well as others in the country.  Several more are ad hoc musicians engaged by the orchestra, and many have over the years come through the country’s most advanced youth education and development programme managed by the CPO and which includes the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and CPY Wind Ensemble.’

CEO of Artscape Dr Marlene le Roux states; ‘It is indeed a miracle that we could turn Artscape around with the assistance of our Associated Companies. From the beginning of the pandemic, we immediately realised that we needed to keep the building and the Arts Relevant. I thank the Provincial Government, the City of Cape Town and National DSAC for assisting us with their proactive attitude to keep the doors open and our stages safe.  More than ever the World needs the Arts to give hope, purpose and meaning in extreme uncertain times. Arts once again demonstrates that you can be an artist of relevance without fancy technology. The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, during this period has done ground-breaking work.’

‘Through our social networking, the Youth Music Festival Concert will have the opportunity to be seen globally, profiling the incredible talent and world class philharmonic orchestra we have in the Western Cape.’