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Friday, January 8, 2010


Four leading SA composers to showcase specially commissioned works at international competition.

Four leading South African composers will showcase their specially commissioned works in the first round of the Vodacom-sponsored 5th Unisa International String Competition which starts in Pretoria later this month.

Cellists will have the choice of presenting Jozi Dreamtime by Bongani Ndodana-Breen or Elegy: 24 Maraisburg by Paul D. Hanmer, while the violinists will perform either Vice by Matthijs van Dijk or Trapdance by Peter Louis van Dijk.

In order to win over the judges and proceed to the semi-final round, the cellists will have the challenging task to encapsulate the South African stories, emotions and rhythm of the compositions.

Bob Collymore, Chief Officer, Corporate Affairs of the Vodacom Group, says: “It is with pride that the 5th Unisa International String Competition will enrich the experience of competitors through performing music that has been composed by some of South Africa’s best music talents. These young men and women will return home with an addition to their repertoire that will showcase our indigenous music.”

All four pieces have been commissioned by the South African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) for the competition. The South African compositions and other works from the traditional cello and violin repertoire will form the basis of the first and second rounds of the competition. Samro also sponsors a R10,000 prize for the best performance of a prescribed South African violin and cello work respectively.

In his piece, Elegy: 24 Maraisburg, for cello and piano, Cape Town-born Paul Hanmer allows the cello to set the tone, pace and mood. This piece is primarily a vehicle for the cello to showcase its ability to hold a long melisma, as well as demonstrate the richly-varied tonal quality of each of its strings.

Mathijs van Dijk, born into a musical family in Cape Town, has become an active chamber and orchestral musician, composer and arranger. His composition, Vice for violin and piano, creates a sound that begins freely and gradually constricts the performers while speeding up along the way. The music continues with huge contrasts in pace and technical demands, which test the performers’ abilities to keep up.

Father of Mathijs van Dijk, P├ęter Louis van Dijk is an internationally-performed composer. His work for violin and piano, Trapdance, tells a story about the traps of our own making that appear everywhere in life and wait to catch us when we least expect it.

Bongani Ndodana-Breen has written a wide range of music encompassing symphonic work, opera, chamber music and vocal music. Jozi Dreamtime is one of his cello and piano pieces created with a mixture of modern Western slickness and African tradition. The competitors will be tested on how well they can interpret Bongani’s story of Johannesburg’s bustling energy and intoxication while simultaneously, evoking the darkness and loneliness of the big city.

The competitors, who will come from countries such as Norway, France, China, Australia and the USA, will arrive later this month to participate in the international music competition to be held at the ZK Matthews Great Hall, Unisa Main Campus in Tshwane. The competition is the only one of its kind in Africa recognised by the World Federation of International Music Competitions in Geneva, making it a highly prestigious music event.

With a total purse of R890,000, sponsored by Vodacom, the competition promises to be an intense one. Two first prizes of R200,000 each will be awarded to the first-placed violinist and cellist. Second prize will be R170,000; third prize R140,000; fourth prize R100,000 and fifth prize R80,000. Various special prizes will also be awarded.

All rounds, including the two grand finale evenings on February 4 and 5, 2010, will take place in the ZK Matthews Great Hall, Unisa Main Campus. The performance of the finalists, as soloists in violin and/or cello concertos with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by the South Africa-born Conrad Elmer van Alphen, will encapsulate the thrill and prestige befitting the competition.

More information is available from the Unisa Music Foundation at 012 429 3344/3336. Tickets for the first three rounds are available at the doors, while bookings for the final round is through Computicket.