“It’s very important for young people to find a forum to see other young people work as hard as they do,” said Hans Potgieter, pianist and head of school at the Central Academy of Music in Bloemfontein.
“It’s very important for young people to find a forum to see other young people work as hard as they do,” said Hans Potgieter, pianist and head of school at the Central Academy of Music in Bloemfontein. Potgieter accompanied Thapela Masita who came third in the tertiary section of the competition for his violoncello performance of the second and third movements of Debussy’s Sonata in D Minor. “Competitions like these are important because they also prove that there’s talent everywhere,” he added.
“When you’re on stage, that’s when you grow,” says Mariel Ilusorio, international concert pianist and founder of the Rising Stars Competition, which has grown into the National Grahamstown Music Competition. “You also have the chance to develop your potential through the competition,” she explained.
But getting to a competition stage is not simple. Some of the challenges Ilusorio faced while trying to sustain the competition included trying to encourage young people from underprivileged backgrounds to also participate – but it was not easy as transport and instruments are costly.
For instance, Ingrid Janse van Rensburg, whose daughter Vivienne came first in the senior category of the competition this year, spent more than R10 000 transporting her daughter’s harp – just under two metres from top to bottom – from Johannesburg.
Other costs include transport and accommodation for contestants who came from as far away as Pretoria and Stellenbosch to compete in the 2012 National Grahamstown Music Competition.
The expense of mounting a reputable competition is also costly and organisers of Grahamstown’s music contest rely heavily on the generosity of various contributors.
Rhodes University provides the use of its music department and the Beethoven Room venue; Unisa contributed the first prizes in all three sections; Lee Gold (the East London music store) donated three prizes. Local music enthusiasts have underwritten specific prizes too. And a team of 30 volunteers, along with coordinators, teachers and parents continue to play a key role in the competition’s annual growth.
“We’ve done our best to make it warm and rigorous but friendly,” says Priscilla Hall, vice chairperson of the Grahamstown Music Society and coordinator of the competition.