Saturday 26 May 19:00
Moravian Church Genadendal
R150 - tickets available at Computicket or at Tourism Info Greyton
The premier concert of the Classics for All festival features the talents of soprano Brittany Hope Smith, Selim Kagee (South Africa’s premier classical crossover artist) and the Cantique Chamber Choir, accompanied by pianist Philippus Hugo and a 6-piece band consisting of Visser Liebenberg (clarinet), Maja van Dyk (viola), Myles Roberts (flute), David Bester (violin), Eddie McLean (cello) and Shaun Cloete (trumpet). BIOGRAPHIES BELOW
SPONSORED BY THE RUPERT FOUNDATION
Selim Kagee, South Africa’s premier classical crossover artist, described as part Bocelli, a smidgen of Groban, with a slice of Pavarotti and a bead of Bublé - he is fast putting his inimitable signature on a sound the world continues to love and support.
Selim has made his debut into the world of classical pop music after being signed to the international label EMI in 2012. He has subsequently released his debut album ‘Cry For Love’ (Piango D’Amore).
His stellar 12-track album of contemporary classical pop music has been a work and dream that has evolved over the past 20 years for the Cape Town born and-raised musician.
"I’ve always had a great desire to perform and express myself creatively” Kagee admits. Supplementing his artistic streak, Kagee dabbled in sculpture, drawing and graphic design – the latter becoming his formal profession. Backtracking 15 years, Kagee’s burning desire to perform led him to a youth drama group. “I was the oldest student there,” he recalls with a smile. “I was 19, and all the other students were school going age, but I didn’t let that distract me. Six weeks later we performed a skit to a small room of 20 or 30 parents. From that moment the performance bug bit hard.”
A gap year in the UK followed, and while staying with an uncle, Kagee made quick work of immersing himself in every style of music he could. “I bought a few singing training CD’s and with serious determination I decided that I wanted to learn to sing,” he recalls. “I sang for five hours every day, and became obsessed with wanting to sing.”
It wasn’t until his return to South Africa in 2001 that Kagee found a vocal coach in the late Jean Stuart (a retired opera singer) who, in his words, “taught me to sing. She took me under her wing and trained me from scratch for over a decade, giving me countless hours of vocal training at the piano. Her dedication to my growth and her belief in me was priceless. I realised that besides a bit of inherent talent, singing is a technique that could be learnt if one has a strong desire. I continue to grow and learn as a singer and musician, but if wasn’t for Jean I don’t think I would have found my true voice.”
His album, Cry For Love (Piango D’Amore) is dedicated to her legacy.
By 2002 Kagee began auditioning, and was soon accepted for lead roles in theatre productions such as The Sound Of Music, The Boyfriend, Annie Get Your Gun and many more. “It was a great learning ground to perform onstage with an orchestra,” he recollects. “With all the exposure to live performance and singing I knew that I had the aptitude, but I wanted and needed to carve out my own voice.”
In 2009 Kagee signed up for a song-writing course and began taking guitar lessons with respected songwriter and producer Clive Ridgway, who recognised the marketability of his voice, and before long the two embarked on a journey of recording a few demos that culminated in EMI Music signing Kagee to the international label as a classical pop artist.
His album consists of an eclectic mix of original compositions and interesting interpretations of popular gems, peppered with pop, classical and cinematic influences – all giving Kagee’s voice the opportunity to showcase its warmth and sincerity.
They include songs co-written with Ridgway and recorded with the Cape Town POPS orchestra.
"It´s not very often that a new artist gets to record with an orchestra, but we all realised that this was the right way to capture the music authentically." says Kagee.
Classic Feel magazine described him as “an impressive new, proudly South African addition to the adult contemporary and crossover fields of which these four greats (Bocelli, Groban, Pavarotti and Buble) are among the most well-known exemplars”. Die Burger Newspaper agreed, calling him “Cape Town’s own Bocelli”. Audio Video Magazine said, “His voice is fluid, rich, well trained and easily able to perform the lovely romantic, ballad style he has chosen.”
Selim’s live show boasts an impressive 28-piece orchestra with dazzling virtuoso musicians that provide a high quality of musicianship combined with outstanding showmanship. Songs include O Sole Mio, Il Mondo, Parla Piu Piano (The Godfather theme song), Charlie Chaplin’s Smile, and his anthem-like original English / Italian title-track Cry For Love, all cleverly woven through interesting and humourous anecdotes of his life.
Highlights of his career thus far include recording a duet with Irish supergroup Celtic Woman on their 2012 Christmas Album, singing the South African anthem in Australia and performing live at the Sergo Franchi Memorial Concert, an open air event held in Connecticut, USA in August 2014.
Enchanting at every turn, Selim Kagee’s fans can rest assured he’s locking down for the long haul with nothing less than the very best his God-given voice can muster.
BRITTANY HOPE SMITH
Brittany Hope Smith is a BMus graduate in Opera at the South African College of Music at UCT under the tutelage of Professor Virginia Davids. She was first introduced to opera as a learner at Rhenish Girls' High School by her teacher and opera singer Sonja van Amstel.
In 2013 she was cast in the chorus of the UCT Opera School’s production of Don Giovanni by W A Mozart and in the same year was awarded the Ruth Ormond Prize for the Most Promising First Year Female Opera Student. In 2014 she performed in the chorus of Il viaggio a Reims by G Rossini and last year debuted in her first singing role as Cherubino in UCT Opera School’s production of Le nozze di Figaro by W A Mozart.
Brittany’s dream to sing with an orchestra as a soloist was realised at the age of 21 with her successful audition for the 2015 Artscape/CPO Youth Music Festival. She was selected as one of 9 for the Les Azuriales Opera Festival where she competed and also took part in their Falstaff Reduced opera, in the role of Nannette. Brittany was also the winner of the Shock Foundation Opera Competition in the Female Classical Section for 2016. She debuted with Cape Town Opera last year as Pamina in W.A Mozart's, Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), with great success.
Brittany is currently doing her second year in Post Graduate Performance Diploma in Opera and is employed by Cape Town Opera in their Young Artist Program. She recently received a nomination for the 53rd Fleur du Cap Awards for Best Female Opera Singer for 2017 for her role as Pamina in Cape Town Opera's The Magic Flute. Brittany is currently working on her role as Adele for AGL Opera's Die Fledermaus, which will be performed at this year’s Suid-Ooster Fees under the direction of Raimondo van Staden and conductor Johannes Slabbert.
Philippus Hugo obtained the degrees B.Mus, B.Mus(hons) and M.Mus (Cum Laude) in piano performing from the University of Stellenbosch under the guidance of Juliana de Villiers. He makes his solo debut with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra at the age of 16. During his student years, he regularly performd as soloist with the CTPO, Natal Philharmonic, Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra and the Hugo Lambrechts Symphony Orchestra.
In 1992 he was appointed official accompanist at the Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre, a post he held for 5 years before accepting a teaching post at Rustenburg Girls school. After teaching for 5 years he was appointed as accompanist at the University of Stellenbosch in 2001, where he still works as part time accompanist.
Since 1994 until 2010 he was the official accompanist for the ABSA National music competition in Port Elizabeth and performed as accompanist for the SANLAM music competition in Cape Town. He is a regular accompanist for the ATKV Musique, Artscape Competition, UNISA gr8 and Overseas Bursary Competition as well as freelance accompanist for national arts festivals like the KKNK, KKK, Darling Voorkamerfest and the Greyton Genadendal Classics for All Festival.
In 2011 he was asked to perform with the American singers Kennethia Mitchell and Lawrence Craig Jr at the annual Maputo International Music Festival. In 2012 and currently he is the official accompanist for the Muziquante Competition. In 2012 he was a guest artist at the Harare Music Festival in Zimbabwe.
Philippus Hugo is also a chef and he and his partner run the well known Driefontein Farm Restaurant in the Overberg.
CANTIQUE CHAMBER CHOIR
The Cantique Chamber choir is made up of sixteen voices from the Robertson Valley under the baton of Jaco Beeslaar, a local music teacher and organist. All the members are amateur singers and come from varied careers. Cantique mostly sings works from the Classical repertoire and in April 2013 they performed at the Klein Karoo National Arts Festival. Later that year they performed Haydn’s Nelson Mass with the St George’s Singers and the Cape Town Philharmonic under the direction of Dr Barry Smith at the Klein Karoo Klassique in Oudtshoorn. In 2014 and 2016 they appeared at the Greyton and Genadendal Classics for All Festival for the first time with “Vocal Alchemy” – a collection of choir works through the centuries. More recently they collaborated with the Ewens Trio of Robertson with their highly successful programme ‘Affaire Française’. This concert was dedicated entirely to the music of Gabriel Fauré with the main work his hauntingly beautiful Requiem in D minor.
David Bester lectures at Nelson Mandela University in Port Elizabeth. He studied under Alissa Margulis (Belgium) and Suzanne Martens (Stellenbosch) – all made possible by generous grants from the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, National Arts Council of South Africa and the Dutch Consulate in Antwerp, among others. David has performed with the Cape Town-, KwaZulu Natal-, and Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestras, Chamber Orchestra of Namur, and the Amici Quartet. His playing and teaching style was shaped by lessons with Pavel Vernikov, Ivry Gitlis, and Pinchas Zukerman.
Eddie McLean Born in Cape Town, Eddie grew up in a family of musicians. He started learning the cello at the age of 7. His first encounter with chamber music was at home, playing with his parents Alan and Marianne, and his sister Helen (currently resident veterinarian at River Valley Clinic in Robertson). While still at school Eddie appeared as soloist at the 1995 and 1998 Youth Music Festivals. While remaining active in music, Eddie completed a B.Sc Degree majoring in Mathematics at UCT. On completion of his studies, he was invited to join the Sontonga String Quartet, performing inAustralia, the US, Germany, Slovenia and the Netherlands. In the same year he was invited to lead the cello section for a performance of Britten's Death in Venice. As co-principal cellist of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Eddie has performed extensively at home and abroad. Recent solo performances include Hendrik Hofmeyr's cello sonata at the Baxter Concert Hall, and a recital for the Richard Wagner Society.
MAJA VAN DYK
Maja completed her BMus IV degree at the University of the Free State in 2015, specializing in Viola Performance and Orchestral Studies. Maja has won numerous awards from i.a. Overberg, Helderberg and Stellenbosch eisteddfods and she performed regularly at Prizewinning Concerts; in 2011 she received the trophies for Best Violist and Best Bach performance at the Stellenbosch Eisteddfod. She passed all her UNISA exams above 80% and in 2011 won UNISA’s national Grade 8 bursary competition.
Maja has taken part in several chamber music festival courses: Franschoek (2005, 2006), and Stellenbosch (SICMF) (2006-2011, 2013, 2015). She has been a member of the MIAGI Youth Orchestra (2009-2014) and the South African National Youth Orchestra (SANYO) (2009, 2010, 2012, 2013). Maja has also played in ensembles/orchestras such as the Free State Youth Orchestra (FSYO), the Free State Symphony Orchestra (FSSO), and the Bloemfontein and Stellenbosch City Orchestras. She was invited to tour with the Zurich Chamber Orchestra (ZKO) on their South African tour during January 2013 (with SANYO).
Her leadership experience includes several years (2009-2015) as Viola principle and -rotating principal in various youth/amateur ensembles and orchestras. Maja also performed as viola soloist in the concerto festival of the Free State Symphony Orchestra (FSSO) and viola soloist (in Mozart's Sinfonia Concertante) in the SANYO Advanced Strings orchestra. In 2015 she was a finalist in the ATKV Muziq competition. In September 2015 she toured New York City (USA) as part of the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra (YPhil), and she is also a member of The World Orchestra (TWO) and toured with them in February 2013 (RSA), November 2013 (Spain), March 2015 (Lebanon), and August 2016 (Spain).
Since her return to Cape Town in November 2015 she is freelancing for the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, the Stellenbosch University Camerata and numerous other ensembles and projects. She is the co-teacher and -music arranger of Handevat Marimbas in Kleinmond, and at the end of 2016 she was also a substitute violin teacher for the CPO Masidlale Project in Cape Town.
Flutist Myles Roberts began his tuition with Vesna Milakovic, before completing his Bmus and Mmus at the Stellenbosch University with Prof. Corvin Matei. While in SA, he won a number of prestigious awards and was awarded a Lafin headjoint for most outstanding flautist at the Galway Festival in 2015 where he also had classes with James Galway. He moved to Milan in 2015 to study at the Civica Scuola de Musica de Claudio Abbado with Raffaele Trevisani, assisted by the Oppenheimer memorial trust, and now is preparing for further travel overseas. Whilst in South Africa Myles is busy with chamber music and solo performing projects.
Visser Liebenberg is a versatile clarinet player and part-time clarinet lecturer at Stellenbosch University. He earned his Bachelor of Music and Master of Music, in clarinet performance, at Stellenbosch University Conservatorium. As a free-lance clarinetist, he actively performs as a soloist, chamber musician and an ad-hoc clarinet player for Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic and Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. Visser has a predilection for performing newly commissioned clarinet compositions, of all genres, written by South African composers. Visser and Sulayman Human, an established clarinet and piano duo, performed at numerous events and concert venues in the country. In 2015 Visser premiered the South African Composer, Kristi Boonzaaier’s Concertino for clarinet and orchestra with the University Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra (USSO). He received musical guidance from imminent South African teachers and was invited to be tutored by international clarinetist, Ferdinand Steiner (Austria). Visser has attended the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival (SICMF) yearly since 2007 as clarinet student where he has performed and worked with international and national faculty members.
Shaun Cloete started playing the trumpet at the age of 11. He is a member of the Genadendal Brass Band and the tutor of the OKOSI Project. Shaun has been involved in the teaching of the art of brass music to learners in the Overberg area since 2000. In 2008 he formally started the first brass development initiative. Currently the OKOSI Project involves more than 100 learners from 8 schools in Genadendal, Greyton, Bereaville, Caledon, Tesselaarsdal and Riviersonderend. Shaun is currently studying a Trinity College London Certificate at the University of Stellenbosch.