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Pretoria learner’s piano skills triumphed in national competition

Qden Blaauw, 14, of De Tijger in Cape Town, Louis Nel, 17, of Brooklyn in Pretoria and Clara Lubbe, 16, from Monument Park in Pretoria proudly show their winning medals to Michael Maas, chairman of the National Youth Music Foundation. They were respectively placed second, first and third in the week-long 2018 National Youth Music Competition that concluded with a spectacular gala concert on Saturday 13 October at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium in Parow, Cape Town.

A 17-year-old learner of St Alban’s College in Pretoria, pianist, Louis Nel, this weekend palmed in the sought after first prize of R30 000 and the gold medal in the 2018 National Youth Music Competition (NYMC).

He mesmerised a packed Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium in Parow, Cape Town, with his performance of the 1st Movement of the Piano Concerto No 3 in C major by Sergei Prokofiev, accompanied by the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of resident conductor, Brandon Phillips.

Apart from the R30 000 first prize, Louis also won the R4 000 prize for the best performance of a Concerto in the Final Round, as well as the R5 000 category prize in the piano category, which includes the North West University invitation award to the piano category winner to perform in a concert at the 2019 Potchefstroom University concert series.

One of the youngest contestants in the competition, the 14-year-old Qden Blaauw, a learner at Reddam House in Durbanville, walked away with the silver medal and R10 000 for his passionate rendition of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue.

Clara Lubbe, 16, a learner of St Mary’s Diocesan School for Girls in Hillcrest, Pretoria, dressed in a flowing gold gown palmed in the third prize of R6 500 and the bronze medal with her alto saxophone, playing the Scaramouch Suite for Sax and Orchestra by Darius Milhaud. She also took the R4 000 Leon Hartshorne Prize for the best wind instrumentalist.

Now in its 34th year, the NYMC ran from 9 to 13 October at the auditorium. A total of 19 youngsters between the ages of 14 an 19 years, vied for top honours, playing 137 works, including 19 by South African composers in front of nine esteemed judges and a shadow jury, also consisting of nine students from the Universities of Cape Town, Stellenbosch and Pretoria, guided by Professor Emeritus of the University of Pretoria, Prof John Hinch.

The Shadow Jury Prize of R3 000 for the most promising overall competitor who is not a finalist went to the 15-year-old bassoonist, Liam Slabbert of the Durbanville High School. He also won the R2 500 prize for the best performance of a South African Work with his performance of Stefans Grové’s Stamdans in the first round. Liam also received the R3 000 runner-up prize in the category for other instruments.

Other prize winners in the competition that is determined over four rounds were pianist Gerhard Joubert, 16, a learner at Jan van Riebeeck High School and coming from Stellenbosch (the R4 000 Pauline Nossel Prize for best performance of a classical work by a pianist), Ethan Lawson, 17, a homeschooler from Durbanville (the R5 000 Polina Burdukova Prize for the best performance by a string instrumentalist of a work by a Russian composer), Josie McLure, 19, from Walmer in Port Elizabeth and student at the University of Stellenbosch (The Namibian National Symphony Orchestra (NNSO) invitation award for a finalist of their own choice. This award is an invitation to perform with the NNSO in their Concerto Festival 2019 in Windhoek and was selected through the live broadcast of the Finalists’ Gala Concert).

Chairman of the National Youth Music Foundation (NYMF) and founder of the competition, Michael Maas, says the standard of the 2018 competition was exceptionally high. “All contestants make the 1 460 minutes of judging a pure pleasure,” says Maas.

Celebrating their success in the 2018 National Youth Music Competition are Qden Blaauw, 14, Louis Nel, 17 and Clara Lubbe, 16. They mesmerized the packed Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium, performing with the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Brandon Phillips.


Media Enquiries:      

*Michael Maas, Chairman, NYMF, Cell: 083 659 2808

*Frikkie Odendaal, Tel: 082 577 0409 or e-mail: odendaal@afrikom.co.za