WMF Editorial

The 13th annual Wakkerstroom Music Festival takes place between Thursday 21st and Sunday 24th March this year in picturesque surroundings of Wakkerstroom, Mpumalanga. This year’s festival promises to delight the attending audiences once again with a wide variety of classical music concerts featuring world-class musicians, including emerging artists displaying their professional musicianship and dedication to classical music. The theme of this year’s festival is dedicated to the harmony that music brings us individually and showing our solidarity with artists around the world against the ongoing wars and violence.

We have 20 classical music performances this year in 39 different performances and two gala concerts (on Thursday 21st and Saturday 23rd).

Every year, an overwhelming majority of solo instruments submit concert proposals for consideration to be included in the Wakkerstroom Music Festival programme, and every year, an instrumental theme presents itself. This year, the largest offer of concert proposals was that of classical singers and baritones with solo recitals. No less than eight singers will be performing at this year’s festival. The lyric baritone Christopher Vale will be seen in two concerts – firstly with Winterreise (Schubert) in which he and accompanist Eugene Joubert reconceptualise the idea of a song cycle as a sung-through work, dividing the song cycle of 24 songs into two recitals of 12 songs each. Secondly, Christopher will join forces with lyric tenor Chris Mostert in an English Art Song programme with compositions by Elgar, Britten, and Williams amongst others.

South African-born Dr Christian Bester, now residing in Oklahoma, USA, as Assistant Professor of Voice at the Michael and Anne Greenwood School of Music, will be performing a solo recital consisting of art songs, opera, and operetta. The singing medical doctor and baritone from Johannesburg, Jean du Plessis, accompanied by Sonja van Zyl (piano), will present an art song programme titled Händel to Hahn. Established soprano Loveline Madumo and baritone Thabang Senekal will be performing a variety of charming opera arias, including the incredibly gorgeous “O mio babbino caro” (Puccini) and the instantly recognisable “Toreador song” (Bizet), along with magnificent duets from other legendary operas. Well-known dramatic coloratura soprano Michelle Veenemans hailed as “The Nightingale of South Africa” by the South African media, accompanied by Miroslav Chakarayan (violin) and Rudolf Geldenhuis (piano), will treat the audience to a musical journey of passion and romance with their Gypsy Love Dream concert.

Other highlights of the Wakkerstroom Music Festival include a flute trio with flautists Handri Loots, Malané Hofmeyr-Burger and Bobby van der Watt, promising to be a harmonious journey through the evocative and sublime where the essence of nature and elegance of music merge in perfect harmony. Two solo piano recitals will also feature – Dr. Laetitia Orlandi whose acclaimed artistry and profound musicality will take centre stage, enchanting audiences with her virtuosic performance, and Pieter van Zyl’s concert Extases d’amour pour piano (Ecstasies of love for piano) will be devoted to the music of French composer Gabriel Fauré. Janette Rottcher and Lizanne Barnard, two talented pianists from the picturesque Lowveld region, collaborate to infuse fresh life into symphonic arrangements for piano duets.

The talents of Johan Ferreira, Liesl van der Merwe, and Laetitia Orlandi will recalibrate attention to a popular trio combination of oboe, bassoon, and piano in contrast to the usual construction of the violin-cello-piano trio. Flautist André Oosthuizen and guitarist Thinus Boshoff, both NWU School of Music and Conservatory staff members, will come together in an ensemble, their collaboration offering a variety of North and South American Songs and Dances specifically composed for this instrument combination. Nathalie Roué (classical guitar) and Melissa Witbooi (violin) will take us on a journey through the centuries, embracing the Romantic period’s emotional depth and passion to eventually reach the avant-garde landscape of modern composers. The duo, Naledi Dweba (clarinet) and Annika Burke (piano), chose a repertoire that enlightens love, power, innocence, and responsibility with their concert Opus Fantasia.

As usual, the Wakkerstroom Music Festival hosts a few classical jazz concerts. This year, The Salon Boys from Pretoria Boys High School will play a variety programme featuring from Piazolla to Piaf, and Lizanne Barnard (piano and vocal), together with Tyrone Hinrichsen (double bass), will treat audiences to a Jazz Cocktail mixed with compositions, telling personal stories of life and of love.

The programme and performance summaries for this year’s festival are now available on the Festival’s website at https://wmfestival.co.zaOnline ticket sales are now also open.

Take advantage of the Early Bird discounted ticket prices between now and 18th March by booking your tickets online, or by completing and submitting the Ticket Booking form to bookings@wmfestival.co.za.

The proceeds of the Wakkerstroom Music Festival are put to use in various music outreach programmes around Wakkerstroom. Primarily funds are allocated to the WMF Marimba Band and to maintaining the marimba instruments that have been provided by the WMF to Country College in Volksrust. This year we are planning on forming a new marimba band for another group of children. As always we are in need of funds to support these initiatives. Donations also help to keep our ticket prices low so that we can ensure that performances are accessible to as many people as possible. Should you wish to donate towards the Wakkerstroom Music Festival and become a Friend of the Wakkerstroom Music Festival, please do respond to bookings@wmfestival.co.za and further information will be provided.

We look forward to seeing you at this year’s festival in Wakkerstroom.

Kind regards

The WMF Team