Performing on the grand stage

Liam Slabbert

Two Durbanville teens got the chance to perform alongside the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra for a concert which will be streamed online on Sunday December 13.

The performance, which is part of the 49th Western Cape Youth Music Festival, was pre-recorded at the Artscape Theatre because of Covid-19 lockdown regulations.

Liam Slabbert and Jacqueline Choi, both 18, were among nine young artists from around Cape Town who each had an opportunity to showcase their skills.

Jacqueline, who plays the piano, said she enjoyed playing alongside the orchestra yet she did miss playing for a crowd.

“What I love most about music, is that it is a way to express myself without using words so not having the audience was a bit of a challenge in that I was unable to tell how they are receiving the message of the music, however, without the audience, I was able to communicate more with the conductor and that gave me a sense of freedom.”

Jacqueline has been playing the piano for 12 years and in 2017 was awarded top prize in the Johann Vos Music Competition, an annual music competition that awards young artists in a variety of categories.

She is currently studying physiotherapy at Stellenbosch University but hopes to continue her love affair with music.

“I plan to continue playing music professionally and I hope that after I complete my current studies, that I can study music. I really do enjoy performing and while I played classical with the orchestra, I also enjoy playing jazz and I have also entered a singing competition.”

While the recording was the first time Jacqueline played alongside the orchestra, for Liam it was the second time in as many years.

During the 2019 edition of the same festival, Liam, a bassoonist, performed alongside the orchestra and also won the award for best woodwind performance.

The Grade 11 Durbanville High School pupil, said: “I used to play the recorder, and then eight years ago, my music teacher introduced me to new instruments and the bassoon drew me because I felt that it was a fun instrument.”

Liam said he enjoyed performing without an audience as it helped him to focus more on playing the proper notes, allowing for a cleaner performance.

“I feel that I am a natural performer and the crowd is a major motivator for me. My favourite music to perform and listen to is romantic classical, because I think it is a beautiful genre but I like to think that I have a diverse love for music as I can listen to jazz while I am also a sucker for rap music.”

Liam has also started playing the cello and his heart is set on studying music in the future.

Louis Heyneman, chief executive of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, said that he is excited about Sunday’s performances as the festival serves as a platform for many young musicians.

“Several of those young musicians over the years have become members of our orchestra as well as others in the country. Several more are ad hoc musicians engaged by the orchestra, and many have over the years come through the country’s most advanced youth education and development programme managed by the orchestra.”

The performance will be streamed on Fine Music Radio and the Artscape YouTube Channel on Sunday December 13, from 3pm.