Mendelssohn’s Octet Op. 20 is widely regarded as his finest piece of chamber music; not only that, but it is regarded by musicians and music lovers around the world as one of the finest pieces of chamber music ever written. Why this composition from the pen of a 16-year-old boy is so great is perhaps as much a mystery as it is self-evident. Its maturity way beyond the years of its creator is coupled with a youthful zest for life that is indeed a trademark of Mendelssohn’s works throughout his life.

The work is to be found on festival programmes the world over, and recently the addition of a double bass in some performances has added a dimension that the work perhaps doesn’t need to ensure its continued favour, but nevertheless, a dimension that puts a new string in its bow.

The Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival will feature this work in its opening concert on 30 June in the Endler Hall and a new arrangement that skilfully blends the practice of adding a double bass, but retaining the original eight instruments will be heard – so here is the Mendelssohn octet for nine!

The addition of the bass is obviously done at the whim of bass players who desperately want to be a part of this magnificent piece of music, but despite the motive for such an arrangement being perhaps a tad self-centred… the result is most pleasing for all!

Lovers of this piece should get to the box office early to reserve a seat for Mendelssohn’s octet as played by: Nicholas Dautricourt, Alissa Margulis, Farida Bacharova and Jeffrey Armstrong (violins), Tatjana Masurenko and Xandi van Dijk (violas), Peter Martens and Alexander Buzlov (celli) and Uxia Martinez Botana (bass). Before Interval Daniel Rowland will perform Vivaldi’s concerto Il Tempesto di Mare  RV 253 followed by an all-star SICMF faculty ensemble with Schoenberg’s Chamber Symphony no. 1.

Tickets are available now through Computicket and will be available at the door. For more information about the Festival or to secure your Festival/Day pass for the entire Festival please visit


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