The Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival has always been a place where the old and the new meet. Whilst Mozart, Brahms and Tchaikovsky remain staple fare, the likes of Gliere, Dohnanyi and Golijov, once foreign to our ears have, thanks to the bold programming of Artistic Director Nina Schumann, become known and even much anticipated at the SICMF. Last year the SICMF boasted no less than seven South African premieres and one commissioned work i.e. a world premiere.
The SICMF has now established a tradition of annually commissioning a living composer to write a new work. Although it is an international festival, the geographical location of the SICMF implies an allegiance to South African composers. Few if any other local platforms can boast such support for South African music in that every year, composers can hear their works performed by a chamber ensemble made up of international stars.
Composers featured in recent years include Matthijs van Dijk, Robert Fokkens, Thomas Rajna (who turns 90 this year!) and Paul Hanmer.
This year the SICMF will feature Neo Muyanga. Born in Soweto, Muyanga grew up singing in local traditional choirs and later moved to pursue studies in the Italian madrigal tradition in Trieste, Italy. No surprize then that for this commission, Muyanga has chosen to include four up-and-coming singers from the UCT Opera School to join an all-star SICMF ensemble for the world premiere of his new work, “Makeda”.
The singers are: Brittany Smith (soprano), Siphokazi Molteno (mezzo soprano), Ongama Mhlonthlo (tenor) and Ntando Ngcume (baritone).
In addition, the SICMF will perform works by the following living composers: Paul Coletti (Scotland), Bernhard Franke (Germany), Jeffrey Wayne Holmes & Kevin Puts (U.S.A.), Osvaldo Golijov (Argentina), Hendrik Andriessen (Holland) and Peter Louis van Dijk (South Africa).
Tickets for the evening faculty concerts (6 to 15 July) have more often than not sold out in years past. Buy tickets early from Computicket to avoid disappointment.