The Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival aims to provide talented young South African musicians with the opportunity to study, perform and be inspired by chamber music and orchestral playing at an internationally recognized and professional standard. This ten day long festival puts Stellenbosch University and South Africa on the international music calendar as an event of outstanding musicianship and as a nurturing ground for young talent. This festival facilitates the growth of young musicians and creates opportunities for them to further their music studies, thereby contributing significantly to South Africa’s rich and diverse cultural heritage.


Each year, a select number of top international and national institutions are invited to send representative student groups to attend the festival. A total of approximately 240 international and national participants between the ages of 12 and 28 are divided into a number of chamber music groups. They are assigned repertoire on which they receive coaching from respected international and South African artists and chamber music experts that comprise the festival faculty. They are also given the opportunity to perform in a number of concerts. Tuition is offered in piano, strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion instruments. The festival features public master classes, a new interview/lecture series called “In Conversation with”, and student and faculty chamber music concerts culminating in concerts performed by the Festival Symphony and Festival Concert Orchestras, made up of the festival participants.

International participants who have attended the festival include representative student groups from the Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Graz (Austria), the Hochschule für Musik und Theater (Zürich) and the University of California, Los Angeles (USA), the Universität Mozarteum, Salzburg (Austria), the University of North Texas (UNT) College of Music, Denton (USA) and the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester (UK).

National student groups from tertiary music institutions are invited on a rotation basis. Previous participants have included groups from the University of Cape Town, University of Pretoria, University of the Free State and University of the Witwatersrand.


The Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival is the first and only festival of its kind in South Africa to incorporate both chamber music and orchestral playing/tuition within one festival, promoting and pro-actively developing a love of classical music, especially the increasingly widely appreciated genre of chamber music. The festival’s educational value is unparalleled as it offers students of all backgrounds and various levels of training (the minimum required level is UNISA grade 6 or comparable standard) the opportunity to play and interact with students of international level, while at the same time receiving coachings from some of the world’s best instrumentalists.

Students are also given the opportunity to play in a symphony orchestra under the baton of renowned and highly experienced international conductors. For many of the students who have performed in one of the two festival orchestras, it was their first time playing in a symphony orchestra. Whereas other music festivals and orchestra courses only offer participation in a symphony orchestra consisting solely of participants from South Africa, the Chamber Music Festival boasts both national as well as international participants. As a result, our festival orchestras are of outstanding quality and even our less experienced students are exposed to a superior standard of playing and teaching, benefitting all students.


In accordance with the University’s mission and vision for 2012, the overall aim of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival is encapsulated in the following statement:

To promote and pro-actively develop a deep love of classical music, to help young music talent grow to full potential and to create opportunities for young musicians to further their music studies.

The festival achieves this by:


Creating opportunities for interaction between a broad and diverse spectrum of musicians who participate in a variety of chamber music groups as well as in the festival orchestras.
An extensive community development and partnership programme that exposes talented young musicians and learners from music development programmes to tuition, coaching and personal mentoring from internationally renowned musicians and performers.
Providing budding young musicians with a performing platform that showcases this young talent.
Establishing the Department of Music, Stellenbosch University, as a centre of excellence.

Community Development


Community development forms an integral part of the aims and objectives of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival. Each year, a number of selected music development programmes / music education centres are invited to send students to attend the festival. International and national music students are then assigned to act as mentors to individual learners from the invited music development programmes for the duration of the festival.

Previous student groups from national music development programmes and centres who have participated in the festival include the Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre (Parow), the Khongisa Youth Centre (Empangeni), Bochabela String Project (Bloemfontein), the Buskaid Project (Soweto), the Frank Pietersen Music Centre (Paarl), the MTN Western Cape Music Education Project (Cape Town) and the Indabana Music Project (Cape Town).


Financial support (in the form of full bursaries covering a combination of tuition, accommodation, food and transport costs) is provided to participants from previously disadvantaged communities and students in need of financial support. Apart from the monetary support provided, no further distinctions are made between such students and other participants. The same requirements are expected of all participants and chamber music group divisions are made according to the student’s level of proficiency, irrespective of any socio-economic considerations.