Hav­ing a blast­ing good time

Four teens ready to give plenty of lip and blow their au­di­ence away at tonight’s Youth Mu­sic Fes­ti­val

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - GOODMUSIC -

FRESH from their pre­lim­i­nary re­hearsal at Artscape, four teenage sax­o­phon­ists who will per­form with the Cape Phil­har­monic Or­ches­tra in the 2009 Youth Mu­sic Fes­ti­val tonight are in high spir­its. The mu­si­cians are also full of praise for the con­duc­tor, Theodore Kuchar, whom they de­scribe as “very, very pa­tient”.

Known as the Hugo Lam­prechts Sax­o­phone Quar­tet, the four­some from Bel­lville have been play­ing to­gether for al­most a year, hav­ing started their en­sem­ble at the sug­ges­tion of the head of the mu­sic cen­tre which they all at­tend.

Lize van der Merwe (so­prano sax) is the youngest mem­ber at 15. She says: “I be­gan with pi­ano, like every­one does” – then ex­per­i­mented with the clar­inet, fi­nally choos­ing so­prano sax­o­phone as her pre­ferred in­stru­ment in Septem­ber last year.

Like Lize, 16-year-old Jan Retief (tenor sax) has come to the sax­o­phone via the clar­inet, ex­plor­ing its po­ten­tial since Septem­ber last year af­ter hav­ing played clar­inet for four years. One of the more sea­soned per­form­ers of the HLSQ is also just 16 – Ham­man Schoonwinkel (alto sax) – and his name is fast be­com­ing syn­ony­mous with mu­si­cal ex­cel­lence. He has ap­peared as soloist on more than one oc­ca­sion with the Cape Phil­har­monic.

The “old man” of the group is jovial Levi Alexan­der (bari­tone sax), who at the age of 18 is al­ready the founder and di­rec­tor of his own band, The Royal Cru­saders.

“It started as a Christ­mas band, but now we play on a fairly reg­u­lar ba­sis as a church band – I’m very in­volved with com­mu­nity mu­sic pro­grammes.”

Of the four, he has the great­est pres­sure on him aca­dem­i­cally, as he is pre­par­ing to write his ma­tric at the end of this year.

But as Ham­man points out, mu­si­cians have to deal with the chal­lenge of bal­anc­ing school work with mu­si­cal com­mit­ments.

They are all de­lighted with the com­po­si­tion they are re­hears­ing for the Youth Mu­sic Fes­ti­val at Artscape: Holcombe’s Con­certo on Themes of Stephen Foster for Sax­o­phone Quar­tet.

Each player has a rea­son for en­joy­ing it. Jan says: “It’s nice to play a di­ver­sity of tempi, the range is very wide in this piece.”

Lize com­ments, “Each reg­is­ter of the sax has a turn to play in­di­vid­u­ally and shine,” while Levi finds the fa­mil­iar­ity of the well-known themes pleas­ing. As for Ham­man, he rel­ishes the com­bi­na­tion of a full sym­phony or­ches­tra with the in­for­mal, al­most jazzy sound of a sax quar­tet.

Are they ner­vous ahead of tonight’s per­for­mance? Says Lize: “Once you get on the stage and start to play, it’s not so bad. Be­fore that, yes, one does have nerves.”

Levi sim­ply re­marks, “It’s good fun and you just en­joy it” – a view shared by Ham­man and Jan.

The 2009 Youth Mu­sic Fes­ti­val is at Artscape The­atre tonight at 7.30. Tick­ets cost R60. Pen­sion­ers and stu­dents pay R30. Book through Com­puticket or Artscape Dial-aSeat.

MU­SIC MAGIC: Jan Retief (tenor sax), back, with Levi Alexan­der (bari­tone sax), front left, Lize van der Merwe (so­prano sax) and Ham­man Schoonwinkel (alto sax).

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