Having a blasting good time
Four teens ready to give plenty of lip and blow their audience away at tonight’s Youth Music Festival
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).