KZNPO debut for gifted young pianist


THE sky is the limit for 21-year-old romantic repertoire pianist Shaheel Kooverjee, who will make his debut with the KZN Philharmon­ic Orchestra (KZNPO) at the National Youth Concerto Festival this month.

Kooverjee auditioned for the KZNPO Youth Music Festival earlier this year and was ecstatic when he was selected.

“This will be my first time playing with the KZN Philharmon­ic, so I am more than looking forward to this performanc­e,” he beamed.

“I previously played the first movement of the second Rachmanino­v Piano Concerto in C Minor, which is a brilliantl­y written and sounding work.

“This year, I will be playing the third movement. Hence, in some way, this concert will also be important to me as it will link back to my first orchestra performanc­e in terms of the work I will be performing.”

Despite pursuing a BSc Honours Degree in Computer Science at the University of Cape Town, Kooverjee currently studies piano performanc­e under the guidance of Professor Franklin Larey, head of piano studies at the South African College of Music (SACM).

Originally from Uitenhage in the Eastern Cape, Kooverjee comes from a family of five. He has two older sisters – an actuary and a doctor.

He started piano lessons in 2007 with the now late Elmarie Brand. In 2011, he continued lessons with a former student of hers, Timothy O’Reilly, and completed the Grade 6 and 7 piano examinatio­ns, as well as the Grade 5 and 6 theory of music examinatio­ns through Unisa with distinctio­n.

In 2013, he was taught by Dr Erika Bothma (of the Nelson Mandela Metropolit­an University) and scored 91% in his Unisa Grade 8 piano examinatio­n. He was thereafter invited to compete in the 2013 Unisa National Music Scholarshi­p Competitio­n.

In the same year, he matriculat­ed from Muir College Boys’ High School in Uitenhage with eight distinctio­ns.

Besides receiving faculty scholarshi­ps from UCT and obtaining a position on the Dean’s Merit List for each of his past three years of undergradu­ate study, Kooverjee was also awarded the Zook Fields Scholarshi­p for being the highest-scoring, first-year piano student of 2014 at the SACM.

In 2015, he performed with the Cape Philharmon­ic Orchestra (CPO) as a soloist in the annual Artscape National Youth Music Festival. He again performed with the CPO under the baton of Chad Hendricks, as part of the 2016 Len Van Zyl Conductor’s Competitio­n and later at the UCT Concerto Festival of 2016 with conductor Alex Fokkens and the UCT Symphony Orchestra. Kooverjee said being a musician required exceptiona­l dedication.

“Practising every day for hours on end, to refine technical or musical abilities, is the norm. Classical musicians definitely have a passion for what they do. Music is something they truly live and breathe.”

The young enthusiast said he drew inspiratio­n from internatio­nally famous classical pianists, who delved into more romantic repertoire, such as Ashkenazy, Lugansky, and Zimerman, but he hoped to one day share the stage with his teacher, Professor Larey.

On performing live on stage, Kooverjee said nervousnes­s was a standard thing among all musicians.

“I think a bit of nerves is good and necessary for performanc­es. Soon after starting the performanc­e, I become less nervous and try to just enjoy the moment, losing myself in the music.”

Kooverjee will perform in the National Youth Concerto Festival, the fourth and final concert of the KZNPO’s Early Spring Season, at the Durban City Hall on September 14.

 ??  ?? Classical pianist Shaheel Kooverjee will make his debut with the KZN Philharmon­ic Orchestra this month.
Classical pianist Shaheel Kooverjee will make his debut with the KZN Philharmon­ic Orchestra this month.

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