Following the delights of the first Chamber Music Festival in Harare last year, festival founder Colbert Mpofu has forged ahead with the second edition despite the challenging economic environment.
By Rosie Mitchell
Running from August 31 to September 2, this year’s very pleasant venue, generously provided by the American Embassy, is Hoyle Field in Chisipite. Additional assistance for this year’s outreach programme is being provided by the Salzburg Festival. Outreach events will be held at Chitungwiza Harmony Music School, Musicamp at Peterhouse School and with Kidzcan at the children’s cancer ward, Parirenyatwa Hospital. Concert tickets will be sold at Dandaro and Alo Alo from August 20.
Returning for the second festival is the delightful South African pianist Elna van der Merwe who featured prominently last year. Studying piano and organ at the University of Stellenbosch, she is much sought-after as both soloist and accompanist, and is frequently called upon to accompany high-profile classical musicians from all over the world who go to South Africa to perform. She is also regularly invited to accompany South African musicians on tour elsewhere in the world, and is the accompanist of choice at various annual national music competitions in South Africa. She also plays with organist and pianist Zorada Temmingh in their well-known piano duo The Blondes. Arranging classical and light music in innovative medleys for two pianos, this entertaining duo regularly feature in South Africa’s most prestigious arts and music festivals and tour internationally, as well as performing at major private functions.
Also coming from South Africa is the extraordinary young Chinese clarinettist, Junnan Sun. Principal clarinettist in the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, Sun went to live in South Africa in 2003 when his diplomat father was posted to the Chinese Embassy. Aged 13, speaking no English, he initially struggled to settle, turning to his love of classical music for solace. His lost passion for the clarinet was re-ignited. In 2006, entered by his teacher in the ABSA National Youth Competition, he scooped Best Woodwind Performance. Over the next five years, he won the Lubner Solo Music, Unisa South African Music Scholarship and Phillip Moore Music Competitions, and in 2011 as overall winner of four South African music competitions, won the Unisa Overseas Music Scholarship Competition.
When his parents returned to China, Sun remained in South Africa. Graduating from the University of Pretoria with his music degree, he proceeded, with two scholarships, to the Royal College of Music (RCM) in London, attaining his Masters in Performance with Distinction. He was overall winner of the RCM Concerto Competition and won the RCM Rising Star Award in 2013. In 2014, he won the RCM Clarinet Prize and RCM Savage Club Prize for best performance of a concerto, as well as first prize in clarinet at the Stockholm International Music Competition and Outstanding Young Artist Award from Jiangsu Province, China. In 2015, he scooped the top ATKV-Muziq Trophy, plus Best Woodwind Player and Best Rendition of a Classical Piece. His prestigious performing career sees him at venues such as the Berlin Konzerthaus, London’s Royal Albert, Royal Festival and Cadogen Halls and St Paul’s Cathedral, and in South Africa as soloist with the KwaZulu-Natal, Johannesburg and RCM Philharmonic Orchestras and the South African National Youth Orchestra.
Also featuring at this year’s festival are Peter and Suzanne Martens, prominent South African cellist and violinist respectively. Neither are strangers to Zimbabwe, having performed here multiple times at both the Harare International Festival of the Arts and the Bulawayo Music Festival. Peter Martens studied at Stellenbosch University, the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the University of Cape Town.