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Local pianists dominate Unisa National Piano Competition

The 6th Unisa National Piano Competition came to a close on 26 July 2019 with four finalists from Pretoria playing in front of a packed ZK Matthews Great Hall.

Thabiso Mfana took top honours in the Jazz Category

Jazz pianist, Thabiso Mfana, opened the evening’s programme with a polished and inspired performance in a trio with Amaeshi Ikechi (upright bass) and Rob Watson (drums). His performance impressed the jury and he was awarded the first prize of R75 000 for the Jazz Category. He became the second jazz pianist in the history of the competition to win the Jazz Category, following in the footsteps of Capetonian Kyle Shepherd, who won in 2015.

Ntando Ngcapu then followed with an energetic and varied programme that included Cole Porter’s Night and Day, two of his own compositions and the prescribed piece We will meet again by Billy Evans.

After the interval classical pianist Lezanti van Sittert played Liszt’s Piano Concerto no. 1 in E flat major with the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra conducted by Maestro Richard Cock.

The last performance of the competition was by the winner of the Classical Category, Willem de Beer. His passionate rendition of Tchaikovsky’s popular Concerto no. 1 in B flat minor brought the competition to a fitting end.

Winner of the Classical Category, Willem de Beer

De Beer joins the ranks of previous winners Mark Nixon, Ben Schoeman, Johan Botes, Jan Hugo and Megan-Geoffrey Prins as one of the best young pianists South Africa has produced.

He has also won a concert tour of South Africa, sponsored by Bryan Wallick/Schalk Visser Concert Promotions.

The second prize in each category was R45 000 and was awarded to Ntando Ngcapu and Lezanti van Sittert.

The best semi-finalists in each category who did not go through to the final round, as voted by the Shadow Jury, were André Breet (Classical Category) and Teboho Kobedi (Jazz Category).

All the finalists have gained automatic entry into the 14th Unisa International Piano Competition, which will take place in January 2020.

Submitted by Alet Venter, Music Events Administrator, Unisa Music Foundation

Publish date: 2019/07/30