St Benedict’s Head of Music, Marten van Wyk, and clarinet and saxophone teacher, Naledi Dweba, hit all the right notes when they participated in the prestigious Phillip H Moore music competition – securing an impressive fourth place among 12 finalists.
The competition is a highly respected event in the music fraternity. Only the top competitors – those who believe themselves to be ‘musicians of note’ – can compete for gold.
The competition kicked off with 80 musicians participating in the three-round contest. Each candidate performed three pieces of music – up to 45 minutes in length. After tough first and second rounds, only 12 musicians were selected to perform in the finale, which took the form of a gala event. Hosted at Jeppe Girls High School on 31 July, van Wyk and Dweba performed one final piece in an attempt to win the judges’ favour.
The competition is open to all instruments and as such, a variety of musicians are represented, including clarinet, trumpet, and saxophone. The competitors need to select musical pieces that show their technique, musicality and ability. ‘The competition is of an incredibly high standard and generally well balanced. On the night, the audience was treated to accomplished performances from the top 12 finalists. We were delighted to clinch fourth place in our first attempt in this category, and we look forward to future opportunities to display our talent. We also hope that our passion for music will inspire our students to work towards achieving personal growth and excellence,’ said Van Wyk.
College Headmaster, Dave Jeffrey added, ‘This was an exceptional achievement that we’re incredibly proud of. Not only did their participation bring the duo much-recognised acclaim, but our teachers hope to encourage students to get involved in the competition in the coming years.’
The Bennies’ music faculty has had a few musical stars through its doors – all of whom have gone on to achieve notable music careers. Class of 93 alumni, Gareth Rudolph, is one such example. He learnt to play the bagpipes under the late Gary Davies at St Benedict’s. Rudolph then pursued a career overseas where he studied and played and today, he teaches bagpipes at the College of Piping in Glasgow. He’s also a member of the acclaimed Dublin-based St Lawrence O’Toole band, which he was a member of when they won the world championships in 2010.
The Saxby Twins, a local pop duo made up of Kyle and Wade Saxby (Class of 2018) are another great example of alumni achieving music fame. A few Indie Dog members, a local pop band, hail from St Benedict’s. Letlotlo-la-Bakuena (Class of 2020) is a budding DJ whose song uLazi reached just under two-million streams and hit gold earlier this year. The St Benedict’s marimba is an instrument enjoyed by boys from the Junior and Senior Preparatory, and as an instrument, it’s been found to nurture a love of music among the younger boys.
‘We’re really proud of the musical innovation that our St Benedict’s staff and learners continue to display. When it comes to scholastic music offerings, we are definitive trailblazers. We were the very first IEB school to offer bagpipes as a choice for matric music students and this was closely followed by being first out the gate to offer Highland Snare drumming for our matrics. In all we do, we remain inspired to produce music that matters and displays our passion,’ concluded Jeffrey.