National Youth Music Competition continues record streak

Milhaila Porter, 17, from Pinelands, John Smith, 17, from Wynberg, NYMF chairman Michael Maas, and Kyrah Adams,14, from Paarl, enjoying a joke in the run-up to the 2021 National Youth Music Competition (NYMC).

A new record number of 27 upcoming young musicians have been selected to compete over four rounds at the 36th National Youth Music Competition (NYMC), from Monday December 6 to Saturday December 11 at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium in Parow.

Up for grabs will be the coveted title, R155 000 cash and gold, silver and bronze medals.

This is the biggest number of contestants ever in the contest’s 37-year history. They were selected from a record number of 45 entrants from across the country. It is the only South African music competition where the six finalists get the opportunity to perform with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO).

Last year’s competition had to be cancelled due to the global Covid pandemic and the ensuing lockdown.

“This year, we are surging ahead with the contest. In line with Covid regulations, we have appointed a health professional to ensure the safety of participants, their parents, teachers and audience members alike,” says Michael Maas, chairman of the National Youth Music Foundation (NYMF).

Due to Covid regulations, the number of people allowed to attend the gala concert on Saturday December 11 will be limited.

The entire concert and award ceremony will be streamed free on the NYMC website

The NYMC is a competition for young musicians between the ages of 14 and 19. It commands stamina, technical excellence and strong interpretative skills. The contestants will play an extensive repertoire of works from different style periods.

During the previous contest in 2019, some 137 works were performed by 19 participants. It took more than 24 hours, spread over the four rounds of the competition.

All contestants take part in the first two rounds, after which a maximum of 12 players go through to the third round on Thursday December 9. The six top musicians then do their battle under the accompaniment of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) at a gala concert on Saturday December 11 with CPO resident conductor, Brandon Philips on the podium.

This year’s competition has attracted entrants from five of the country’s provinces. They have been selected following video auditions by a panel of music experts. The 27 contestants are from the Free State, Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape.

The Western Cape rules the roost with 12 candidates.

The two youngest competitors, aged 14, are from Paarl. The majority of rising stars are in the 17 to 19 year age range. This year, two of the contestants are studying overseas. For both, it will be their second shot for the sought-after title.

There are 12 pianists, four violinists, two flautists, clarinetists and cellists. The rest of the pack consists of an alto saxophonist, a bassoonist, a French horn player, a percussionist who plays the marimba and xylophone, an oboist and a viola player.

The competition is the flagship of the NYMF. It was founded by Mr Maas 37 years ago.

“The foundation has broadened the exposure of these rising stars over the past two years, presenting various concerts where former competition prize winners performed as soloists. Called the Young Artists’ Concert Series, the concerts surpassed all expectations, attracting packed houses,” says Maas.

“The popularity of the live streaming has grown over the past four years, increasing the competition’s reach internationally.”

Entry is free to the first rounds from Monday December 6 to Thursday December 9 at the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium. Entry will be strictly limited due to Covid restrictions.