Young musicians compete in national competition

Jaime Azariah van Zyl, 8, from Table View plays the violin. PICTURE: SUPPLIED


Five young aspiring musicians from Tabletalk’s distribution area are among 48 participants in the 2023 Hubert van der Spuy National Music Competition.

There are 21 participants from the Western Cape; five from KwaZulu- Natal, 19 from Gauteng province, one from the Eastern Cape and two from Namibia.

The competition takes place from September 26 to September 29.

The youngest Western Cape participant, Jaime Azariah van Zyl, 8, from Table View plays the violin; 9-year-old Regina Wu from Bloubergstrand plays the piano, Siqi (April) Lin, 10, from Sunningdale also plays the piano, Shiloh Chifamba, 13, from Parklands plays the violin, and Zimeng Li, 13, from Milnerton Ridge, plays the piano.

The Hubert van der Spuy National Music Competition is organised and presented by the Tygerberg branch of the South African Society of Music Teachers (SASMT). The first competition took place in 1989. Professor Hubert van der Spuy, former chairperson of the SASMT (Tygerberg branch) and widely respected music educator, inspired the competition.

SASMT says the competition is currently the only one of its kind in South Africa and offers a unique opportunity for children aged 13 years and younger to compete against their peers from all across the nation. Several previous winners of the competition have not only gone on to study music at tertiary level, but have also in turn become critically, or even internationally acclaimed performers and educators themselves.

SASMT chairperson, Hilda Boonzaaier, said the programme demanded of participants to maintain a standard of excellence, while providing them with a platform from which to gain invaluable performance experience.

She said the competition seeks to foster a positive environment in which the musical community of educators, their students and parents, can share ideas and support for one another.

“We are utterly thrilled with the number and quality of entries received for this year’s competition. The audition panel found it quite challenging to elect 48 participants only as the standard of playing was so high. We wish everyone the best as they prepare for this exciting event,” she said.

Jaime Azariah, who prefers to be called Azariah, as he believes it’s the name best suited for the stage, started playing the violin when he was only 4 years old.

His proud mother, Karen van Zyl said Azariah was awarded the Maggie Theron cup at the Stellenbosch Eisteddfod for the best primary school pupil in 2022 and 2023, as well as the Lona Antoniadis cup for the highest percentage in the junior category award for 2023.

She said he is also a participant in the Concerto Festival, which will be held in August.

Ms Van Zyl said Azariah enjoys composing music with his older brother, Jehoshua, 9, who plays the cello, and they often perform together at the Ruyterwacht Senior Centre to entertain the elderly and to showcase their talent.

Siqi (April) Lin’s mother Evelyn Gallo, said her daughter has been playing the piano since she was 6 years old, and she is extremely proud of her daughter. “As parents we are grateful for the opportunity for her to learn about persistence and the rewards of hard work.”

Siqi says the competition is something nice for her to achieve this year and she is both nervous and excited.

Zimeng Li, 13, bagged the Gold plus Eisteddfod award in 2017 and 2019 at Stellenbosch; a Gold Diploma and Walter Grandner Gold Medal Eisteddfod in 2021; and passed her music theory and performance exam with distinction in 2022.

Zimeng has been playing the piano since she was 6 years old.

Her mother, Charlotte, said Zimeng surprises her all the time with her determination to excel in everything she does.

Ms Li said Zimeng plays netball, and suffered a minor fractor just weeks before she had to write the music theory and performance exam, yet, Zimeng continued to practise and managed to pass with a distinction, which she says is truly inspirational.

Zimeng Li, 13, from Milnerton Ridge, plays the piano. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
Siqi Lin, 10,from Sunningdale plays the piano. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
Shiloh Chifamba, 13, from Parklands plays the violin. PICTURE: SUPPLIED
Regina Wu, 9, from Bloubergstrand plays piano. PICTURE: SUPPLIED