The classics of choice

2009-07-16 00:00

MARITZBURG music lovers will be able to hear for themselves the astounding talent of teenager Jacqueline Wedderburn-Maxwell, when she performs with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra at All Time Top Classics in the city hall on July 23.

The 15-year-old Durbanite, who is headed overseas in September to study violin at Trinity College London, will be performing one of her favourite pieces, Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto 1st Movement with the KZNPO.

“There are so many voices in it, so many characters,” she explained, “it becomes part of you. You learn it so well that it’s like family.”

Her ‘Maritzburg performance comes hot on the heels of her success in the recent Unisa National String Competition, where she finished second behind Avigail Bushakevitz from George.

The competition ended on July 3, with the finalists performing with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Netherlands conductor Arjan Tien, who made his first appearance in South Africa in 1998 with the KZNPO.

First prize was R50 000, second prize R35 000 and third prize R20 000, and all three finalists qualified to compete in next year’s Unisa International String Competition. Wedderburn-Maxwell also received the R5 000 Samro prize for the best performance of a South African violin composition.

She found the experience exhilirating. “I love competitions and I really work well under pressure. And, because I have learned the pieces so well, I can really enjoy them and share that enjoyment with others.”

Wedderburn-Maxwell, who won the 2008 Artscape national youth music competition prize and the prize for the best concerto performance with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, practises for four to five hours every day.

She began playing the violin at the age of five. “When I was four, we went travelling in Turkey and I saw this Chinese violinist — it might have been Vanessa Mae — on television and I said to my mom that I wanted to play the violin ... it took me a year, but I eventually got her to agree to let me.”

That determination has stood her in good stead, helping her to win a place at the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin School for Gifted Musicians in Surrey, England, when she was 10 years old, and it will certainly help to make her stay at Trinity College easier.

“It’s hard to leave South Africa because it’s an amazing place, but this is such a great opportunity and I can’t wait to take advantage of it,” Wedderburn-Maxwell said.


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