Glencairn Heights musician and composer Avril Kinsey (62) has been awarded a Doctoral Degree in Music (Dmus) Composition for her orchestral two-act ballet, Vulcanus, and nine-movement chamber work, the Fynbos Suite.
Kinsey is also the director of the Cape Town Academy of Music (CTAM) and non-profit organisation Friends of CTAM.
She is the first female classical guitarist/composer in South Africa to be awarded a creative DMus degree in Composition. She graduated at Nelson Mandela University (NMU) in Port Elizabeth recently.
Kinsey says she was amazed when the audience broke into song as she took the stage to be capped. “I just couldn’t believe it! They sang a very powerful and moving song that talked about uplifting women and God guiding women and women being leaders. It was really nice and the audience was amazing,” she says.
Making history as a woman means a lot to Kinsey. “The world of serious classical music composition is mostly, still to this day, dominated by men and especially in the field of orchestral works, so it is an important milestone to have achieved this degree in South Africa. I feel relieved that I have accomplished this, but now the real work begins. Now the focus is to get the project off the ground,” she says.
Kinsey’s 93-minute and 455-page composition portfolio was supervised by Professor Hans Roosenschoon and examined by professors from two British universities. NMU is the last university in South Africa to offer the creative DMus degree, making Kinsey also the last student in South
Africa.This degree, which she did part time, took her three years to complete. “Three years is the recommended number of years. I did this in the middle of the ‘fees must fall’ campaign and thought I would never finish,” she says.
The story of Vulcanus was inspired by Vulcanus, the mythical god of fire and volcanoes, and Leukothea, the mythical goddess of the sea. She composed the orchestral score to choreographic timings provided by the artistic director of the Cape Town City Ballet, Robin van Wyk. The marketing of the ballet for stage performances in South Africa and overseas has begun, with Kinsey speaking to both Cape Town City Ballet and two conductors in London – one with the English National Ballet Company and the other with the Royal Ballet Company. Two movements from the ballet took place before the work was complete. The Vulcanus Overture was conducted first by Naum Rousine with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and later by Alexander Fokkens with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016. Kinsey is currently presenting other movements from the ballet to various orchestras throughout the country for inclusion on their symphonic programmes.