Hailed as a “complete musician – a sensitive artist and an extremely talented young pianist”, Congyu Wang is an internationally renowned soloist who has garnered acclaim as a recitalist, accompanist and chamber musician.
Born in Singapore, Congyu Wang started playing the piano at the age of 3. He was selected for a scholarship that enabled him to attend the prestigious Ecole Normale de Musique de Paris, where he studied with renowned pianists Jean-Marc Luisada and Odile Catelin-Delangle. He later enrolled in the Schola Cantorum (Paris) to continue his studies with Gabriel Tacchino (who had been Francis Poulenc’s only student). Ever since youth, Congyu Wang has enjoyed phenomenal success in international piano competitions, ultimately winning the Grand Prize in Berlin and Bordeaux. His other prizes include Vulaines-sur-Seine, Lagny-sur-Marne, Merignac, Paris, Jakarta, Tallinn and Cle d’Or Reunion. He was featured in ZaoBao as Singapore’s most promising young artist of the year 2016.
At the Chopin International Piano Competition for Young Pianists in Slovenia 2010, Congyu was awarded 6th Prize.
One of the jury members, François Weigel, believed he should have won, and resigned thereupon in protest. Congyu Wang has since made appearances in over 750 recitals in France, England, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Croatia, Hungary, Serbia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Latvia, Reunion Island, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and other countries. Congyu Wang is a Young Steinway Artist.
Highlights of some of his performances include festival appearances at Château de la Verrerie (France), Ernen Music Festival (Switzerland), the Geza Anda Piano Festival Masterclasses (Berlin), the International Isang Yun Academy (Paris), International Hammer Klavier Piano Series (Barcelona), International Piano Festival (Amarante), Festival Langtang (Reunion Island) and Chopin Fest (Belgrade). His recordings are frequently broadcasted on radios internationally – Radio France, BBC Manchester, Radio Vie, Radio Antena 2, Symphony 92.4 etc.
Congyu Wang has earned a reputation for delivering stunning performances of extremely demanding repertoire. His vast repertoire includes 30 piano concerti, along with the complete solo piano oeuvre of Chopin and Poulenc.
Throughout his training in two of the most prestigious French music academies, he regards conductor-pianist François Weigel, Eric Heidsieck (a student of the late Alfred Cortot) and the renowned pianist Ádám György as his mentors.
Congyu Wang is the Founder and Artistic Director of the Piano Island Festival, Piano Concerto Festival (Budapest). As President of Association des Jeunes Musiciens (Foundation) – he created Piano Island Records (CD Label) as well as Piano Island Artist Management.
The South African pianist and Steinway Artist Ben Schoeman won several awards, including the first grand prize in the 11th UNISA International Piano Competition, Pretoria (2008), the gold medal in the Royal Over-Seas League Music Competition, London (2009), the Standard Bank Young Artist Award (2011), the contemporary music prize at the Cleveland International Piano Competition, USA (2013), and the Huberte Rupert Prize from the South African Academy of Arts and Sciences (2016).
He has given solo, chamber music and concerto performances in such prestigious concert halls as the Wigmore, Barbican, Cadogan, LSO St Luke’s and Queen Elizabeth Halls in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Konzerthaus in Berlin, the Gulbenkian Auditorium in Lisbon, Teatro Vittoria in Turin, the Fondazione Cariplo Auditorium in Milan, the Durban and Cape Town City Halls and the Romanian Athenaeum in Bucharest. He has performed at many international festivals such as City of London, Edinburgh Fringe, Chester, Enescu Bucharest, Grahamstown and Ottawa. As a concerto soloist he has collaborated with several conductors, including Wolfram Christ, Nicholas Cleobury, Carlos Izcaray, James Judd, Gérard Korsten, Theodore Kuchar, Diego Masson, En Shao, Yasuo Shinozaki, Arjan Tien and Conrad van Alphen.
Schoeman studied at the University of Pretoria, the Accademia Pianistica ‘Incontri col Maestro’ in Imola, the Scuola di Musica di Fiesole in Florence and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London with renowned professors such as Joseph Stanford, Louis Lortie, Michel Dalberto, Boris Petrushansky, Ronan O’Hora and Eliso Virsaladze. He obtained a doctorate in music from City, University of London and the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with a thesis on the piano works of the eminent South African composer Stefans Grové.
His solo album, featuring works of Franz Liszt, is available under the TwoPianists label and he has recorded music of Rubinstein and Rachmaninoff with cellist Anzél Gerber. His performance in London with pianist Tessa Uys of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, arranged for piano duet by Xaver Scharwenka, was recorded for broadcast on national television.
Ben Schoeman is a senior lecturer in piano and musicology at the University of Pretoria, where he received the Laureate Award.
Berthine van Schoor is one of South Africa’s finest cellists and is well known for her warm, burnished sound and versatility. She started cello lessons at age 6 with the legendary Betty Pack and studied with Magdalena Roux at the University of Stellenbosch, where she obtained a B.Mus and B.Mus Hons (cum laude) as well as being awarded several prizes and bursaries. She later studied with Prof Heidi Litschauer at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, where she obtained a Konzert Diplom and M.Mus.
Berthine studied and worked in Europe from 1989 to 2000. She was a member of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and a part-time member of the Mozarteum Orchestra, with which she toured all over Europe and Japan. From 1993 to 1997 she was principal cellist for the Philharmonic Orchestra of Bad Reichenhall, Germany. From 1998 to 2000 she lived in Salzburg, taught at several music schools in Austria and Germany, and was a member of the Salzburg Mozart Orchestra, Musici and Pro Musica.
Berthine returned to South Africa in 2000 and founded her own cello academy which has produced numerous excellent students, who are currently studying in Europe and the USA. She is a part-time lecturer at the University of Pretoria and tutor for the University of South Africa Music Foundation community projects. She has received two awards from UNISA for outstanding teaching, as well as being a string specialist music examiner for Unisa.
She regularly performs in solo recitals as well as with her trio Trio Gloriosa for all the major concert series in South Africa and also plays with Vevek Ram (sitar) and Rabin Ram (sarod) in the Indian classical music group East meets West. They have performed concerts all over the country, including at the National Festival of the Arts in Grahamstown and the Cape Town Festival, as well as for the High Commission of India. In 2016, she was given the name Meera by the India community (Meera was an Indian saint poet who sang all her poetry in praise of Lord Krishna, the Hindu god of music).
A career highlight was two concert tours to India in 2007 and 2009, with acclaimed pianist Albie van Schalkwyk, where they performed in nine cities. As a soloist, Berthine has performed with various orchestras in South Africa (e.g. the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra and KZNPO), Austria, Germany and India.
She has organized as well as performed in numerous concerts for foreign embassies (such as the Italian, Norwegian, Hungarian and Austrian embassies, the Alliance Française, the High Commission of India and the South African embassy in Rome), promoting the music of these countries as well as establishing important cultural ties between them and South Africa.
Berthine has been on the faculty of the International Academy of Music in Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, Tuscany, Italy, since 2010. She plays a cello made by Georg Tiefenbrunner, Munich, 1849.
Magdalena de Vries, South Africa’s foremost classical marimbist, has won all the major South African music prizes and international scholarships. After obtaining performer’s licentiate diplomas (with distinction) from both the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and the University of South Africa, two of the most prestigious South African overseas music scholarships were awarded to her and enabled her to pursue postgraduate studies in percussion as the first foreign student at the Tokyo College of Music under Professor Atsushi Sugahara.
As orchestral percussionist, Magdalena has worked with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (Tokyo), attended the 2000 Festival de Musica de Canarias as member of the former Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, and currently regularly works with all major South African orchestras.
Magdalenea won the first prize in the Performing Australian Music Competition in London, May 2001, and was subsequently featured as guest soloist on BBC3 In Tune. In 2003 she formed Duo FourIVTwo with South Africa’s foremost vibraphonist, Frank Mallows. The duo has performed with great success at the Grahamstown National Arts Festival, the Baxter Concert Hall (Cape Town), the Aardklop Festival (Potchefstroom), Northwards House (Johannesburg), Baroque in the Bush (Kruger National Park), the Franschoek Festival as well as the ZK Matthews Auditorium.
Magdalena has performed a large number of world premiéres including works by Errollyn Wallen, Peter Klatzow, Robert Fokkens, Paul Hanmer, Clare Loveday, Alexander Johnson and Hendrik Hofmeyr.
In 2006 Magdalena was invited to perform once again as concerto soloist with COSA and was one of the featured soloists at the RMB Starlight Classics, performing the world premiére of Mozart for Marimba, arranged especially for her. In August 2007 she performed Bartok’s Concerto for Two Pianos and Percussion with the JPO and in September 2009 she was once again one of the featured soloists at the RMB Starlight Classics in Johannesburg. In September 2010 Magda performed the South African premiere of La Folia, Karl Jenkins’ marimba concerto and in March 2011 she shared the stage with Katherine Jenkins at the RMB Starlight Classics in Cape Town. Most recently she performed as soloist with the JFO performing the world premiere of Peter Klatzow’s Concerto for Marimba, Vibraphone and Strings.
As recording artist, she is featured on CDs by Claire Johnston, Denzil Weale, Hannelie Rupert, Ockie Vermeulen, Duo FourIVTwo and Acoustic Moodz. MarimBaroque, released in November 2013, is her 1st solo album.
As adjudicator, she is chairman of the Stellenbosch National Ensemble Competition, and has been on the panel of the Performing Australian Music International Competition in London, as well as the ATKV Muziq. As educator, she lectures marimba at Beaulieu Preparatory School and percussion at the Universities of Pretoria and Witwatersrand and is the percussion instructor for the MIAGI Youth Orchestra. She has also set all the percussion syllabi for the UNISA Directorate of Music practical examinations.
Magdalena is the fulltime marimbist of Duo FourIVTwo and works as freelance percussionist with the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra.
Karin van der Laag started her television acting career at 7 years old in the SABC Christmas production They Came from Afar. She is best known for her role of Maggie in the SABC 3 soap Isidingo for which she won a SAFTA Award for Best Actress.
TV acting experience includes roles in Zero Tolerance, Going Up, Hard Copy, Justice for All, Sorted in South Africa and The Three Investigators for the international market.
International movies include playing Tant Sannie in The Story of an African Farm opposite Richard E Grant. The movie was re-released in USA as Bustin’ Bonaparte. Karin also performed in international movies Les Deux Mondes, Hoodlum and Son, Hey Boy, God is African and short films, The Witness and Hermit Rose.
Karin has an extensive cv in theatre including many musicals. She played Lilly and Miss Hannigan (understudy) in Annie, Fraulein Kost in Cabaret, the Fairy Godmother in Sinderella and the witch in Bietses en Brousels as well as other roles in Boy Meets Boy and Scribble, the Musical.
Karin is an accomplished singer and pianist, receiving a distinction for Grade V Royal Schools Singing exam and a merit award for Grade 8 Royal Schools Piano. Comedy-wise Karin has performed with the likes of Tobie Cronje and Eddie Eksteen in Situation Comedy, My Boetie se Sussie se Ou and So waar as Vet. Other theatre highlights include performing numerous Shakespearian roles ranging from Lady Macduff in Macbeth to Peaseblossom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Drama highlights include playing Natasha in Drie Susters 2 directed by Marthinus Basson and the Fortune Teller in the thriller Amazing Grace.
In 2008 Karin was nominated for the People Magazine’s Crystal Award for Best Actress in a Soap Opera. In 2003 she was nominated for an Avanti Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Soap Opera.
She won the FNB National Vita award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Comedy role and was nominated for another FNB Vita Award for Most Outstanding Performance in Musical Theatre. She also won both the FNB Vita Award and the Fleur du Cap award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
Karin has a Bachelor of Arts degree majoring in Drama and English from the University of Cape Town and a Performer’s Diploma in Speech and Drama. She was on the Dean’s Merit List two years in a row. Celebrity appearances include performances V Day at Emperor’s Palace with Eve Ensler and a run of the Vagina Monologues.
Behind the scenes Karin is a casting director for Endemol South Africa and has cast many television series and films including: Isidingo, Snitch, Mzansi, Zero Tolerance, Ready Steady Cook, Murmer and City S’esla. Both City S’esla and Isidingo have received numerous Golden Horn Awards and Karin received a Golden Horn award for Best Ensemble Cast for both productions.
Karin has trained as a multi-cam director under Raymond Sergeant and has also directed many corporate events including Baswa la Meetse and Women in Water for the Department of Water and Forestry, the Jet Community Awards and the Annual Edcon Conferencefor Blue Moon at the Lost City in 2004. She also directed the opening of the Walter Sisulu Paediatric Cardiac Unit for Blue Moon which was attended by none other than Madiba!
MC work includes the 2004 Edcon Conference at the Palace of the Lost City and the 2008 ABSA conference in PE. Celebrity Appearances include singing at the Isidingo Variety Club Concert at Carnival City in 2000 and the Rand Easter Show, singing at the Sports Trust Function, the Royal Agricultural Show and various Stages of Love Aids Benefits at the Civic Theatre.
In 2009 she was a celebrity presenter for the SAMA Awards at Sun City. Other celebrity appearances were at the Thabo Mbeki Children’s day concert and Heritage Day concert. She baked for Nestle at Gallagher Estate and modeled for Fair Lady at the Fair Lady Lyon Fashion Awards. She has done numerous celebrity appearances for Milady’s and was a Judge at the Avril Elizabeth Home’s Christmas Concert as well as the Weigh Less Slimmer of the year.
After completing his studies in law and language studies, Jannie Du Toit started a career in music.
He writes his own songs and debuted with his solo album “’n Liedjie vir jou” in 1981. This is followed by a series of musicals for the University of Pretoria (Tukkies) as well as many collaborative albums.
Jannie’s albums released are as follows:
Drie-uur in die môre (1987), Palet (1990), Skadu’s (1992), De Kleine Man (1994), Volgende Winter (1996), Geloof Hoop en Liefde (1998), Leeuspruit (2002), Diepverlange (2007), Onderweg (2011), Ligjare (2013), Doep is nie dood nie and Grenzeloos Nederlands (2014), Bonjour Monsieur Brel as well as Kiekies – Lucas se liedjies (2016) – album in collaboration with Thean Kotze.
Jannie shared the stage with the late Christa Steyn for 25 years and collaborated on studio work and as creative performing artists travelling and performing nationally and abroad. During the 1980’s and 1990’s they hosted several workshops for the ATKV, along with other industry professionals, singers and songwriters, such as Lukas Maree. After Christa’s passing in 2012, Jannie worked with several artists on programmes such as CORDON BROERS SE KOSSêrt with Lochner de Kock, GRYS AREAS with Renette Bouwer and BOERNEED SING with Tinarie van Wyk-Loots.
He has also been introduced to the cabaret stage in Stephan Bouwer’s “VAN BERLYN TOT BAPSFONTEIN” and “OP DIE HARTSTOG BOULEVARD”, both with Laurika Rauch. He has also introduced South African audiences to Dutch music, since the early 1980’s.
Doep is nie dood nie, a spoken word, poetry and music programme which is a tribute to Koos du Plessis, debuted in 2014 and played to great success at numerous arts festivals and venues nationwide. Paul Boekkooi reviewed it as follows: “Du Toit besit met sy immer meevoerende stem, sensitiewe vertolking en wydlopende verhoogervaring die sleutels om die tydloosheid van Koos du Plessis te ontsluit”.
In 2016 Jannie debuted two new productions at the US Woordfees (Kiekies – Lukas se liedjies) as well as at the KKNK (Bonjour Monsieur Brel), a production in which he sings songs from the incomparable Jacques Brel in Afrikaans, English, French and Dutch.
In 2018 Jannie released his latest album with songs from his own pen, titled OESJAAR 2018
Ignatius van Heerden, brought up in the town of Ohrigstad, displays his extensive dance training skills in the styles of jazz, ballet and contemporary dance. He successfully obtained several awards and nominations over the last decade, some of which include a Standard Bank OvationAward (2017), SATMAG Award (2017), FNB Vita Award for Most Promising Male Dancer (2004), a Naledi Award Nomination for Best Choreography (2010) and a Merit Award at the National Arts Festival for Excellence in Creativity and Innovation (2013).
Ignatius has worked with some of South Africa’s most prominent dance companies and choreographers, including Robin Orlin, Mark Hawkins, Gladys Aghulhas, David Goldie, David April, Christopher Kindo, Bailey Snyman and Kelsey Middleton.
Opening his talents to the field of theatre, he performed in Odessy, Joseph, Jesus Christ Superstar, Peter Pan, Disney’s Beauty and The Beast, Disney’s High School Musical, Fred Abrahams’ Jungle Book, Madam Zingara, Queen at the Ballet, Romeo’s Kiss, Tango Nights, Swingtime at the Ballet, Moffie and Nataniel’s Combat.
Aside from performing, Ignatius has choreographed numerous commissioned works and was chosen to partake in the FNB Dance Umbrella Choreographic residency. He has created works for the Youth Dance Company of Tshwane, FNB Dance Umbrella, KKNK National Arts Festival, Kmad.com and the Fantastic Flying Fish Dance Co. Ignatius was one of the founding members of move1524 for Stellenbosch University, where he also acted as the artistic director and choreographer. He was commissioned to choreograph a new work for FNB Dance Umbrella’s 20th anniversary, and worked under acclaimed Robin Orlin in Dressed to Kill, Killed to Dress.
With much enthusiasm and incredible passion, Ignatius founded his own dance studio, Iggy’s Dance Academy. He also spent the past few years training, developing and lecturing dance and musical theatre students at Oakfields College.
In 2016 he produced, as well as performed, in the premiere of (The) Last Supper, for which he was nominated as Best Actor in a Play, Best New Choreography and four additional BroadwayWorld.com Theatre Awards.
Under the banner of Oakfields College, his works include 6 Impossible Things, FLESH, J’Zel, Nefelibata, Four, and BEING IN HIS ARMS…THAT’S HOME. NO MATTER WHERE THAT MAY BE. Apart from the above, Van Heerden’s most recent successes include the choreography for Uit die Bloute (dir. by Henrietta Gryffenberg, 2018), as well as the critically acclaimed Nijinsky’s War, which received a prestigious Standard Bank Ovation Award for Artistic Excellence, along with six BroadwayWorld.com, four SA Theatre Magazine nominations and the award for Best Cutting-Edge Production (2017).
I am influenced by my environment and use the human figure as a vehicle through which I portray my concepts, emotions and thoughts”
Ilse works from her studio in Johannesburg and Plettenberg Bay in South Africa. Trained in art and fashion design, she decided to focus purely on art in 1998.
Her work has been purchased by South African companies and government institutions, as well as hotel groups for their entertainment areas.
She received a merit award at the centenary celebrations of her school where she matriculated in the Free State, for her contribution and international recognition in art.
She was commissioned to do a range of paintings on diamonds, including “Blood Diamonds”, and the impact it has on our lives. The series includes a larger than life portrait of Nelson Mandela “Diamond behind bars”. This was done on a black background of metal filings, using an acid catalyst to engrave the image on the background.
She was one of the artists invited to depict the universal suffering of women and children in war, to commemorate the centenary of the Women’s Memorial at the War Museum in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
She participated in the Florence Biennale in 2013 and her work was accepted again for the 2019 Florence Biennale for participation.
She has also exhibited at the Sala Bana Gallery in Barcelona in Spain and a group exhibition in Boston.
She participated in the “Star Sailor” exhibition at “The Viewing Room” in Brooklyn, Pretoria, commemorating the moon landing 50 years ago.