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.
Acknowledged as one of South Africa’s leading musicians and teachers, Mario Nell is a senior lecturer at the University of Stellenbosch. He
studied at the Universities of Port Elizabeth and Stellenbosch before he completed his master’s degree in performance at the University of Cape Town and a PhD at the University of Stellenbosch. Also holding a UPLM from Unisa, he was the winner of the Unisa Overseas Music Bursary Competition. From 1999-2001 he furthered his studies at the Staatliche Hochschule für Musik in Freiburg, Germany. From 2006-2007 he also studied for his Nachdiplom at the Zurich University of the Arts in Switzerland where his main focus was on historical performance practice.
He won first prizes in all the major music competitions in South Africa. This includes the National Youth Music-, ATKV Prelude and Forte-, Mabel Quick-, Oude Meester- and Unisa Overseas Music Competitions. During his periods of study abroad he also distinguished himself in several important international competitions including a top prize at the Calgary International Competition with performances in Germany and Hong Kong.
Since he made his debut with the SABC Orchestra in 1993, he has appeared as soloist with all the major orchestras in South Africa. Since 1999 he gave recitals in Germany, Switzerland, France, the Netherlands, Czech Republic, Italy, England and South Korea. He was also invited as guest professor at the national University of the Arts in Seoul, South Korea, in 2002 and 2003.
Besides a busy performance schedule as soloist, accompanist and chamber music musician, he is an active teacher and his students have been the overall winners of all the major music competitions in South Africa, for example the Sanlam-, Artscape-, Artstrust Piano-, Mabel Quick-, Samro -, Grahamstown National-, Unisa National Organ-, ATKV Muziq and Unisa Overseas Music Bursary Competitions. From 2010-2014 he received the University of Stellenbosch Rector’s prize for excellence as teacher. He is often invited to give masterclasses and as juror for music competitions and serves as examiner for Unisa music examinations.
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.
From Lady Macbeth to a Pop-up Toaster, Lizz Meiring has played everything! Lizz has received 19 awards as an actor, director, writer, for service to the arts and a
lifetime achievement award. She has also been nominated for a further 18 awards. In 2019 Lizz celebrates 35 years in the Entertainment Industry.
Lizz made her professional debut at the age of 9, in CJ Langenhoven’s “Die Vrou van Suid Afrika” directed by Anna Neethling-Pohl. Hereafter she performed in several productions for the semi-professional “Pretoria Theatre for Children”, as well as making her TV debut in 1976 on the teenage TV programme “Gateway”.
Since completing her studies (BA Drama Hons) at the University of Pretoria in 1983, Lizz has never been without work for a single day, on the contrary she is often busy multi-tasking as many as 6 productions at any given time. Her impressive body of work includes: more than 5000 functions (as MC or Guest Performer); 284 TV productions; 28 movies; 214 scripts, directing and producing projects; 346 theatre productions; 12 published works and a DVD.
She is known for her unforgettable, painstaking enthusiasm in the different sectors within the arts, which she loves with all her heart, and these include her roles as actress, theatre director, producer, dramaturg and playwright, voice artist, TV- and film scriptwriter, theatre and TV presenter, copywriter, translator (Afrikaans, English and French), fiction and youth romance writer, arts journalist, columnist, creative consultant, speaker and master of ceremonies, guest lecturer, arts advisor, registered qualified auctioneer, and self-proclaimed arts junky!
She strives to enhance the lives and careers of established as well as new artists through entrepreneurship, self- sustainability and job creation in both the performing- and visual arts.
Apart from a guest appearance (as herself) on Villa Rosa, and writing a pantomime for their Christmas episode, Lizz has never appeared in a Soapy.
Even after all of this, Lizz has an insatiable appetite and genuine love for the entertainment industry, and there is no end in sight.
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).