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UNISA NATIONAL PIANO WINNERS (article first published : 2007-07-1)

With a powerful performance of the famous Rachmaninov Concerto No 3 in D Minor, 23-year old Johan Botes clinched first prize in the Vodacom 3rd Unisa National Piano Competition in Pretoria on Friday night (June 29).

Second prize in the competition was shared jointly between the other two finalists, 21-year old Esthea Kruger of Stellenbosch, and 24-year old Inette Swart of Pretoria. The third prize was not awarded.

Kruger and Swart each received prize money R30,000 for their second place in the week-long competition. In addition, Swart received the Tessa Uys Bach Prize for the best performance of a Prelude and Fugue by JS Bach in the first round, to the value of R2,000, while Kruger added R4,000 to her winnings with the James Verwey Memorial Prize for the best recital in the third round.

Semi-finalist Jannie le Roux was awarded the Erik and Elsabé Schmikl Prize for the best performance of a Mozart Sonata in the Second Round.

The finals were played in front of an enthusiastic audience at the ZK Matthews Great Hall, Unisa, Pretoria on June 29, 2007.

Dot Field, Chief Communications Officer for the Vodacom Group, said: “The fact that we have such rich talent bodes well for the future of music in this genre in our country. A sound classical background is a prerequisite for musicians to excel in whatever they will do musically in the future.”

All three finalists chose to perform Rachmaninov’s acclaimed third concerto and were accompanied by the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa conducted by the Netherlands-born Arjan Tien.

The finals marked the end of a demanding week of preliminary rounds, during which competitors had to present some two hours of difficult solo piano music entirely from memory. During the course of the week, the field narrowed from 14 competitors to the final three.

The Unisa International Music Competition is a member of the World Federation of International Music Competitions in Geneva. It is the only music competition in Africa to be recognised by the world body and fulfils stringent criteria to do so.

This year’s National Piano Competition is a precursor to the 11th Unisa International Piano Competition which will be held in January and February 2008.




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