Capetonian Brandon Phillips wins Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition

Capetonian Brandon Phillips wins Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition

The first Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition has been won by Capetonian Brandon Phillips.  Second was Nicholas Nicolaidis and third was Hanrich Claassen. The winner was announced at the end of the Finalists’ Gala Concert in the City Hall on Sunday 7 February. 

The top three finalists each conducted an orchestral work -  (Nicholas Nicholaidis conducted Dvořák’s Scherzo Capriccioso, Brandon Phillips Smetana’s The Moldau and Hanrich Claassen Liszt’s Les Preludes). Thereafter,  each conducted one of the three movements of Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2. with Megan-Geoffrey Prins as soloist.

Although bassoon is his main instrument, Brandon Phillips is a multi-instrumentalist. He hails from Cape Town and started his musical training in the New Apostolic Church. He furthered his instrumental tuition at the Beau Soleil Music Centre and has completed the Diploma in Orchestra Studies and his Honours degree in solo performance at UCT. He is currently Principal Bassoonist of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra. Brandon has received conductors’ master classes from Victor Yampolsky since 2005.

The Len van Zyl Conductor’s Competition is run in conjunction with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra as an initiative to support and develop classical music talent in South Africa.  The competition, which is open to South African nationals under the age of 33 and will take place every two years, is also supported by the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra. A financial trust was created for this purpose by Mr Len van Zyl, who believes that a vital part of keeping classical music alive and well concerns the development of young talent. 

“South Africa has a rich history of musical talent in all branches of music-making and fortunately we also have impressive education and training facilities in many disciplines such as voice, dance, instrumental music and composition. But what seemed to me to be seriously lacking is the ability to train conductors – that very necessary leadership element in all spheres of musical performance,” says Mr van Zyl.

  “I decided to investigate the possibility of doing something in this regard, and after many discussions with knowledgeable friends and acquaintances, and in particular with the co-operation of the management and board of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, the Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition was conceived.”

Three of the six finalists (Johan Grobler,  Wesley Lewis and Brandon Phillips) live in Cape Town, while two (Nicholas Nicolaidis and David Nkosi) live in Johannesburg. Hanrich Claassen currently resides in Shanghai, China.

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