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Visit the active LitNet platform at www.litnet.co.za


 
Kennisgewings | Notices

An Exhibition of Music by doyen Stefans Grové


Ina van Rooyen - 2011-09-30

A concert dedicated to the music of the celebrated South African composer, doyen Stefans Grové, will take place on Sunday, 2nd October 2011 at 16:00 in the ZK Matthews Great Hall at Unisa in Pretoria.

This Exhibition of Music is the third concert in recent years showcasing the prolific Grové’s versatility in compositions for a variety of instruments. Three of the six works to be performed are premieres.

In February this year Grové was honoured for his lifelong dedication to music when he appeared on kykNET’s Fiesta Gala in Cape Town.

Grové’s compositions are famous for incorporating African elements and he states in the introduction to the programme, “I feel the heartbeat of Africa in heart and soul.”

Stefans Grové, who is from Pretoria, was one of the first white South African composers to incorporate elements of black African music into his own style, "venturing far beyond mere couleur locale to forge a unique creative synthesis of the indigenous and the ‘Western’ – or European – music”.

His “African” stylistic phase was the result of a Damascus moment when he overheard a song sung by an African street worker. The melody haunted him and inspired the Sonata on African Motives for violin and pianoforte (1984).

Some other works composed in Grové's Afrocentric style are the Dance Rhapsody (1986), Liedere en danse van Afrika (1990), 7 Boesman-liedere for soprano and string quartet (1990), Gesang van die Afrika-geeste (1993), Nonyana, the Ceremonial Dancer for piano (1994), and his Afrika Hymnus I (1995) and Afrika Hymnus II (1996), both for organ.

In the same year Grové composed a piano concerto titled Raka, based on the epic poem of the same title by the great author and poet NP Van Wyk Louw.

Grové first heard a dramatised version of Raka over the radio when he was still a boy. As a student he was privileged to meet Van Wyk Louw and vowed to set Raka to music.

London-based pianist Mark Nixon, having won the First National Unisa Music Competition in 1998, was the chosen soloist to perform the premiere of the dramatic composition, which Nixon chose to describe as a symphonic poem rather than a concerto, in February 1999. His comment on the piano work was, “A new experience for me in playing Raka was the novel way in which Grové incorporated traditional African folk tunes, while not losing the sophisticated framework of a Western-style symphonic poem. This music could have originated from nowhere else than Africa!”

Programme

The concert starts with a first performance of the solo piece for piano, Haunting music for piano, with the soloist being local pianist Inette Swart. She will also accompany flautist Merryl Monard in the only piece from an earlier period, Sonata for flute and piano, composed as early as 1955.

Clarinetist Lizet Smith and pianist Tinus Botha will perform Six mantras for clarinet and piano.

Experienced organist Gerrit Jordaan, well-known exponent of Grové’s organ music, will perform December fragments for flute and chamber organ with Monard, followed by the premiere of Afrika Hymnus III for solo concert organ. Grové composed Afrika Hymnus I for organ in 1995 and Afrika Hymnus II for organ in 1996.

Finally, Conversations for piano and chamber organ will be performed by pianist Tinus Botha.

History

Stefans Grové was born in Bethlehem. His mother worked as a music teacher and his father was a school principal. Grové's musical education began at school and his first compositional efforts date from that time. He eventually trained as a pianist and organist, with guidance from his mother's brother, DJ Roode.

As the first South African recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, Grové had the opportunity of going to Harvard University, where he completed his Master's degree. His teachers there included Thurston Dart and Walter Piston.

The now 89-year-old award-winning composer attended Aaron Copland's composition class at the American Tanglewood Summer School and studied the flute at the Longy School of Music. After these studies, beginning in 1956, Grové taught at the Bard College for two years, and then at the Peabody Institute in Baltimore for a further eight years.

Grové returned to South Africa for a sabbatical in 1960, when he lectured at both the Potchefstroom University for Christian Higher Education (now North-West University) as well as the South African College of Music. He returned to South Africa permanently in 1972 and was appointed as a lecturer at the University of Pretoria the following year.

Apart from his work as a composer, Grové is also a fine writer whose essays and short fiction have received praise from no less a figure than André P Brink. He has also been active as a music critic, most notably for the newspapers Rapport and Beeld.

The concert will be video-taped and will be on sale to the public.

The concert is presented by the Unisa Music Foundation and tickets are sold only at the door: R80 for adults and R60 for students and seniors.

Enquiries: Alet Joubert, Unisa Music Foundation: Tel 012 429 3336, 012 429 3311 Cell: 084 763 4079.