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Top-class musicians appointed in UFS Odeion String Quartet
2008-11-02

 

From the left are: Denise Sutton, first violinist and leader of the string quartet, Sharon de Kock, second violinist, Jeanne-Louise Moolman, violist, and Anmari van der Westhuizen, cellist. 
 Photo: Dries Myburgh

 The University of the Free State (UFS) has recently appointed four acclaimed, top class musicians in its Odeion String Quartet. The quartet, which was established in 1991, is the only resident quartet at a South African university.

The new members who have been appointed are: Denise Sutton, first violinist and leader of the string quartet, Sharon de Kock, second violinist, Jeanne-Louise Moolman, violist, and Anmari van der Westhuizen, cellist. Anmari is the latest addition to the quartet.

Denise Sutton is well-known, inter alia, as longtime concert master of the PACT orchestra, as leader of the Rosemunde Quartet, for her involvement with the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa (COSA), and as a inspiring teacher at the University of Pretoria.

Jeanne-Louise Moolman has about twenty years experience as principal violist of professional orchestras in Gauteng and was leader of the violas in the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and COSA. She was also a founder member of the Rosemunde Quartet.

Sharon de Kock, formerly from Cape Town, studied at the University of Cincinnati, played in symphony orchestras in Peru, Costa Rica and the USA, and was a violin teacher in Mexico and Costa Rica until her return to South Africa in 2007.

Anmari van der Westhuizen, formerly from Stellenbosch, is one of the most sought-after cellists in South Africa, has been the conductor and director of the UCT String Ensemble since 1999, and spent eight years as soloist and chamber musician in Europe from 1988-1996.

The new quartet will be launched at a concert on 6 November 2008 in the Odeion on the Main Campus in Bloemfontein.

The new appointments follow after three former members of the quartet – Jürgen Schwietering, John Wille and Abrie de Wet – retired or left Bloemfontein at more or less the same time. Michael Haller, longtime cellist of the quartet, will also be retiring at the end of 2008. These developments mean that the Odeion String Quartet is literary brand new.

The new appointment creates exciting new opportunities for learners and students to be taught by excellent lecturers at the music department of the UFS. The new players also strengthen the Free State Symphony Orchestra significantly, since they will fill the four principal positions in the strings.

“The Odeion String Quartet is a flagship of the UFS and it symbolises our commitment to the arts. It also plays an important strategic role in the development of symphony orchestra music and classical music training in the Free State. It is an essential part of UFS regional collaboration with e.g. the Free State Symphony Orchestra, the Mangaung Strings Programme, the Free State Musicon, the Free State provincial Department of Arts and Culture and Pacofs.This is why a real attempt was made to obtain top class musicians, to attract the best in the country. We are pleased that such a strong group could be appointed,” said Prof. Frederick Fourie, chairperson of the String Quartet’s management committee and outgoing Rector and Vice-Chancellor of the UFS.

Most string quartets abroad are affiliated with a higher education institution, which enables a higher level of playing as there is more time for preparation and to study the repertoire. “We appreciate the university’s confidence in us and for the opportunity to explore the intricacies of ensemble playing. We hope that we can produce inspiring performances for our audiences and students,” said Denis Sutton, new leader of the string quartet.

Abridged CVs

Denise Sutton studied at the University of Stellenbosch (US) and obtained the degree B.Mus. with distinction. After this, she studied in Amsterdam with Theo Olof and Nap de Klijn, as well as in London. She was leader and second violinist in the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and did a successful audition for the English Chamber Orchestra. In South Africa she had a long career as concert master and leader of symphony orchestras. From 1980 she was concert master of the TRUK Orchestra for almost twenty years and from 2000 until 2005 she was member of the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa (COSA). She was also a founding member and leader of the Rosamunde String Quartet, one of the leading string quartets in the country. Denise had a very successful part-time teaching practice at the University of Pretoria (UP) and at a number of schools. She was also involved in postgraduate training. Her students include various competition winners and a number of them are playing professionally.

Jeanne-Louise Moolman studied at the UP under Prof. Alan Solomon where she obtained the B.Mus and B.Mus.Hons. degrees with distinction. She won among others the ATKV Forté and the Oude Meesters competitions and in 1985 she was the first winner of the prestigious 75th Commemorative Prize of the University of Natal. She has about twenty years experience as principal violist of various professional orchestras in Gauteng. Until her appointment at the UFS she was leader of the viola section in the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and COSA. She is an experienced chamber musician who regularly performs in various combinations with some of South Africa’s leading musicians. This includes Gerard Korsten, Phillipe Graffin, Jürgen Schwietering, the pianists Lamar Crowson and Albie van Schalkwyk, as well as clarinet player Robert Pickup. Jeanne-Louise was also a founding member of the Rosamunde String Quartet. She lectured on a part time basis at the UP and the Pro Arte Music School.

Sharon de Kock obtained the degrees B.A. Mus. and M.Mus. at the College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) of the University of Cincinnati in the United States of America (USA) in 2002 and 2004 respectively. Some of her teachers include the well-known concert violinist Chee-Yun Kim, Prof. Kurt Sassmannshaus and Piotr Milewski, all alumni of Julliard. From 2004 to 2006 she was violinist lecturer at two universities and a music conservatorium in Puebla, Mexico. She was also violin lecturer at a music school in Costa Rica and was associated with the Hugo Lambrechts Centre in Cape Town since 2007. Her orchestra participation includes among others the Opera Orchestra in Trujillo, Peru, the Sinfónica Nacional de Costa Rica in Costa Rica, as well as the Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, the Richmond Symphony Orchestra and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra. She also participated in the Luca Music Festival in Italy, the Grandin Music Festival in Portugal, the Pacific Music Festival in Japan and the Aspen Music Festival in the USA. Sharon performed regularly abroad as soloist and received various awards. This includes among others the CCM chamber music competition 2003 and the Baur Orchestral Competition and Heermann competition winner for violin at the CCM in 1995. In 1990 she won the first prize in the Sanlam competition.

Anmari van der Westhuizen was the winner at several national competitions such as the Forté and Oude Meester Competitions and in 1985 was the first winner of the prestigious University of Natal 75th Anniversary Prize. She is today one of the most sought-after cellists in South Africa. Anmari, a cum laude graduate of the Stellenbosch University, was awarded the Grosses Konzertdiplom with distinction at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the Konzertexamendiplom at the Hochschule für Musik in Cologne, working under Heidi Litschauer and Maria Kliegel respectively. During her stay Europe from 1988 to 1996 she appeared as soloist and chamber musician in such groups as the Koehne String Quartet in Vienna, also appearing at international festivals in Austria, Italy and Spain. Anmari has made several CD recordings. Since 1999 she has been the conductor and director of the UCT String Ensemble. A founder member of the UCT Trio, the Collage Ensemble and I Grandi Violoncellisti, Anmari still performs regularly throughout South Africa, and is invited by the Austrian Composers Union as solo cellist.

Media Release
Issued by: Lacea Loader
Assistant Director: Media Liaison
Tel: 051 401 2584
Cell: 083 645 2454
E-mail: loaderl.stg@ufs.ac.za  
29 October 2008
 

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