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On Sunday 31 August 2008 the Buskaid Ensemble will participate in a public concert commemorating 50 years of the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust (OMT) to be held at another historic venue, the church of Regina Mundi , Moroka, Soweto. For the past six years the OMT has generously supported the tertiary studies of two Buskaid students at a leading UK music college. The Ensemble will perform music by the 18th century composer Chevalier St Georges, also known as the Black Mozart, and the concert starts at 15h00. 


On Sunday 7th September at 3.30 pm the Buskaid Intermediate Ensemble will be playing a programme of Jewish music at the Rabbi Cyril Harris Community Centre at the Great Park Synagogue, cnr Glenhove Road and 4th Street, Houghton. This concert will also feature three of Buskaid’s most advanced players who will perform solos by Bloch and Wieniawski. For more details please contact Hazel Cohen: (011) 728-8088 or (011) 728-8378.


On the afternoon of 28th September there will be an informal concert at the Buskaid Music School in Diepkloof, Soweto featuring twelve students who are taking Associated Board practical examinations. This year two students are sitting Diploma exams and will be performing major works from the mainstream string repertoire. We are hoping to offer our audience an African meal after this concert. Detail to follow.



We are very thrilled to have received a donation to Buskaid of £1,432 which was generated from an online X-Files Premiere tickets auction. Our warmest thanks to Gillian and all her supporters for this further very welcome support.


On Tuesday 12 August we received a memorable visit from the renowned conductor and motivational speaker Ben Zander, who gave a workshop for our students in front of a modest but very enthusiastic audience of Buskaid supporters in our music school in Soweto. Members of both the senior and intermediate ensembles responded very positively to Ben Zander’s mixture of musical inspiration and infectious humour. His visit was very kindly organised for us by Rita Meininghaus, in conjunction with Ivor Ichikowitz, Chairman of the Paramount Group.


On Sunday 17 August 2008, Leaders Unlimited – Korn/Ferry International hosted their sixth gala event in support of Buskaid. There was a private function, by invitation only, with special emphasis on honouring women in celebration of SA Women’s Day and took the form of a full-length concert by the Buskaid Ensemble at the historic Walter Sisulu Square of Dedication in Kliptown, Soweto. At the end of the concert, the joint CEO of Leaders Unlimited, Gusti Coetzer, presented Rosemary Nalden with a cheque for R175,000, a most generous contribution towards Buskaid's general operating costs.


Buskaid News 2007 : Newsletter 1


Page 2



Other News


Concerts and corporate performances


In the second half of 2006 we gave a wide variety of performances ranging from public concerts to private functions. Our Durban début, organised by Vera Dubin, attracted an enthusiastic audience to the Durban Jewish Club and resulted in our receiving a very handsome donation from Jonathan Beare, a most generous supporter of our project. (Sadly, the day after our return to Jo’burg all our cameras were stolen so that we have no photographic records of this concert.)


A month later, just before Kabelo left for Manchester, we gave a concert in Holy Trinity Church, Braamfontein featuring ten soloists from the Ensemble playing a variety of baroque concertos. We were very happy to have Samson with us on this occasion – he also was about to leave for the RNCM, but as a postgraduate student, whose research and violin studies have been most generously funded by an RNCM scholarship and the Canon Collins Memorial Trust. You can read more news of Samson later in this letter. Our final concert of 2006 was a very successful and enjoyable Classic FM Soirée, when we were
made very welcome, as always, by the Classic ‘team’.

Apart from a wide variety of corporate ‘gigs’ we also played in the presence of HRH Prince Edward the Earl of Wessex and the British High Commissioner; at an evening at the presidential home, hosted by Mrs Zanele Mbeki, and, on January 2 2007, at the opening of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in Johannesburg. Most recently, the Buskaid sextet performed in the presence of Prime Minister Tony Blair, at a prestigious function hosted by the British High Commission in Pretoria to celebrate the official birthday of HM Queen Elizabeth II.


Associated Board practical examination results


Once again our students achieved excellent passes when they sat these international exams towards the end of 2006. Of the four candidates, three gained distinctions and one a merit.


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Barloworld presentation


On August 16th 2006, at a Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra concert in the Linder Auditorium in Johannesburg, the CEO of Barloworld, Tony Phillips, presented the Buskaid Trust with a cheque for R250 000 towards general expenditure 2006/7. This was the first of two annual donations to Buskaid from Barloworld, a company with which we are extremely proud to be associated. Later last year a group of Trustees and senior students were guests at their end-of-year party, a further demonstration of the warm personal contact we have with this company.


Leaders Unlimited 2007 Soirée and other generous support


On April 22 2007, Leaders Unlimited, which has demonstrated unflinching loyal support of Buskaid, hosted its fifth concert for our benefit. This year’s Soirée, which also coincided with the company’s fifth birthday, took place at the Liberty Theatre in Sandton. Our Junior Ensemble welcomed the guests at the entrance to the theatre with a very creditable performance, whilst the Ensemble’s concert in the theatre was of a remarkable standard. Leaders Unlimited not only provided its guests with a delicious buffet supper, but also presented Buskaid with a fantastic R160 000 cheque for our general funding. This ongoing relationship is one which we greatly value and appreciate.


We are also most indebted to the Linbury Trust in the UK for its substantial donation to the UK Trust towards teaching salaries. In South Africa, we appreciate the support of Sentinel Steel following the visit to the Music School of its CEO Sanjay Doshi.


Towards the end of 2006 Buskaid UK shipped out a further donation of instruments, most of which came from the UK, the USA and Germany. Since then Sonja has been very busy in her workshop meticulously setting up a great many violins, some of which are amongst the finest we have received. Many of our senior students now play on these instruments, a privilege which they greatly appreciate. They remain the property of the Trust and are on loan to our students. Thank you to all those people who made these donations!

Further support from the Annenberg Foundation


We are very proud to have been awarded a second extremely generous grant from this philanthropic American organisation, whose support of Buskaid will have a meaningful impact on our activities in 2007.


Kabelo Motlhomi

In September Kabelo commenced his studies at the Royal Northern College of Music (RNCM), Manchester, thanks to a substantial donation from an anonymous South African couple, further generous funding from the Ernest Oppenheimer Memorial Trust, a donation from Jonathan and Teresa Sumption (who also assisted Samson with his studies) and an Entrance Award from the RNCM. We are indebted to all these individuals and organisations for their support of Kabelo.


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Samson’s continuing successes


After graduating with First Class Honours last year, Samson expressed the wish to stay on at the RNCM for a postgraduate year. Subsequently accepted by the Hallé Orchestra in Manchester as a participant in its Professional Experience Scheme for graduates of the RNCM, Samson’s ‘baptism’ into the Hallé was as a first violinist in a performance of Richard Strauss’s Heldenleben, when he made such an impression that he was then invited back to audition for regular freelance work. The Hallé’s conductor, Mark Elder recently commented to me, ‘We are all delighted to welcome Samson. He impressed us all so much with his playing, his preparation, his intensity and his commitment.’ Samson was also accepted by the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra to participate in a similar scheme. These positions are awarded to graduate students following keenly competitive auditions. Most
recently he was chosen to co-lead the Freedom 200 Orchestra at a service in Westminster Abbey marking the bicentenary of the Abolition of Slavery, in the presence of HM the Queen. Samson’s string quartet was also selected to participate in masterclasses at the London String Quartet Symposium 2007. At present we are encouraging him to gain as much experience as possible as a freelance violinist in the UK after he has completed his Masters Degree in violin performance.


The Music School 2007


Despite the continuing challenge of ‘too much work and too little time’ faced by all of us involved in the project, we are a very positive and highly productive team, down in Soweto. Every weekday there are students receiving personal tuition from both Sonja and myself, as well as from our assistant and trainee teachers – Lesego, Gilbert, Innocentia, Didi, Tiisetso, and Cecilia. Weekday theory classes of varying levels, run by John Reid Coulter, Sonja and Innocentia are available for every student. During the weekends, students can attend lessons in Alexander Technique with Nanette Anderson, before or after their group lessons and rehearsals. This year Tiisetso has been observing most of my lessons, whilst
receiving intensive teacher-training. Junior students stay on after their groups to help with the little beginners, whilst those beginners are now proud to be helping with our most recent intake, a new violinists’ class we started at the end of February. Teacher-training has taken on a new meaning and now has a certain cachet amongst the younger members! It is interesting to note that when I first started the project, boys far outnumbered girls: this latest class consists of seven girls and one boy, a reflection of increasing female confidence and changing attitudes in a historically male-dominated society.


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.......and the Buskaid office


Anne Bull, our new administrator, who recently took over from Sonia when she left earlier this year, remarked to me that we scarcely refer to the office in our newsletters, despite the fact that it plays such a crucial role. The administrative side of an organisation such as ours is complicated, multifaceted and extremely work-intensive. Three of us - Anne, Lesego and I - work every weekday in our two-roomed space - without stopping for lunch - from 8.30am until around 2.30 pm when Lesego and I leave for Soweto to teach. Anne then stays on for an extra couple of hours. From time to time we have to call upon Sonja to come in and help. On a daily basis we are dealing with a constant flow of emails, often from people all over the world enquiring about the project, as well as requests for gigs,
preparation for tours (huge!), monthly accounts, reports, problems facing students in difficulties, long and short-term planning of workshops, concerts and tours, marketing, sourcing and arranging music, dealing with constant requests from individuals and the media to visit the school, addressing issues concerning our academic scholars and overseas students, and day-to-day general management. And as South Africans reading this newsletter will know all too well, it is quite likely that we may simultaneously be battling with faulty internet and phone lines, or one of Joburg’s regular powercuts.......


Around these office and music school activities, I somehow have to structure vital
fundraising to keep Buskaid afloat! Our very slimmed-down budget (excluding foreign tours and our support of overseas students) now stands at around R1.9 million pa (in the region of £140 / $270,000); generating this amount of money annually is a constant source of anxiety. At the time of writing, despite the generous grants and sponsorships highlighted above, we are still living a fairly hand-to-mouth existence which I find hard to accept, considering the extraordinary impact this project has here, and around the world. If we could build our Endowment to a relatively modest R20 million (£1.5 / $2.8 million), we could look forward to a secure future, with more energy focused on expanding our musical activities rather than writing funding proposals! Is there perhaps a multi-
millionaire out there who would like to help?!


With the Earl of Wessex

With the Earl of Wessex


Lesego giving Mrs Mbeki a Buskaid CD

Lesego giving Mrs Mbeki a Buskaid CD


Cheque presentation, Leaders Unlimited

Cheque presentation, Leaders Unlimited


Palesa helps Katlego

Palesa helps Katlego