Louis Nel

Louis Nel

The overall winner of the 2016 Hennie Joubert Piano Competition is Louis Nel, a 15-year-old pianist from Pretoria. The final round of this national competition was held on Friday, 18 March, in the Endler Hall in Stellenbosch.

The Hennie Joubert Piano Competition, originally started in 1984, is held every second year as part of the Stellenbosch International Piano Symposium, which is presented by the Department of Music at Stellenbosch University. It is one of the country’s most prestigious competitions for young pianists.

Ten semi-finalists participated in the elimination rounds from 14 to 16 March, after which five finalists were chosen. For the final round, each finalist performed a movement from a piano concerto with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of maestro Corvin Matei.

Louis Nel, who played African Fantasy Op.89 by Camille Saint-Saëns in the final round, received the first prize of a gold medal, the Hennie Joubert Trophy, prize money of R22 000, as well as three recital engagements in 2017. These recitals will be held in the Goodnow Hall in Wellington (where the Hennie Joubert Piano Competition was started), a lunch-hour concert at the Department of Music at Stellenbosch University, as well as a recital in the Etienne Rossouw Theatre in Sasolburg.

Nel also won prize money of R1 000 for the best performance of a virtuoso etude in round 2.

Second prize went to Cindy Ju (17) from Johannesburg. She received a silver medal and R15 000 in prize money. She was also awarded the Joan de Villiers Prize for the best performance of a classical sonata in round 3 in the amount of R3 000, and prize money of R1 000 for the best performance of a South African work in round 2.

In third position was Swunhtat Oo (16) from Harrismith in the Free State. He received a bronze medal and R10 000 in prize money. In addition, he won R1 000 for the best prelude and fugue by JS Bach in round 2, and R1 000 for the best recital in round 3.

Fourth prize of R6 000 went to Leo Huan, a 12-year-old pianist from Pretoria, and the fifth prize of R4 000 to Milano Reyneke (15), also from Pretoria.

The André Serfontein Prize for the most promising candidate not to advance to the final round went to Colette du Toit (15) from Pretoria.

The competition jury consisted of Bennie van Eeden from Stellenbosch, Liezl-Maret Jacobs from Durban, Malcolm Nay from Johannesburg, and the Russian-Israeli pianist Ilya Friedberg, who was a guest artist of the Piano Symposium. Dr Pieter Grobler of Stellenbosch University was the convenor.