Piet de Beer:
Piet de Beer is an internationally groomed South African violinist, who has performed on top stages and done numerous recordings for film, television, and records, playing classical as well as contemporary styles.
A performance diploma graduate of the University of Stellenbosch where he studied under Professor Jack de Wet, Piet was awarded an international scholarship by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music in Britain. He spent two years at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow, where he obtained a Master of Music degree in Performance. During this period of study abroad with the noted teacher Simon Fischer, he frequently appeared as concertmaster of, and, on occasion, soloist with the Academy’s orchestra. He also worked as an ad hoc musician in the Scottish National Orchestra.
Back in South Africa, he freelanced for a time with the former CAPAB Orchestra, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Cape Town Sinfonietta before becoming a member of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra’s first violin section when it was inaugurated at the beginning of 2001.
South African cellist, Peter Martens and Portuguese pianist, Luis Magalhães, won the 2011 Classical Music SAMA for their recording of the complete Sonatas for Cello and Piano by Beethoven. Joanne Talbot of the Strad wrote, “Martens delivers brilliantly incisive and spirited accounts of all these works.”
Of his most recent CD, the Bach Cello Suites, Robin Stowell, in the October 2013 edition of the Strad wrote, “Peter Martens’ interpretations are thoughtfully prepared and generally commendably executed, balancing modern performance practices with the simple clarity of period style. Martens bring aristocratic poise, poetry and rhythmic flexibility to the preludes. His courantes are generally fast and light and his sarabandes are profound and freely contemplative. Martens is playful in the gallantries, giving spring to the pairs of menuets in nos. 1 and 2, playing the bourées in mischievous vein and injecting the gavottes with a sense of fun.
Peter Martens studied with Dalena Roux at Stellenbosch University, Heidi Litchauer at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and holds a Masters Degree from the University of Cape Town. In 1993 Peter returned to South Africa and occupied principal positions in the New Arts Philharmonic and Cape Philharmonic before moving to the University of Stellenbosch where he currently holds the positions of Director of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival and Artistic Administrator of the Department of Music.
He is a member of the Amici String Quartet and has enjoyed other chamber music partnerships with Leon Bosch (double bass), Lamar Crowson (piano), David Juritz (violin), Nina Schumann (piano), Luis Magalhães (piano), Benjamin Schmid (violin), Daniel Rowland (violin), Wolfgang Schmidt (cello), Mirijam Contzen (violin), Suzanne Martens (violin), Ivry Gitlis (violin) and members of the Osiris Piano Trio, Amsterdam. Recent concert activity includes the Schubert Quintet with the Brodsky String Quartet in London; several performances of the Gulda Cello Concerto; various chamber music performances with pianist, Leslie Howard; several performances of the six Bach Cello Suites and a performance of Beethoven cello sonatas for the Salzburger Schloßkonzerte with pianist Ariane Haering. Concerto engagements have resulted in collaborations with a number of fine conductors including Victor Yampolsky, Bernard Gueller, Douglas Boyd, Nicholas Cleobury, and Jonas Alber. He has participated in festivals in Russia, Holland, Salzburg, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Portugal as well as having performed in the U.K. and U.S.A. Many South African composers have written for him, the most notable composition being the Cello Concerto by Allan Stephenson, which he recorded for Meridian Records with the Cape Philharmonic. He has subsequently given the world premiere of Peter Klatzow’s sonata for cello and piano. His latest CD of the Bach Cello Suites, available from TwoPianists Records was launched in March 2013 with a three-hour recital including all six suites, streamed live from the Endler Hall Stellenbosch.
Peter is now Artistic Director of the award-winning Stellenbosch University Camerata that recently teamed up with Joshua Bell in performances of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons in Cape Town and Stellenbosch. Together with the SU Camerata, he has performed the Beethoven ‘Triple’ concerto with Benjamin Schmid and Luis Magalhães, as well as with Suzanne Martens, his own transcription for cello of the solo viola part of Mozart’s Sinfonia Concertante KV 364, which is available from Stellenbosch University Press.
Peter ordinarily plays on a Lockey Hill cello, but inspired by the Historically Informed Performance Practice movement, has recently acquired a Baroque cello too. Thus far, he has performed on Baroque cello with the University of Stellenbosch Baroque Ensemble, Camerata Tinta Barocca and most recently with L’Orfeo Baroque in celebrating Dr. Barry Smith’s 50 years of music making in Cape Town. He is married with two children to violinist, Suzanne Martens.
Suzanne Martens studied at the University of Pretoria under Prof Alan Solomon where she obtained the BMus Performers and BMus Honours degrees, both cum laude. She furthered her studies in Holland under Jan Repko (Academie Minerva, Groningen) and in Austria under Lavard Skou-Larsen (Mozarteum, Salzburg), where she was a member of the Salzburger Musici Chamber Orchestra. She has subsequently obtained a M.Mus (cum laude) in chamber music from the University of Stellenbosch and is currently enrolled for a DMus at the University of Pretoria.
Suzanne’s first exposure to ensemble and orchestral playing was at the hand of the late Betty Pack. Later she was a member of Harmonia Juventia as well as Pro Musica, under the batons of Alan Solomon and Weiss Doubell respectively. As a student, she was concertmaster of the UP Symphony Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra. Suzanne has been awarded several prizes, including the University of Natal 75th Anniversary Prize (1988) and the overall first prize in the ATKV Forté Competition (now the Musiq competition) in the same year. In 1991 she was part of the winning trio in the Oude Meester Chamber Music Competition. She was awarded academic colours at university.
Apart from performing as a soloist with all the major orchestras in the country, Suzanne is an active chamber musician who has appeared in different ensembles including the Rosamunde Quartet, the Allegri Trio, Schwietering Quartet, Lyric Trio, the Amici Quartet and the original Quartet of Peace. With these ensembles she has performed at various festivals in Southern Africa, working with acclaimed artists such as Leslie Howard, Juliette Bausor and Steven Prutsman. Suzanne has also worked with pianists Nina Schumann, Luis Magalhaes, Pieter Grobler, José Dias, and Elna van der Merwe as part of piano duos and trios.
From 1994-2000 Suzanne was Associate Concertmaster of the New Arts Philharmonic Orchestra Pretoria, and a founder member of the Chamber Orchestra of South Africa. She was concertmaster of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra in 2001/2002 and since 2005 she acts as guest concertmaster for approximately half of every symphony season, working with conductors such as Arjan Tien, Bernhard Gueller, Yasuo Shinozaki and Jonas Alber. She is an ad hoc member of Camerata Tinta Barocca, for which she plays Baroque violin.
Suzanne was appointed at the University of Stellenbosch in 2002 and is currently a senior lecturer in violin. Together with cellist Peter Martens, she leads the Stellenbosch Camerata and is also coordinator of Chamber Music at the US Department of Music. She is a faculty member at the annual Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival and has also been a faculty member at various other chamber music festivals. She has served on the jury of the Artscape Youth Music Competition several times and has acted as external examiner for the Universities of the Free State and Pretoria. She is also frequently asked to adjudicate eisteddfods. Where possible, Suzanne tries to encourage her students to further their studies and musical experience abroad.
Elna van der Merwe:
Elna van der Merwe was a full-time accompanist and part-time piano lecturer at the Conservatory of the University of Stellenbosch until 2001. Since then she is an ad hoc pianist and sought-after collaborative artist for local as well as international artists such as Michell Breedt (mezzo-soprano), Douglas Masek (Saxophonist), Maria Kliegel (cellist), Susan Milan (flautist).
Ms van der Merwe studied piano and organ at the University of Stellenbosch, she won several awards, stipendiums, and competitions. She performed as soloist with various national orchestras.
Local instrumentalists and singers with whom she regularly performs are Zanta Hofmeyr, Zanne Stabelberg, the South African Sopranos, Niel Rademan, Maria du Toit, Liesl Stolz, Peter Martens, Suzanne Martens. In May 2011 she performed as a collaborative pianist with Zanta Hofmeyr in Malta. She also accompanied the Libertas choir on their tours to Belgium and the USA.
She has been awarded by Samro in gratitude and recognition for excellent service in accompaniment in the Overseas Scholarship Competitions. As accompanist, she has appeared in all the Unisa International singing-, strings- (since 1990) and recently the flute and clarinet competitions.
As multi-talented pianist she has played in two piano arrangements with Zorada Temmingh as part of the Blondes in all the major festivals in South Africa. In 2011 The Blondes performed in Israel and London.
She has recorded many Cd’s and Dvd’s with different artists and served on several music competition panels as adjudicator.