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Upcoming Concerts:

Winter Symphony Season 4
Cape Town City Hall, June 25, 20:00.
Conductor: Victor Yampolsky. Soloists: Liesl Stoltz (flute); Frank Mallows (marimba). An all Klatzow concert.
SICMF Bursary Competition Concert
Endler Hall, Stellenbosch, July 6 20:00
Divas Unite!
Cape Town City Hall, August 9 15:00.
Conductor: Brandon Phillips. Women's Day concert with an all-female orchestra and stars.
Joshua Bell In Concert
Cape Town City Hall, August 26/27 20:00. Conductor: Bernhard Gueller. Beethoven; Mendelssohn; Tchaikovsky

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Brandon Phillips, new CPO Resident Conductor

Brandon Phillips was appointed resident conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra on stage before the concert at the Cape Town City Hall last night. The appointment was made thanks to funding from Rand Merchant Bank.

Brandon Phillips (left) holding the symbolic baton presented to him last night by Louis Heyneman (centre) and Victor Yampolsky
Louis Heyneman, CEO of the CPO, says Phillips is a product of the CPO’s development programmes.
“We are so proud of Brandon and what he has achieved. Without the youth orchestra, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to become the fine young conductor he is today. He had an orchestra at his fingertips and his growth is evidenced by the fact that he was asked to conduct the Miagi Orchestra in Amsterdam, Berlin (Germany) and Sweden to rave reviews, the JPO and JFO and most recently a couple of performances in Johannesburg and Cape Town of A Spartacus of Africa, the ballet to the music Khachaturian, assisting the Ballet Rambert conductor Paul Hoskins,” he says.

The first CPO resident conductor ever, Phillips, (35), is such an all-rounder that he could have been a professional sportsman or, as a musician, a professional on any one of a number of instruments but thankfully he chose to concentrate on conducting. The young maestro used to be a Western Province junior soccer player and top 100 m sprinter, too. The principal bassoon with the CPO since 2003, he made his conducting debut with CPO trumpeter Paul Chandler,  one of the two conductors when the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra made its acclaimed debut concert in 2004.  From then, he was hooked, went on to win the inaugural Len van Zyl Conductors’ Competition in 2010  and became the music director of the CPYO in 2012.
Born in Mitchell’s Plain, Brandon has been making music since he was 11, when his father chose the recorder for him to play in the New Apostolic Church in Hazeldene. Brandon wasn’t so sure this was for him, but he did it anyway, combining sport with music and becoming proficient on the flute, clarinet, tenor saxophone, trumpet, euphonium,  viola, cello  and  violin and along the way the guitar and voice, too.
At 16 came another choice: the church orchestra needed a bassoonist and since he was an easy learner why did he not study the bassoon at Beau Soleil Music Centre? There he fell in love – with the instrument. While that was his first love, there were others – his wife of a few months now, Laeticia and, of course, conducting. Brandon’s break came when he won the Len van Zyl Competition and, as part of the prize, spent a month as an intern with the Philadelphia Orchestra and a couple of months at Victor Yampolsky’s conducting classes at Northwestern University in Chicago.  One of the first things he did when he came back from America was to start a conducting class here, and he is proud to see students like Chad Hendricks, Dane Coetzee and Charl van der Merwe grow into good conductors. Today he has 9 conducting students.

Charming, unassuming and generous with his time, there’s another side to Brandon. He loves teaching. His first pupil was his mother – he taught her so she could play the viola and make music with him, his cellist brother, Gavin, and oboist brother, Ashley.  He has also taught violin, clarinet and trumpet on St Helena Island for three months, at Beau Soleil and at Sans Souci school, and has private pupils as well.  With brother Ashley and some colleagues from the College of Music at UCT, he established for some months a music school where about 30 students from scholars to those in their 50s with no grounding or training in music were taught all orchestral instruments with the exception of more here
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