In a grand celebration of musical talent and cultural exchange, the National Youth Orchestra Festival is making a triumphant return to the prestigious National Theatre of Namibia (NTN), with the Gala Concert on 23 and 24 June.
Following the resounding success of last year’s National Youth Strings Festival, this highly-anticipated event promises to captivate audiences while nurturing the immense potential of young musicians from across the country.
The decision to bring back the National Youth Orchestra Festival was sparked by the remarkable achievements of its previous edition. Director of Youth Orchestras of Namibia (YONA) Gretel Coetzee spoke passionately about the positive impact it had on participants in terms of musical and social development.
“We saw how much it did for the participants in terms of their musical development and also social development; how much it benefitted them to get to know young musicians from other regions and to make new friends, etc,” she noted.
This year’s festival has evolved significantly, embracing a broader musical canvas. While the focus of last year’s event centred around string instruments, this year’s festival has expanded to include woodwind instruments, such as clarinet, flute and oboe, as well as brass instruments like trumpet and horn.
Coetzee noted that the selection process for the festival’s young musicians will be inclusive yet rigorous.
“Anyone who has played an orchestra instrument for at least two years could apply. They had to send in video auditions so that we could place them in the appropriate ensembles and orchestras,” she explained.
This meticulous approach ensures that each participant finds their rightful place within the festival, maximising musical growth and collective harmony.
Audiences attending the festival can anticipate an enchanting blend of music from both the classical repertoire and works by talented Namibian composers.
With the aim of facilitating participants’ musical development, while offering a joyous listening experience, the festival will present a diverse programme.
The NTN has pulled out all the stops to prepare for this grand event. Special arrangements have been made to accommodate the young musicians, including the provision of a dedicated area, where they can enjoy meals and engage in recreational activities safely.
The theatre has also generously opened up its spaces for sectional rehearsals, ensuring every musician can fine-tune their skills within its renowned halls. Adding to the excitement, the festival welcomes renowned guests from around the world.
Dorothee Mariani, a distinguished conductor from Switzerland, will inspire young musicians from diverse backgrounds. Accompanying her are exceptional faculty members from Germany, England and South Africa, who will provide invaluable guidance and motivation to budding talents.
Coetzee confidently declared, “Together, I know they will inspire our musicians to greater heights”.
Beyond the musical performances, the festival serves as a catalyst for cultural exchange and personal growth.
She highlighted the transformation she has witnessed in participants, stating, “It is amazing to see how young people who are initially shy and uncertain about how to interact with strangers from other regions and other countries loosen up because of the power of music. They also get to eat lunch together every day and play some games afterwards”.
Ensuring accessibility for young musicians across Namibia remains a key priority for the festival, thus generous sponsors have made it possible to provide bursaries for those who face financial barriers to participation.
Additionally, the international musicians visiting for the event have graciously waived their professional fees, making the festival more accessible to aspiring musicians.
Coetzee expressed a hopeful outlook for the future, saying, “We hope to get a signature sponsor for next year’s event, which will make the process of reaching out to the regions so much easier”.
Looking back at the festival’s past editions, she shared stories of remarkable achievements and success.
“Most of our participants were inspired to practise much harder after last year’s festival. This resulted in two of them playing solo together with the Namibian National Symphony Orchestra, and some of our young musicians also became members of that orchestra. However, the biggest success is in the newfound love for music and the new friendships that resulted from this event,” she revealed.
Tickets for the gala concerts can be purchased at any Webtickets outlet, all Pick n Pay stores, online or at the door at N$120 for adults and N$50 for children (aged 0-18 years).