Saturday 13 May 2023, 17:00, Moravian Church, Greyton, R160
South African born clarinettist Maria du Toit and Dutch pianist Vera Kooper bring their positive mindset and fearless energy onto the stage when they present this fresh and inspiring recital of music by female composers such as Clémence de Grandval, Ida Gotkovsky, Germaine Tailleferre, Ivy Priaulx Rainier and others.
Maria Du Toit
South African born clarinettist Maria Du Toit is widely regarded as one of her home country’s finest instrumentalists. Having been the solo principal clarinettist of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (South Africa) for 13 years, she currently lives in the Netherlands where she is pursuing a solo and chamber music career. Critics have described her playing as ‘sensational’ and ‘astonishing’, and often compliment her flawless intonation, baffling technique and mellifluous tone. Du Toit has won numerous competitions, awards and prizes both in her home country and abroad — among which, first prize in the international clarinet competition ’Jeunesses Musicales’ in Bucharest. Du Toit studied at the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa where she obtained a bachelor’s degree in solo clarinet playing cum laude and a performer’s licentiate from the University of South Africa with highest honours. She subsequently studied at the Manhattan School of Music (USA) with David Krakauer, the Utrecht Conservatoire (Netherlands) with Bas de Jong, and at the Sofia Music Academy (Bulgaria) with Petko Radev. She is a respected clarinet teacher, having served as clarinet lecturer on the faculty of the University of Stellenbosch for well over a decade. Her expertise is also in demand internationally, as she has given lectures, masterclasses and workshops in Germany, the USA, Greece, the Netherlands and South Africa. Du Toit can be heard as soloist and chamber musician on stages across Europe, the USA and South Africa. She has released three albums and received a South African Music Award (SAMA) nomination for her album ‘Luminous Shade’ with acclaimed pianist Nina Schumann. Her double CD of the complete clarinet concerti by Louis Spohr with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra under conductor Arjan Tien has received numerous rave reviews. Her artistry has inspired composers to dedicate clarinet works to her, including two concerti by composers David Earl and Roelof Temmingh. In 2023 Maria will perform the concerto by David Earl with the Colorado Symphony (USA) during the 50th anniversary of the annual international event ClarinetFest, to which she has been invited to appear as headline artist. Maria is an official Backun artist as well as a Silverstein Inspiring Pro.
Dutch pianist Vera Kooper has been described as a “sensitive and expressive performer, with impressive instrumental control and all-out dedication, capable of transforming each performance into a poetic, moving artistic experience”. Vera started playing the piano at the age of six and joined the young talent class of the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague at the age of thirteen, where she studied in the class of Russian piano pedagogue Kamilla Bystrova. She continued her education with David Kuyken and graduated with honours in 2011. She then moved to Austria to study with George Kern at the Universität Mozarteum in Salzburg, where she received her Soloist Diploma in 2015. Additionally she worked with Konstantin Bogino in the ‘Corso di Alto Perfezionamento’ at the Accademia Santa Cecilia in Bergamo and received coaching and musical advice from the legendary American pianist Stephen Kovacevich in London, who describes her as “an unusually gifted and interesting artist”. At the age of sixteen Vera won the second prize at the International Steinway Competition in Amsterdam. In 2007 and 2008 she was awarded top prizes at the Prinses Christina Concours in the Netherlands, both as a soloist and with her duo partner violinist Emm y Storms. These successes resulted in many concert engagements in the Netherlands and abroad. In 2013 Vera co-founded the Delta Piano Trio, with violinist Gerard Spronk and cellist Irene Enzlin. The trio won numerous awards and prizes, including 1st prize at the Stasys Vainiunas International Chamber Music Competition in Lithuania, the Salieri-Zinetti International Chamber Music Competition in Italy, the Orlando International Chamber Music Competition in The Netherlands and the Orpheus Chamber Music Competition in Switzerland. With about 50 concerts each season they have performed extensively in Europe, Russia, China, Korea, Indonesia and the United States. In 2017 they released their debut CD with works by Sergei Taneyev and Alexander Borodin for Naxos Records. Their second CD, The Mirror with Three Faces, with works by Lera Auerbach and Dmitri Shostakovich was released in 2018 to great international acclaim. In 2020 they were awarded the “Kersjesprijs”, the most prestigious chamber music award in The Netherlands. Highlights of the past seasons include a performance of Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with the Basel Chamber Orchestra, residencies at the West Cork Chamber Music Festival and the Davos Festival, a collaboration with violist Nobuko Imai. In 2020, Vera released her first solo CD, called “Hope”, with works by Beethoven and Corigliano and toured the Netherlands with tv-presenter Floris Kortie and “Het jaar 250 na Beethoven”, a theatre production about the life and piano sonatas of Ludwig van Beethoven.