NELSON Mandela Metropolitan University's music department has the largest-ever contingent of students included in this year's National Youth Orchestra and National Concert Orchestra.
Music students Dylan Barker, 20, Lincoln Adams, 21, Babalwa Tshula, 20, Phakamile Msizi, 20, Sipho Vena, 19, and Christiaan Uys, 21, were selected for the National Youth Orchestra, along with another NMMU student, David Green, 23, and high school pupil Phil Karp, 17, who do music lessons at the department.
Student Grant Snyman, 20, and high school pupils Jarryd Barnard, 16, and Jan Coetzer, 17, who also receive music lessons at the department, were selected for the National Concert Orchestra.
NMMU music department head Professor Erik Albertyn said this was the biggest group from the institution to be selected after making it through the nationwide audition phase.
"We think this is a great achievement and it shows we can compete nationally. If all goes well, our students who have been included in the orchestra will have the chance to perform while on a tour of Mexico."
He said all the students would also take part in the orchestra's summer music course which culminates in a major concert in December at the State Theatre in Pretoria.
Albertyn, who is a National Youth Orchestra board member, said this inclusion exposed the students to chances to advance their musical careers and gain experience. In June, the orchestras gave concerts in Port Elizabeth and at the Grahamstown Festival of the Arts under international conductors Gerard Korsten and Juan Munoz.
Membership lasted for one year and nationwide auditions started in February each year, when pre-recordings were posted to experts for selection, Albertyn said.
"Then the blind auditions take place, where the student will play behind a screen. These take place at the winter course during April and the final orchestra is then selected."
Adams said he felt honoured and privileged to be part of the orchestra. "It means I can count myself among South Africa's up-and-coming musicians," the third-year student from Uitenhage said.