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Melodic sounds impress audience of Corobrik-sponsored Orchestra from Scratch

Johannesburg 20 January 2019.  The 8th edition of Corobrik-sponsored ‘Orchestra from Scratch’ was a colourful occasion for the audience as amateur musicians matched the vibrant dress code with an enthusiastic performance at The Scott Gym, Wits Education Campus on Sunday, 20 January.
This inspired event formed part of the 10th annual Johannesburg International Mozart Festival with world-renowned conductor, Richard Cock, leading the orchestra. Open to all interested amateur musicians with a Grade 3 level in music, Orchestra from Scratch is a unique opportunity to showcase some of the city’s hidden musical talents.
“Music is an incredibly powerful tool, bringing together people from all backgrounds in celebration of symphonic sounds,” explained Musa Shangase, Corobrik’s Commercial Director. “Corobrik is a strong supporter of South African arts and culture, and we believe the Orchestra from Scratch is a really worthwhile event. So often people study a musical instrument, but don’t get the opportunity to perform. Work and responsibilities prevent attendance at scheduled practices, which is why this format works so well. The Orchestra from Scratch is a wonderful platform to feature the city’s musical talents to an appreciative audience.”
The popularity of this event sees many musicians returning, year-on-year, to partake in the enjoyable camaraderie. One such regular is Nelson Maenetja, a trumpeter who has performed in seven of the eight amateur orchestras.
“I belong to a musical group in Polokwane – formerly the Pietersburg Chamber Orchestra - and one of the members told us about the upcoming Orchestra from Scratch,” recalled Nelson, the chief financial officer of the Limpopo Department of Community Safety. “I was immediately interested and sent through my application.”
Nelson started playing trumpet in high school in the early 1990s, but stopped for several years while studying. He was excited to return to his music, in 1999, when he started working. 
Commenting on the orchestra, Nelson said he found it really boosted the confidence of performers: “The event is very useful for amateur players like me who do not practice music as a full-time job. It exposes us to different types of music and teaches us independence when playing, rather than merely depending on fellow players. I’ve found it has pushed me to improve my level of performance as well.”
This annual event welcomes anywhere between 84 and 161 musicians ranging in age from seven to 82. Each participant received the music in October and are encouraged to practice as often as possible in the lead-up to the performance. There was one group rehearsal on the morning of 20 January, with Richard Cock ensuring this disparate group of musicians created a harmonious sound.
“It’s always such a great feeling to get players of all ages to come and just have fun at the event,” said Cock of the orchestra. “I believe very strongly that music must be enjoyable. Yes, when it’s your job you need to take it seriously, but we need young people to come up the ranks and they will only do that if they love what they do. Because of this, I try to make it as fun as possible for all the participants. It’s great seeing everybody coming together to make one giant orchestra – playing as one big team, working together and helping each other along, from the very youngest to the very oldest. It’s really one of my favourite events in the year.”
As is tradition, the performance opened with Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika with the inclusion of a number of orchestral classics, including Beethoven’s ‘Minuet in G’ and Mozart’s ‘Toy Symphony’. The African flavour was felt in a number of songs featuring the sounds of marimbas with beautiful medleys of the Jungle Book and Superman. The event concluded on a characteristically enlivened note with an encore of ‘Jabulani’.
Corobrik Orchestra caption:  Tenor Phenye Modiane and Soprano Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi .  The conductor was Richard Cock