Bloemfontein is renowned as the center of musical education and performance in South Africa.
But the emergence of a new era after apartheid saw the funding of classical music withdrawn through what was considered European import for exclusive audience. But despite this, the University of Free State Bloemfontein still runs the Odeion School of Music; the music school is one of its kind in the African continent.
“When we come to work, it’s different for us because we do what we love doing. String Quartet is the epitome of classical music,” tells Samson.
The Quartet spends a lot of time rehearsing. Their genre is Latin and Tango mixture of classical music.
Samson, the lead violin joined the String Quartet to lead the Quartet; he became the group’s first black member since its inception in 1991. Samson comes from a humble background and his love for violin started off when he was in school in Soweto, he joined a local community group which played instruments.
“I saw violins lying down and I thought with the violin you progress by the size of it. Few months later I was asked to play a solo,” recalls Samson.
Since then Samson has been standing in front of crowds playing violin. He became very good and he was chosen to go and study music in St. Martin’s College in London.
“He was the only one who went to levels that other students were not reaching. When it comes to music he’s a totally different person, a new body emerges and he’s in the music and he’s part of the music and you can’t disturb him,” tells Samson’s wife Onica Diamond.
Despite the success achieved by black young musicians like Samson many black people are still not connected to the classical music. It still remains a fetish for an exclusive audience.
“It’s still sad that we have not drawn many black people or people from other race groups to our concerts. We have to work harder at that,” tells Anmari – cellist.
The group travels to different parts of the country showcasing their prowess in classical music. They are taking their music a notch higher by recording their albums in order to sell, hopefully this way they can reach many audiences.
“Music is a universal language. You don’t speak Afrikaans, you speak ‘music language’ this is a very strong force in reconciling people and for communicating with others when you don’t speak their language,” says Jean Louise Moolman- violist.