A view from the piano

by Rocco de Villiers

To make music is to communicate. To look at what one is communicating with is almost essential in the modern world – from there the likes of skype, facebook and thousands of photo apps.

When one is a pianist and you emerge yourself in the abstract world of instrumentalRocco with Kawai toy piano music, you learn to communicate with another mode. Sound, and sound without words, only. The piano, one of the most fascinating and mysterious instruments won’t allow the player to look at the audience. For 300 years thousands of pianists make music every night, entertain – and all that whilst looking away form the audience.

Over the last 3 decades pianists have used different tools too augment this abstract way of communication – the romantic pianists used grand gestures, Glenn Gould eccentricity, Maurizio Pollini and David Fray the deadly combination of youth and beauty, Liberace costumes, Lang Lang uniqueness, Yuja Wang the power of the body and miniskirt – but not once do they look there audience in the eye in performance. For the vain aging pianist that is a killer for the double chin! But yet they fill concert halls night after night.

My view away form the audience started when I was 4 years old. In my teens it was about hours and hours of scales, in my twenties it was about establishing a career, in my thirties and forties it was about manipulating the economical – and now it is a place of beauty, pleasure, and spiritualism.

Looking away, a double chin – but the mystery of the most popular instrument in the world continues. You don’t have to do a thing. When you press the key down, there is sound. The rest is up to you.

Follow Rocco de Villiers, South African pianist and entertainer, on www.facebook/Rocco.de.Villiers or @RoccodeVilliers


Klein Karoo Klassique 2014

This year sees the 6th instalment of this popular classical music festival in the picturesque Klein Karoo town of Oudtshoorn. The festival also has a new CEO, Rhodé Snyman who has compiled a program of outstanding European and local classical composers and performers. The festival runs from the Thursday, 14 August to Sunday, 17 August and we are extremely excited and proud to be a part of it again.

A further adjustment was made so that festival goers can attend all 8 music performances, without having to choose one over the other. There will also be an array of art exhibitions, wines for tasting and even food and wine pairing.

The festival opens with a host of art exhibitions, followed by the ATKV Opening Concert and a French dinner experience at the Black Swan restaurant, where there will be a Kawai baby grand in action. Well known performers at the ATKV Opening Concert include Philippus Hugo, Zanta Hofmeyr, Caroline Modiba and Louis Loock and will feature light classical music, songs from musicals and popular South African songs. The concert takes place at the St Salvator Cathedral and here you will have a chance to see a Kawai RX-3 grand in action.

On day two, festival goers will be treated to a concert of compositions by two well-known South African composers, Hendrik Hofmeyr and Peter Klatzow. The two compositions featured are the Concerto for flute, marimba and strings by Peter Klatzow and the Concerto for flute, harp and strings by Hendrik Hofmeyr.

This will be followed by the charming Charl du Plessis and his trio, which will bring a swing to the festival performing well-known works from the baroque era with a jazz twist, emphasizing the rhythmic vitality of these compositions in their performance called Baroqueswing.

The evening performance features the acclaimed pianist Ben Schoeman and cellist Anzél Gerber in concert with Russian master works for the cello and piano.

On day three, there will be a late morning concert with a performance by the Cape Town Soloists Choir with music by the Norwegian composer Knut Nystedt as well as choral works by well-known South African composers.

Other performances include the Odeion String Quartet and the Mimi Coertse Gala Concert where the vibrant SA Diva, Zanne Stapelberg will bring her magic to the Klein Karoo.

The festival concludes on the Sunday morning with a performance of famous opera choruses at the NG Kerk Kangovalleie in Schoemanshoek. The Cape Town Opera Chorus will be accompanied on a brand new Kawai GX-2 grand piano, from the newly launched acclaimed Kawai GX series of premium grand pianos.

Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos will be sponsoring the festival with 3 brand new Kawai grand pianos, an upright piano as well as two digital pianos.

Festival goers also have the opportunity this year to get a special package deal from KKK. Instead of paying R 745 for all eight performances, you can buy the whole package for all eight performances for R 545! Click here to read more.

Our young Steinway trained technician, Rudolf Strydom, will be the on-site piano technician for the festival and our sales & marketing consultant and resident pianist, Ruan Strauss Kalis, will also be there to represent the company and talk to anybody interested in our pianos.

GX Series Grand Pianos

Earlier this year Kawai launched their brand new grand piano series, the GX series, the first new series of grand pianos in 18 years, that has replaced the acclaimed RX series. “Combining state-of-the-art technology with traditional craftsmanship” and incredible attention to detail is the focus of this new series.

With these new grand pianos, Kawai ushers in a new era of grand piano design, incorporating much more of the prestigious handcrafted Shigeru Kawai pianos’ technology.

The new GX series grand pianos aim to reproduce the delicate control of a full concert grand piano, delivering a level of refinement that few pianists have the opportunity to experience, and Kawai have achieved this by lengthening the keyboard. As a result all GX grand pianos are 2cm longer than before and allowing for even greater expressive control.

With improvements to the rigidity of the pianos, outer-rim and tuning pins the new GX grand pianos retain tuning stability and focus of sound even more than before. A piano’s sound is created by its entire body, which is why the rigidity and stability is so important in producing sound so that no energy expended by the player is wasted and every nuance is optimised.

The GX series is of course manufactured with all the standard Kawai extras:

  • The acclaimed Millennium III action with ABS carbon – more durable and less prone to performance degradation over time, delivering improved responsiveness and control
  • Neotex key surfaces – ensures the ultimate touch of the keyboard surface. That magical point where the pianist and the piano become one
  • ‘Soft-fall’ fallboard

Some interesting facts about Kawai:

  • Company found in 1927
  • Piano No.800 was their first full size concert grand
  • History of Kawai grand piano models:
    • 1970 – KG series
    • 1979 – GS series
    • 1995 – RX series
    • 2013 – GX series
    • In 1997, Kawai became the first piano manufacturer to receive ISO 14001, the world’s foremost certification for excellence in environmental management. Kawai then went on to receive this award in 1998 and then a third time in 1999.
    • Kawai is one of the only piano manufacturers left that is family owned, placing great responsibility on the consistency of quality
    • The rare and prestigious handcrafted series of grand pianos, the Shigeru Kawai series, was launched in 1999. These pianos rank in the top few handcrafted pianos in the world today.


Klein Karoo Klassique 2013

The Klein Karoo Klassique 2013 was once again a great success with an attendance exceeding that of all the preceding festivals and two performances sold out.

The classical music festival, which extended from 8 to 11 August, was host to high profile performers such as Zanne Stapelberg, Maria du Toit, Petronel Malan, Rocco de Villiers and included the final rounds of the ATKV Musiqanto competition. Minette du Toit- Pearce, winner of the 2006 competition, was accompanied by Philippus Hugo as well as the percussion duo, Dylan Tabisher and Cherilee Adams, winners of the 2013 ATKV Muziq, opened the Klein Karoo Klassique 2013.

Zanne Stapelberg’s performance with Francois du Toit, entitled ‘Die Kuns van die Lied’, dazzled the audience with her versatility and flair, especially with her presentation of a selection of Granados lieder.

The performance of Mozart’s Don Giovanni by the UCT Opera School under the direction of Lisa Engelbrecht, was an ‘alla breve’ rendition of this master work. Having been performed at various different festivals and venues, this condensed version has been described as ‘the future of taking opera to the people out of the major city centres’ and has enjoyed much success. For those who have missed it, you are now able to see the full version with orchestra at the Baxter Theatre from 20 – 24 August 2013.

Rocco de Villiers also made an appearance in a solo performance, something out of the ordinary for him. No lighting, no sound effects, just Rocco and the Kawai piano. It was amazing to see him entrancing the audience in his very cleverly crafted programme which includes melodies everybody enjoys, but with a uniquely ‘Rocco-twist’.

Petronel Malan, SA’s darling pianist and ‘Queen of the Piano’, played to a spellbound and sold out audience. As might be expected, her performance was characteristically clear, flowing and singing, with an exceptional grasp of the architecture of the very demanding repertoire she performed. She has a soft spot for Liszt and even bakes him a cake every year for his birthday!

The festival was rounded off with the Mimi Coertse Gala evening, where the ATKV Musiqanto winner was announced and to close the festival for 2013, Maria du Toit and Sulayman Human performed to a sold out audience and Haydn’s revered Nelson Mass draw the events to a close.

The team at Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos would like to congratulate the organisers of the festival on an outstanding quality product and superb organisation. We were delighted to be part of the sponsors, where one of our Steinway-trained technicians serviced the pianos at the festival as well as having sponsored a Kawai grand piano for several performances.


Kawai at Greyton/Genadendal

Kawai at the Greyton/Genadendal Classics for All 2013

Earlier this year we sponsored pianos to the Darling Music Experience, a wonderfully fresh music festival experience. And we are at it again! The Greyton/Genadendal ‘Classics for All’ took place this year from the 31st of May to the 2nd of June and we sponsored 3 grand pianos and a digital piano for the various performances.

Set in the picturesque towns of Greyton and neighbouringGenadendal, the festival embraces people from all walks of life and presents classical music in a fresh and accessible way. Festival goers were treated to artists such as Magdalene Minnaar, Stefan Lombard, Jose Diaz, Winand Grundling, the Stellenbosch University Choir, as well as local choirs.

The venues included the beautiful historic Moravian Churches in Genadendal and Greyton, as well as featuring ‘Trio with a Twist’ at The Oaks Estate. To read more about the complete programme and artists, click here.

The festival is in its ninth year and is growing in popularity. Not only does the festival offer classical music concerts, there were also art exhibitions, wine tastings, food events with live music and the popular Greyton Saturday Morning Market.

Adele, Ruan and Garth attended the entire weekend and had a fantastic time enjoying Greyton and Genadendal’s kind hospitality and friendly people, as well as the wonderfully picturesque beauty of these two towns. It was exceptionally well attended and is indeed one of the gems of classical music festivals.


Kawai at the DME 2013

This year’s Darling Music Experience is offering a programme centred around Mozart. The Andreas Kernprogramme will not just be about Mozart, however. There will be jazz performances as well as the all new Piano Duel, where two pianists compete (or rather battle it out!) and the audience is the jury! The latter is the brainchild of Andreas Kern, who will be competing with Francois du Toit.

Don Giovanni will feature this year with a modern slant on this classic comedy. The opera will be performed by some of the most talented up and coming young musicians of the UCT Opera School at SACM.

Another new venture will be launched by the creative Andreas Kern: Mozart meets Darling wines meets fine cuisine at the Auslese Food and Wine Pairing Venue in Hope Street, Cape Town. Here he will be partnering with Chef Harald Bresselschmidt.

Back in Darling, you are in for a special treat with instrumental recitals on clarinet, cello, harp and flute as well as choir performances and excellent jazz. An interdenominational church service will also be held on Sunday, the 17th of February, at the Presbyterian Church in Darling. To view the full programme, click here.

DME2011 logoKawai and Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos are very proud to be sponsoring the pianos for the festival. We shall be loading 3 brand new Kawai grand pianos and delivering to the venues where they are required for performances, along with one of our technicians, who will tend to the technicalities of the pianos.

The popularity of the festival is increasing exponentially and the picturesque beauty of Darling adds its own magic to the setting. It is well worth the visit as there is so much to experience – from the small town hospitality, the outstanding musicians performing, the beautiful setting and just some good old fresh air! The DME and Kawai Pianos appreciate your continuous support and we hope you will enjoy what we have to offer at the DME 2013.

Kawai at The Piano Bar

The Piano BarSaturday night, the 1st of December, saw the opening of a chic new bar in De Waterkant, Cape Town. The brain child of Richard Butt, a veteran businessman, and Grant Eglin from the popular Beefcakes fame, the bar features a modern classic feel with charcoal walls, black floating ceilings, silver detailing and old black and white movies projected onto a screen. The Piano Bar will be showcasing exciting new as well as established artists.

Opening night featured Jason Reolon and friends. The attendance was overwhelming Jason and Friendsand the evening a great success. The staff are friendly and efficient, champagne was flowing and there was even an oyster shucker mingling amongst the happy partygoers! Oysters were ready to go in a flash – shucked, cleaned and seasoned within seconds!

Kawai is very happy and proud to be a part of this venture as we are sponsoring the baby grand piano and assist in sourcing artists to perform.  This is a wonderful opportunity to bring the prestige of Kawai to the heart of the vibrant gay village as well as giving a platform to the upcoming stars of Cape Town.

The Piano Bar is perfect for pre-dinner/ theatre drinks, a jazz-tapas-and-martini evening or after-dinner/ theatre venue. The wrap-around balcony is a welcome addition for some “fresh air” and the wonderful views are just splendid to make one feel part of the buzzing and trendy atmosphere of the village.

Adele and Ruan - Kawai MarketingThe team at Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos wishes The Piano Bar the greatest of success and may all who enjoy Cape Town’s vibrant atmosphere experience the golden sounds of Kawai!

Platteland Market – The Palms, Woodstock

On Saturday 13th October we are proud to sponsor The Palms with a Kawai baby grand piano for their market. The exciting line up will have a good blend of contemporary and jazz, with most of the talent coming from the South African College of Music.

The Lagu TrioThe Lagu Trio is a recently formed jazz group of saxophone, guitar and bass, all coming from the South African College of Music. The group consist of 3 accomplished musicians. Claire de Kock (saxophonist, is currently in her second year of her Jazz Performance degree at The University of Cape Town’s South African College of Music under the tutelage of Professor Mike Rossi), Luke Otto (began his studies in Cello Performance at The South African College of Music in 2006, under the tutelage initially of Anmari van der Westhuizen and then later Kristian Chernev. He later picked up bass, and in 2009 played for The UCT Big Band), Marc Röntsch (guitarist in a multitude of styles, as well as a composer, arranger and musicologist. He holds a Master’s Degree in Music from The University of Cape Town, and plans to return to do his PhD in 2013).

Jazz Between FriendsJazz Between Friends is a Cape Town based initiative with qualified graduates from the South African College of Music that perform a wide variety of regular jazz standards, Latin standards, South African standards, blues & even a collection of funk tunes.

Adele WyngaardAdele Wyngaard completed her Bachelor of Music Degree at the University of Cape Town in December 2011. In June 2010 she was awarded a scholarship to attend Europe’s prestigious Norwegian Academy of Music. This exposure to the international jazz environment served to profoundly influence Miss Wyngaard’s performance style and repertoire. Her many accomplishments include performing for former first lady, Gracia Machel; numerous performances for the Vice-Chancellor of Cape Town; performances at Victoria Nasjonal Jazzscene and Literaturhuset and vocalist for the North Sea Big Band in Oslo. Ms Wyngaard is presently an active member of the COMART Choir and Vocal Ensemble, a community organization based in Elsies River that is run by John and Professor Virginia Davids.

Gert LoubserGert Loubser is well-known with the market people as he regularly performs in collaboration with Kawai. This time round he will be singing some contemporary Afrikaans songs with the use of our Kawai baby grand.

Join us at The Palms for the ever-growing popular Platteland Market for good wine, good food and great music.

The Palms – 145 Sir Lowry Road, Woodstock – click link for map: http://www.palms.co.za/#!contact/c1d94



Paarl experiences Kawai Pianos

In August Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos hosted the Kawai Expo at the Grande Roche Hotel, where guests were treated to wine, canapés and the beautiful surroundings of the location, not to mention the outstanding service of Grande Roche!

On the guest list were music teachers and representatives of music festivals of the surrounding towns. Guests were able to try seven different Kawai upright, grand and digital pianos and experience these prestigious pianos for themselves.  A presentation was given on the benefits, manufacturing and history of Kawai Pianos as well as the services offered by Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos. This was followed by a lucky draw with prizes including a Piano Life Saver Climate Protection System, a tuning, a piano service and Cape Town Concert Series tickets.

It was a great opportunity to meet new people, for the music teachers of the Paarl, Stellenbosch and Somerset West areas to catch up and enjoy the hospitality and great wines. Ideas were exchanged on how to maintain pianos, piano funding and up-coming festivals.

Earlier this month, Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos also sponsored two Kawai pianos for the Paarl Valley Eisteddfod’s Senior Piano Division. It ran over three days where participants had the opportunity to perform on the beautiful RX-3H Kawai grand piano as well as the award winning K-3 upright piano (Acoustic Piano of the Year Award 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 – Readers of MMR Magazine)

As a token of their commitment to develop and uphold music tuition, Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos now sponsor two prizes at the Paarl Valley Eisteddfod and will be handed over to the nominated candidates on the prestigious Gala Evening at the Paarl City Hall on the 18th of October. One of our staff will be present to hand over the prizes and we look forward to a growing relationship between the people of Paarl and Ian Burgess-Simpson Pianos in the future.


Kawai at The Palms
this Saturday

Come listen to the beautiful sound of the Kawai GM-10 baby grand being played by Ruan Strauss Kalis and Gert Loubser, while enjoying the wonderful fresh produce the ‘Platteland’ market has to offer.

The grand piano is not only revered by pianists but is a must have item in any home. Elegant soirees have through the ages evoked feelings of opulence and sophistication. The prestige of a grand piano and pianist creating an ambience of chic has become ever more desirable. It speaks for itself then to combine elegant piano music with a décor and lifestyle centre with two pianists demonstrating the splendour of Kawai pianos.

Kawai pianos offer quality and precision craftsmanship while being an excellent investment. Being one of the top three brands internationally Kawai pianos have excellent value retention and longevity.

The warm, sonorous tone of Kawai will be showcased by the romantic and contemporary style of Gert Loubser and elegant classics by Ruan Strauss Kalis which include composers such as Schubert, Chopin, Brahms and Rachmaninov and will prove the wonderful versatility of these instruments. Visitors will be able to experience all the good things in life – the things that make life worthwhile: fine wine, fine food, fine décor, fine music and fine times…all under one roof!

So join us at The Palms Décor and Lifestyle Centre in Woodstock this Saturday the 23rd of June 2012 between 10am – 2pm to experience it for yourself.