Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra

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Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra
Cape Philharmonic Orchestra.jpg
Background information
Also known asCPO
OriginCape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
GenresClassical, popular music, soundtrack, crossover
Years active1914–present

The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) is an orchestra based in Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa.


Founded by the Cape Town City Council,[1] the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra held its inaugural concert on 28 February 1914 in the Cape Town City Hall. This orchestra and its predecessors[2] soon established a reputation both nationally and internationally with concerts and tours throughout South Africa,[3] the UK,[4] Taiwan, the Canary Islands and the United States.[5]

Apart from regular symphony concerts, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (as it is known today), regularly accompanies Cape Town Opera; Cape Town City Ballet; musicals; pop, community, family and crossover concerts, presenting 120 concerts per annum or more.

Traditional venues such as the Cape Town City Hall, Artscape Opera, community and schools halls, and such outdoor venues as Kirstenbosch, Oude Libertas Amphitheatre,[6] and Nederburg Wines,[7] all point to the orchestra's community involvement.

Educational programs[edit]

The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra's outreach and educational programs include the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra[8] (mentored by members of the professional orchestra); Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensemble;[8] and the grassroots training project, Masidlale[8] (meaning "let us play" in Xhosa), where disadvantaged township children are taught theory and performance skills.

Centenary celebrations[edit]

To mark its centenary celebrations in 2014, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra published A Century of Symphony: The Story of Cape Town's Orchestra to record the history and heritage of symphonic music in Cape Town and beyond. International and local musicians/conductors who performed/conducted the orchestra as referred to in the book are, among others, Jascha Heifetz,[9] Noël Coward,[10] Sir Thomas Beecham,[11] Igor Stravinsky,[12] Vladimir Ashkenazy,[13] and Pretty Yende.


Significant recordings released by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra include Mahler and Wagner songs with mezzo-soprano Hanneli Rupert[14] (Bernhard Gueller,[15] conductor); the Schnittke oratorio Nagasaki, and Symphonies No. 0 and No. 9, a double CD of orchestral masterpieces (Owain Arwel Hughes, conductor); the Barber and Korngold violin concerti with Alexander Gilman [de] as soloist (Perry So, conductor) which won a Diapason d'Or, and the four Spohr clarinet concerti with clarinetist Maria du Toit[16] (Arjan Tien [nl], conductor). Marking his 50th birthday, the South African pianist, François du Toit[17][failed verification] performed all Beethoven piano concerti in 2016 (Victor Yampolsky, conductor).

Principal guest conductor[edit]

Previously music director of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra; principal conductor of the Victoria Symphony in BC, Canada, and presently director of Symphony Nova Scotia since 2003, German-born conductor Bernhard Gueller[15] was appointed principal guest conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra in 2016,[18] following Owain Arwel Hughes and Martin Panteleev.[19]

Resident conductor[edit]

Winner of the first Len van Zyl Conductors' Competition,[20] Brandon Phillips,[8] is conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and resident conductor of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.[21]


  1. ^ See the article of William Henry Bell titled "The birth of the orchestra", Cape Times, 10 February 1925.
  2. ^ In an effort to revitalize the orchestra, the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra changed its name to the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra (CTSO) in 1969 (see "Orchestra's for 70 players", Cape Argus, 12 December 1968). In 1971, the Cape Performing Arts Board (CAPAB) orchestra was established. In 1986, the CTSO was privatized as a Section 21 Company, an "Association Not For Gain" under South African Law (see The Editor, "The CTSO goes private", Cape Argus, 28 February 1986). In 1997, the CTSO merged with the CAPAB orchestra to become the CTPO, the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (see "Brave new venture – Orchestra has huge potential", Cape Times, 7 April 1997). After the tour to the Canary Islands in 2000, the CTPO closed because of financial problems, and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) was born.
  3. ^ The first tour of the Union was in July 1914 and lasted nine weeks (see Walter Swanson, "Theo Wendt: 1874–1951 – A Tribute by Walter Swanson", SABC broadcast, 7 February 1951 between 19h15 and 19h30, Cape Town, English program, Many tours were to follow.
  4. ^ The first tour to the UK was in 1925 (see "Union of South Africa: Cape Town Symphony Orchestra – command performance at Buckingham Palace", The African World Annual (1925): 248).
  5. ^ Louis Heyneman and Shirley de Kock Gueller (editors), A Century of Symphony: The Story of Cape Town's Orchestra, (Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers, 2014), 154–158.
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ a b c d
  9. ^ Heifetz performed two concerts in the Cape Town City Hall in June 1932 ("Heifetz concerts next week", Cape Times, 25 May 1932).
  10. ^ As early as 1936 Coward's songs were included in concerts. See Marjorie Swanson, Walter Swanson: a biography (Cape Town, Mowbray: The Printing Press, 1996), 27.
  11. ^ Beecham conducted two concerts at the Alhambra Theatre in Cape Town in 1948 (see "Final Beecham Concert – Another triumph at the Alhambra Theatre", Cape Argus, 21 August 1948).
  12. ^ Stravinsky and his assistant, Robert Craft, shared a concert in the Cape Town City Hall in 1962 (see "Large audience enraptured by Stravinsky concert", Cape Times, 5 June 1962).
  13. ^ See "Superb playing by Ashkenazy", Cape Times, 12 November 1975.
  14. ^
  15. ^ a b
  16. ^ Maria du Toit – discography
  17. ^ François du Toit, Head of Practical Studies, South African College of Music
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^

External links[edit]