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NYMC gala concert in cellist’s crosshairs

The foundations of University of the Free State student Willie Naudé, 19, are firmly burrowed in music. Hailing from Wilropark, Roodepoort in Gauteng, this is the young cellist’s second attempt for top honours at the National Youth Music Competition (NYMC).

Both his parents have music degrees and both his siblings are playing musical instruments - his sister the violin and his brother the cello.

The rising star’s musical career started at age four when his violinist mother let him play on her violin. She and his pianist father were his first music teachers. Currently, he is studying music under NYMC alumnus, cellist Anmari van der Westhuizen, a lecturer at the University of the Free State.

Willie tries to practise the cello four hours per day but concedes that his academic commitments sometimes don’t allow it. During academic holidays when he visits home, his parents have no problem with his rehearsing at home. “The love it and always want to hear me practising,” he chuckles.

He is one of the NYMC contestants who had the chance to perform with a full symphonic orchestra. Prior moving to Bloemfontein for his studies, he was a member of the Simfonia Juventi Youth Orchestra and participated in the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival.

Apart from the cello, the upcoming musician plays the piano and is also doing percussion. He loves playing tennis to stay fit.

Pondering on which composer to highlight as his favourite, is for him difficult. But if he is pushed, it will be Czech composer Antonín Dvorák. “His music is fantastic. The cello concerto is my favourite piece. It just conquered my heart,” he beams.

With his feet on terra firma the young cellist wants to pursue a career in academics, becoming a professor at a university.

Willie entered the 2021 NYMC as his first experience, in 2019, inspired him. “This year, I aim for the final round so that I can play the Dvorák Cello Concerto with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) at the Finalists’ Gala Concert,” he enthuses.

My motto is: “Always remember you are BRAVER than you believe, STRONGER than you seem, SMARTER than you think and TWICE AS BEAUTIFUL as you would have ever imagine.”