I am Willem de Beer and I am a concert pianist from Pretoria. For the past seven years, I have been a student at the University of Pretoria. I completed my undergraduate degree in 2014 (cum laude) and I have recently submitted my dissertation to fulfill the requirements for a Master's degree. In my relatively short music career, I have been able to compete and win most of the notable South African music competitions, and I have played with all the professional and prominent orchestras. I have concertized all over the country and collaborated with distinguished musicians. Having conquered South Africa (in a way), I turned my gaze to the international music world. As a result, I have been offered admission to the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas at Austin to pursue a second Master's degree in piano performance.
This is however, not the first time that I have been offered admission to study a Masters abroad. During the past three years I have received offers from the New England Conservatory in Boston, the Manhattan School of Music and Mannes - the New School in New York and the Jacobs School of Music in Bloomington, Indiana. Despite receiving their biggest financial aid bursaries, the endeavor still proved too expensive. This time round, things are different.
The Butler School of Music, in addition to their biggest bursary, also offered me a sought after Teaching Assistantship. The Teaching Assistantship is a paid position in which I am expected to teach 12 non-music majors per week. The position pays for nearly all my studies as well as a monthly stipend and health insurance costs. This brings the cost of attendance down to only R210 000.
I am therefore humbly asking for your help.
I would really appreciate the opportunity to go and study abroad. Having been a prizewinner in most of our country's competitions and having played with all the major orchestras, the pond has become a little small and shallow (but no less wonderful) and I would relish in the opportunity to have a swim in the ocean that is the North American music scene.
I will, however, eventually return to South Africa as I am committed to sowing back that which I have learnt. I have already been teaching for the past 5 years as a testament to this and will also be teaching upon arriving in the USA, thanks to the Assistantship.
A thorough Biography of my career to date follows:
Described as “mature beyond his age” and a “…bright and shining star in the firmament of the South African music scene,” by newspaper Beeld, Willem de Beer is quickly becoming one of the foremost South African concert pianists.
Willem de Beer was the winner of various competitions including the largest classical music competition in South Africa, ATKV’s Muziq (2014); the Lionel Bowman Beethoven Competition (2017); the Olive Liebertz Bursary Competition (2016); the Wakkerstroom Music Festival Bursary Competition (2015); the Philip H. Moore Competition (2013); UNISA Music Scholarship Competition (2012) where Willem also received the special prizes for the best rendering of a South African and Romantic work; the First Atterbury National Piano Competition (2011), during which Willem also received the prizes for the best rendition of a Classical and South African work; and the Arts Trust National Piano Competition (2009), where the special prizes were awarded for Willem’s rendering of a concert etude as well as concerto. Willem was also a main prize winner, and the joint winner of the Piano Category at UNISA’s 120th Anniversary Bursary Concert (2014) and the runner-up at the 5th UNISA National Piano Competition (2015). Willem was also the runner-up at the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition (2017). Willem was also a finalist in the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival Bursary Competition (2015). During 2016, Willem competed in the 13th UNISA International Piano Competition and was selected to compete in the First Olga Kern International Piano Competition. Willem won the Kern Foundation’s prestigious Aspiration Prize.
Willem has performed with various orchestras: during 2009, Willem performed with both the Free State Symphony Orchestra (conductor Christopher Dowdeswell [RSA]) and Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (conductor Arjan Tien [NED]). During 2011, Willem performed with the UNISA Music Foundation Orchestra under the baton of Jonas Alber (GER) and during 2013, Willem performed with the Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestra (conductor Nicolas Nicolaides [RSA]) and University of Pretoria Symphony Orchestra (conductor Prof E. Rycroft [RSA]). Throughout 2014, Willem has performed with the Gauteng Philharmonic (Alexander Fokkens [RSA]) and Pretoria Symphony Orchestra (Gerben Grooten [NED]) as well as the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Lykele Temmingh. During 2015 he again performed with the PSO (Schalk van der Merwe [RSA]) and CPO, working with Daniel Boico [USA]. He also performed with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (Eric Rycroft [RSA]). During 2016 Willem again performed with the Gauteng Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Matteu Kieswetter [RSA] and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra with Brandon Philips [RSA]. During 2017, Willem performed Saint-Saëns’ Carnival of the Animals with the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra (Richard Cock [RSA]) and, during 2018 he will perform Tchaikovsky’s First Piano Concerto with the Rand Symphony Orchestra (Carel Henn [RSA]).
Willem has regularly performed solo recitals at various festivals and concert venues throughout South Africa, most notably his performance in one of Cape Town’s most prestigious concert series, the St. Andrew’s Academy of Music; he performed at the Northwards Mansion in Johannesburg and he also performed at the Wakkerstroom Music Festival and gave recitals at various venues in Pretoria. During the course of 2015, Willem performed at the Greyton Music Festival and the Klein Karoo Klassique music Festival. One of Willem’s most prestigious concert engagements was when he was asked to perform in front of the King of Lesotho at the opening of the Letseng Diamond mine, in Lesotho.
Willem has attended master classes with various celebrated international artists in South Africa and abroad. These artists include Jerome Lowenthal, Ramsi Yassa, Marian Rybicki, Petronel Malan and Antonio Pompa-Baldi. During 2014, Willem received his BMus cum laude under the guidance of pedagogue Joseph Stanford. He graduated as one of the best students in the whole of the Humanities Faculty. Willem is also a member of the esteemed Golden Key Honour Society for excellence in academics.
Willem has been featured on several television programmes in South Africa and recordings of his playing is often broadcast on radio by stations RSG and ClassicFm; Willem is also the host of his own radio programme, Die Konsertkamer which airs on PretoriaFM. Willem has also performed for various dignitaries, most notably the King of Lesotho. Currently, he is working towards a Master’s degree under the guidance of Dr. Bryan Wallick. Willem is married to Reneé de Beer.