The University of Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Xandi van Dijk, was proud to present a concert in celebration of the 70th birthday of South African internationally-performed composer Péter Louis van Dijk. The concert took place on Friday 31 March in the Endler Hall, Stellenbosch.

The first part of the concert was dedicated to the music of Péter Louis van Dijk. The concert opened with his work titled About Nothing, followed by the Sarabande for Strings with viola solo played by Xandi. The orchestra was then joined by VOX Cape Town, and a handful of ad hoc singers, for a performance of Van Dijk’s San Gloria. That work, inspired by San themes and rhythms, sensitively blends the music of these ancient African people with an abridged version of the ancient Latin hymn ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’. For the second part of the concert, the University of Stellenbosch Symphony Orchestra performed the colossal First Symphony by Brahms.

Péter Louis van Dijk

Péter Louis van Dijk (Rotterdam, Netherlands, 1953) is an internationally-performed composer. His works include Horizons, written for and recorded by The King’s Singers, the string quartet iinyembezi, and the opera Mandela Trilogy (prelude, first act, interlude and third act by Péter Louis van Dijk, second act by Mike Campbell) performed to critical acclaim at the Welsh National Opera in 2012 and at the Deutsches Theater in Munich in 2014, during 2016/17 at the Royal Albert Hall, Riccardo Muti’s Ravenna Festival, the Dubai Opera House and the Hong Kong Opera. Other compositions include the song the san women sang for the Mainzer Klavierduo, Magnificat for the Nelson Mandela University (NMU) Choir and string quartet, and Windy City Songs for soloists, double choir and orchestra, commissioned by the Chicago Children’s Choir for their 50th Anniversary Concert at the Lyric Opera, Chicago (2007).

Van Dijk has composed several operas, including Out of Time (commissioned for the University of Cape Town’s 150th anniversary celebrations, 2010), two ballets, chamber music, several educational and chamber-orchestral works such as The Musicians of Bremen, Follow That Flute!, the cantata The Selfish Giant (most recently performed at the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival with Archbishops Emeritus Desmond Tutu as the narrator), Youth Requiem, Te Deum and several orchestral arrangements of traditional African songs such as Bawo Thixo Somandla, Ingoma kaNtsikana and others. Following the success of Horizons, van Dijk’s choral compositions, such as the San Gloria (performed at Europe Cantat in Turin, Italy, 2013), Bells (commissioned by the Chicago Children’s Choir), Cessate, Magnificat and Chariots (jointly commissioned by the Texas State Chorale and the NMU Choir), have gained considerable popularity. Chariots was performed as a set piece for the Texas All-State Choirs in 2015. Another choir piece, Psalmus, commissioned by the WCSM, was premiered in Barcelona , 2017, by New Dublin Singers.

Péter Louis van Dijk has more than a dozen CDs to his credit, including recordings for the RCA Victor Red Seal and Marco Polo labels. He is published by Hal Leonard, Oxford University Press, Accolade Musikverlag, Prestige and Alliance. Dr van Dijk has lectured at the University of Cape Town and the University of the Western Cape. He was senior lecturer in Composition and Theory at Rhodes and taught Composition and Orchestration at NMU in Gqeberha, where he was honoured by being named the only Honorary Alumnus of the university. He also assisted his wife, Junit van Dijk, in the postgraduate choral conducting programme at NMU.

While van Dijk has written the lyrics of most of his works for orchestra and voice, has published his first volume of poems called Ickarus Licarus in 2019 and is currently editing a second volume. As poet and composer, van Dijk continues to be challenged by the following concepts: treasure the child; master the simple; touch the heart.