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Sam Hertz  music maestro at age 11




Samuel was also selected as one of 50 musicians nationwide to compete in the Hubert van der Spuy Music Competition in Cape Town in September. This national competition has put many a local musician on the international map.

Music is in this little boy’s blood and it has already brought him numerous accolades.

In July, young Samuel performed as a piano soloist with the Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra in the Junior Concerto Festival at the Linder Auditorium. He was recently selected as a semi-finalist in the prestigious Philip Moore Music Competition.

At the recent SA Society of Music Teachers Music Festival, he received five diplomas and two honours. He was also awarded the trophy for Most Promising Pianist 11 years and under, making it the third year in a row he has won in his age group. He also won the trophy for Best Concerto 12 years and under.

Sam will be playing in the National Atterbury piano competition in Pretoria later in October.

On August 7, Sam performed a 30-minute piano concert in the Gerald Horowitz Lounge for residents of Golden Acres and Sandringham Gardens.

This gifted young musician told the SA Jewish Report that when he was in nursery school, his teachers used to say that he loved listening to music and that it calmed him down. “Just before I went to primary school, one of my teachers asked my mom if she wanted to keep her old piano, as she was moving to a smaller home.

“My mom started teaching me how to play when I was in grade 1, but she didn’t really remember a lot and I could soon play better than her. So, when I was in grade 2, I started proper lessons with my amazing teacher, Dr Jean Pierre (JP) Calitz. He has a PhD in piano and is a brilliant performer.”

Sam admits that although his parents are “not really musical”, his sister Rachel, who is 13, plays the violin really well. “I always listened to her playing (I think she started when she was in grade 1) and I knew I wanted to play an instrument, but not a violin.

“We met my teacher, JP, when he accompanied my sister in her first violin exam.

“My parents love the theatre and especially musicals and I remember one of the first musicals they took me to was Cats – I think I was three but I had watched the movie lots of times and I knew all the words of all the songs.

“I have also watched piano and violin concerts at Carnegie Hall twice and watched musicals on Broadway and the West End. My favourite music and musical of all time is ‘Les Misérables’.”

Asked how he balanced school work and piano practice, Sam said: “I don’t really get a lot of homework, because I finish most of it at school. But I have good time management. I practise for over an hour every day of the week, and before an eisteddfod, I practise for two hours every day.”

Sam’s favourite composer is Kabalevsky “because his music is unpredictable and he always brings something new to the pieces” and he also likes rap music and 60s rock music. “My favourite group is The Beatles.”

Asked how he relaxed and what other interests he had, Sam responded: “I do a lot of public speaking and debating at school. I also love drama and acting. I have been in about seven professional productions, mainly at the National Children’s Theatre.

“My favourites were playing ‘Oliver’ in ‘The Adventures of Oliver Twist’ – this was nominated for a Naledi Award.

“I also played James in ‘James and the Giant Peach’ and George in ‘George’s Marvellous Medicine’ at the National Children’s Theatre. I haven’t done any shows this year because I have been concentrating on my piano.”

He said he also likes to read (mainly fiction) and to watch TV. He loves Harry Potter, the Divergent series and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night.

At such a young age, Sam has managed to cram a great deal into his life and has enjoyed an incredible musical run. A highlight so far, he said, was definitely playing a concerto with the full Johannesburg Symphony Orchestra. “I also love winning trophies.”

Sam will finish his schooling and then decide whether to make music his career. But, whatever he chooses to do, this bright young man is bound to be a success.

 Before finding out that he was going to be performing in “A Handful of Keys”, he told the SA Jewish Report that he dreams of one day being able to do a show in a big theatre like the Teatro at Montecasino. Well, he is just one theatre away from his dream coming true.  

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