Daniel masters the art of conducting

The booklet which gives details about the master class Daniel Fritz completed.

A Newfields man was one of just 10 people selected from across the world to attend an international conducting master class with maestro Martin Sieghart from the Netherlands.

Daniel Fritz, 54, is still fired up from his experience a month after returning from the Czech Republic, where the master class was held with Mr Sieghart and the North Bohemian Theatre.

As part of the selection criteria, Mr Fritz had to send the organisers a video recording of his musical abilities before being accepted onto the course.

“One has to meet a certain standard to be an active participant. There were nine other international conducting students who did the course with me. The course, which was from Monday April 3 to Saturday April 8, was short and very intense. It was all about us improving our craft of conducting,” Mr Fritz said.

When asked how he came to know about this master class, Mr Fritz said he keeps abreast of any developments in the world of classical music, and one way was to subscribe to online newsletters in relating to the topic. He also often searches for information about courses on the internet.

Mr Fritz is a former teacher whose love for classical music started as a young chorister at the Anglican church of the Resurrection in Bonteheuwel.

“I come from the hands of my former mentor, Henry King, at the church. He trained so many, and a lot of good musicians come from his hands. He invested in us in a big way and I still think he is one of the best choir masters in Cape Town,” Mr Fritz said.

He also paid tribute to his current mentor, Alan Stephenson, who is training him in choral conducting.

Over the years, Mr Fritz joined another church, but his love for classical music resulted in him taking part in his first major concert, which was held at the church where his interest was aroused so many years ago.

“I did a teaching qualification at the then Hewitt College, and an Honours degree in management in education, but classical music and conducting have always been my passion.

“So in 2004, I did a performance diploma in conducting at the SA College of Music, based at the University of Cape Town, and that same year I did my first major concert in Bonteheuwel with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra and a community choir, which music colleagues and I put together. Music is always about collaboration.You cannot do it in isolation.”

According to Mr Fritz, it takes many years to become a professional conductor, and although he started on this course later in life, he is working hard towards becoming just that – a professional conductor. Part of this involved developing a good repertoire and fine-tuning the skill of conducting.

He said if there were more opportunities when he was growing up, he would have been an established classical musician now.

“It has always been my dream to be a conductor. If I had more options as a youngster, I would have made music my career. God has a destiny for us all. I want to do this full-time, and musicians always have to make things for themselves. At the moment, I teach piano and violin.

“We should not allow our circumstances to dictate our future, however. I want to encourage everybody to go for their dreams, and not worry about the money needed for it. My family, and our church, the Evangelical Community Church in Beacon Valley, came alongside me and helped me to raise the money needed for me to attend the master class in the Czech Republic. I went there, first as an ambassador for Christ, then to represent my family and church, and my country. I was given the opportunity to conduct an international orchestra during the course, and it was a very good experience,” Mr Fritz said.

Beyond his passion for music, Mr Fritz also feels that it can be used to deal with socio-economic challenges in society.

“We need to carry on investing in the arts in South Africa. Music is a part of our solution to all the social problems. It is also a good source for job creation,” he added.