The CPO Youth Wind Ensemble is young in spirit – regardless of the ages of the musicians in the band, says PETA STEWART:
While the youngest member of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra’s Youth Wind Ensemble, preparing for the SoundsCape concert at Artscape on 5 May 2019 is just 14, the oldest is 70! Charles Mauger (pictured left) plays the bass clarinet in the band.
The rousing programme will offer some of the most winning wind band originals and arrangements from ABBA to John Williams, via Gershwin, Freddie Mercury, and Chick Corea! Soloists include the popular singers that make up Asili along with other instrumentalists on percussion, violin and guitar.
Marvin Weavers, the CPO’s youth education co-ordinator, says the CPO Youth Wind Ensemble just loves working with Charles.
“He’s funny, young at heart, plays the bass clarinet really well, turns up on time, is always prepared and professional, and is a mentor to so many such as our youngest musician, Liam Petersen, 14, who plays euphonium (pictured below), ” says Weavers.
Adds conductor Faan Malan: “Charles is a great asset. He teaches us what it means to be young at heart. Something we – even the youth – can all aspire to.”
Charles even played his Trinity College exam at the age of 68, no mean feat for people a quarter his age!
A rare instrument
The bass clarinet is a reasonably rare instrument and is needed in a wind band, and there are not too many young people who own one or can play one well, so Charles is a real asset to the CPO Youth Wind Ensemble.
He retired ten years ago after 40 years in the banking/credit industry. He started learning to play the clarinet with a clarinettist in the National Symphony Orchestra, joined the Light Horse Regiment band when he was doing camps for National Service and then the South African & Harbours Band.
Returning to Cape Town in 1982, he played with some amateur orchestras and chamber music groups, using music to guide him through stressful times such as the death of his wife and demanding jobs.
“About five years ago I had the good fortune to meet Faan Malan, the CPYWE’s conductor, and his wife, wind band specialist teacher Kim. I jumped at taking lessons from Kim – and it has been such a joy studying under her. Kim organised wind quintets but we lacked a bass clarinet so I decided to take that up as well.”
Charles fell in love with the “absolute richness of the instrument”, to the point of attending a bass clarinet course in the UK where he played “awesome music” with 20 other bass clarinet performers.
“Imagine how I felt? It was a dream come true!” he smiles.
A little later he attended a wind extravaganza in the UK for a week.
“Music is now my new life and through it I have made some wonderful and amazing friends,” he says.
Happy and having fun
Charles became the official bass clarinet in the Windworx band and was delighted when Faan asked him if he would play for CPYWE. “Of course I am grateful for any opportunity to play, especially with a conductor with such passion and dedication. I get the feeling that the band players just love him and his guiding approach. He is always encouraging people to aim high. I absolutely enjoy playing with the young musicians in CPYWE. They are all SO talented and express so much energy and joy, it makes me feel young. My friends think it is really cool that I am playing in these bands and are pleased to see me so happy having fun,” says Charles.
Charles has been invited to join the DF Malan School Band on its tour in September to Germany, and apart from playing will assist the Finance Committee.
He feels music is a universal language – it knows no gender, age or race. A very senior player can make music with the youngest of players and still derive such joy and fun expressing harmony together.
What: CPO Youth Wind Ensemble
Where and when: Artscape Theatre on 5 May 2019