Ten days of master classes and concerts in Italy, following a month of holidays in and around London (which included taking in concerts at the Wigmore Hall and Royal Festival Hall), shows just how much the life of Jordan Brooks, former concertmaster of the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra has changed.

Jordan, now 18, has evolved from a Cape Town schoolboy to a man of the world since he accepted a full scholarship at Chetham’s School of Music in Manchester in the UK last year. He returned to Cape Town for one concert with The Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra and the Korngold Violin Concerto which streams in the Winter Cyber Symphonies series from September 23.

In Italy, Jordan received masterclasses and performed several concerts for the community of Sant’Agata Feltria south east of Bologna in a course run by his teacher, Jan Repko, of the Royal College of Music.

Jordan Brooks violinist
Jordan Brooks

Loud applause

He arrived in Cape Town the day of his first rehearsal, not looking forward to the return to the UK which promised a 14-day quarantine at a cost of R45 000 in a hotel in London … until some research showed that an exemption was possible made for boarding school learners. So, Jordan quarantined in his school.

But even if he had been forced to lie low in a hotel, he would have still be a happy young man, who turned 18 the day after his concert was filmed in The City Hall in August, 2021. It was a fine performance which was greeted by loud applause by the entire orchestra.

For Jordan, the last year has been very eventful. He has taken full advantage of school holidays and explored London and its “vibrant energy” and the countryside of the UK.

“At school in Manchester I had a lot of fun with chamber music collaboration projects we did with various musicians across the UK.” But of course there were low points, and getting Covid early this year away from his family, was his first. Fortunately, he wasn’t too ill. “The UK was also on a full lockdown at this time, so we all had to do online school for about eight weeks. It was tough mentally and physically,” he says.

Nevertheless, he settled in well.

“School is going really well. I am currently doing my A levels, which is basically like a two-year bridging course to prepare one for university or conservatoire. The curriculum is very different to the SA curriculum, as the A level course only requires me to do a minimum of two subjects, and I chose mathematics, and naturally, music.”

Coming up soon are a date to perform the Korngold Concerto in The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester, but he does need to concentrate on his final academic year which ends in June. After that he hopes to be able to continue with his studies in London with fellow South African Jan Repko at The Royal College.

Jordan and Repko both knew the Korngold was just right for him. “It is  one of the most charismatic concertos I have ever heard and played. It is jam packed with energy, many colours, fantasy, emotions, and character. There is almost no limit to what the soloist can do with interpretation and execution, which is one of the reasons I admire this concerto a lot.”

Jordan says he when filming was over, with Jeremy Silver on the podium, he “felt relieved and humbled for the opportunity to perform such great work with the orchestra.”

Who: Spring Cyber Symphonies Season 2021
With: Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Jeremy Silver conductor, Jordan Brooks (violin)
When: Convert streamed on the Quicket platform from 23 – 27 September 2021