Dig deep. That’s what Covid-19 allowed Megan-Geoffrey Prins (pictured left), the Riversdale-born soloist in the final CPO Winter Symphony Series concert at the end of July, to do over the past year. And by digging deep he means analysing his playing and his teaching methods.
Prins is a performer as well as a lecturer in piano at the University of Pretoria, where he has been giving both in-person and online lessons to private students.
“Although challenging and sometimes even frustrating, this has been a time of rest and introspection, a time in which I had the time to slow down. Apart from increasing my teaching, my wife, Kerri, and I learned to cook a great many new recipes and do some recreational reading, like Educated by Tara Westover, which I enjoyed very much,” says Prins.
Of course he practiced, because the last few months did include several concerts and recitals.
“I’ve been fortunate to have a few online engagements – for instance an online concert with the Amici Quartet for Concerts Connect, a recording with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra with conductor Brandon Phillips where I performed Mozart’s Piano concerto in A major, no. 23, K488 and a handful of other live concerts, most recently in Knysna. But overall, things really slowed down for our industry,” he continues.
Thrilled to play a concerto
His performance of the Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 with the Cape Town Philharmonic, released as a cyber symphony on 29 July, is not his first concerto performance in the last year or so. But it does please him enormously to perform the Beethoven.
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to play a concerto and I’m equally excited to work with Bernhard Gueller and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra again. For me, Beethoven’s music has so much depth and it is spiritually rewarding every time I play his music.
“It’s a rare and beautiful experience to be able to make music with other people during these challenging times. Like most, I miss the interaction with an audience and although Covid restrictions put paid to a limited live audience at least I have 50 other musicians as my audience.” The applause that followed the rehearsals and the recordings was very meaningful to him.
He can’t wait to get back to ‘normal’.
“We all need to experience the excitement in a full hall. This pandemic has taught me how much we as performers really do need the audience. We feed off their energy and I believe performance is a two-way endeavour.
“As pianists, I am fortunate to have access to a vast amount of repertoire and this is what has kept me going.,” Prins continues. “I’ve had the freedom to expand my repertoire and I have even been learning some interesting new music. No one piece of music has sustained me, but I’ve had the privilege of learning many new concertos in particular. I’ve worked on the Brahms piano concertos, Prokoviev’s second piano concerto, the Grieg piano concerto, Rachmaninoff’s fourth piano concerto, and Chopin’s first piano concerto. I’ve also learned other interesting works such as a piano transcription of Stravinsky’s Petrushka.”
We must persevere
Prins concludes: “As artists, we must persevere to get through these difficult times. We must communicate with each other – perhaps one good thing about Covid is that online communication has become more important and I ‘talk’ often to friends.”
These include Antonio Pompa-Baldi with whom he studied in Cleveland and friends made when he was performing in / winning competitions in Canada, Hong Kong and of course UNISA or in his collaborations with musicians and orchestra here, North America, Europe – Switzerland, Germany, Italy France – and in places like Botswana and Mozambique in Africa.
What: Winter Cyber Symphonies Season, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Bernhard Gueller (conductor), Megan-Geoffrey Prins (piano) | Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 3 and Symphony No. 40 by Mozart
Where and when: Streamed on the Quicket platform from July 29 – August 3 2021