Lara Kirsten is a pianist and performance poet. After completing her high school career at the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg in 1997, Lara received her BMus and BMus Honours degrees, both cum laude at the University of Pretoria. Joseph Stanford and Wessel van Wyk were her mentors in solo piano and chamber music respectively. In 1999 she was awarded a SAMRO bursary for undergraduate students. In 2002 she received her chamber music licentiate from UNISA. She was appointed junior lecturer at the University of Pretoria where she taught piano from 2003 to 2005.
For the past decade Lara has been active as both a solo and chamber musician performing with musicians such as soprano Linda van Coppenhagen, tenor Sandile Mabaso, clarinetist Morné van Heerden and cellists Wessel Beukes and Francois le Roux. She often performs her poetry within her music recitals. She has performed in venues such as the Sandton Theater on the Square, the Baxter concert hall in Cape Town, the Voortrekker Monument in Pretoria, the Guy Butler Theater in Grahamstown and the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg.
Lara has performed at the Wakkerstroom Music Festival, the McGregor Poetry Festival, the AfrikaBurn Festival in the Tankwa Karoo, the Woordfees in Stellenbosch, the FynArts Festival in Hermanus, The Hilton Arts Festival and the Michaelhouse Music Festival in KwaZulu-Natal.
For the last five years Lara has been based in the Midlands of KwaZulu-Natal from where she travels with her concert tours. She also teaches piano from her home. From 2014-2017 Lara has been invited to serve as adjudicator for the Pietermaritzburg Eisteddfod of the South African Society of Music Teachers.
Since 2007 Lara’s poetry has been published in the South African Literary Journal New Contrast. In 2008 she became part of the Eastern Cape poet-group, Ecca, who presents readings and publishes collectively each year. In 2015 and 2016 poems by Lara have been selected to feature in the Sol Plaatje European Union Poetry Anthology.
Lara’s poetry and creative projects can be viewed on her blog at http://laraafrika.blogspot.com/