“De Vries coaxes and obtains an extraordinary range of tone and sound from her marimba in meeting the demands of the score“
Kanna nominee, Magdalena de Vries, is regarded as South Africa’s foremost classical marimbist.
A former student of Suzette Brits (Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre) De Vries won a large range of South African music prizes including two overseas scholarships, which enabled her to pursue postgraduate studies in percussion as the first foreign student at the Tokyo College of Music under Professor Atsushi Sugahara.
While in Japan, she was invited to join Percussion Museum (resident percussion ensemble in Tokyo), made her solo recital debut, received a Tokyo College of Music study grant and obtained a postgraduate diploma cum laude.
Whilst living in the UK (2000 – 2003) her musical engagements included a UK-France concert tour with Ensemble Bash; CD recordings with Errollyn Wallen and Continuum Ensemble; workshops run by Ensemble Bash, Sinfonia 21, spnm; performing with a variety of contemporary music groups including Premiere Crew, Modern Band and ESO at various venues, including Australia House (London), Purcell Room (London South Bank Centre), King’s College (Cambridge), Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and Linbury Studio Theatre (Royal Opera Covent Garden).
As orchestral percussionist, Magdalena has worked with the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra (Tokyo), attended the 2000 Festival de Musica de Canarias as member of the former Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, attended the 2014 Gabala International Music Festival (Azerbaijan) as member of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra and currently regularly works with the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra.
In May 2001 she won first prize in the Performing Australian Music Competition in London and was subsequently featured as guest soloist on the live broadcast of BBC3 In Tune.
In January 2003 she opened the series Music Oz: The Australia you’ve never heard before at St John’s Smith Square in London, and appeared on invitation of the Australian High Commissioner as guest artist at the Australia Day celebrations in London.
May 2003 saw the debut recital of EXPOSURE (marimba/saxophone duo with British saxophonist Sarah James) in London’s Purcell Room, and during June/July of the same year she returned to Tokyo on invitation of Prof. Sugahara to perform a series of solo, ensemble and orchestral concerts.
EXPOSURE continued their success by completing a South African concert tour in March/April 2004.
In 2003 she formed Duo FourIVTwo with South Africa’s foremost vibraphonist, Frank Mallows. The duo continues to perform to great acclaim throughout South Africa, specifically focusing on South African repertoire.
Magdalena has performed a large number of world premiéres including works by Errollyn Wallen, Peter Klatzow, Robert Fokkens, Paul Hanmer, Clare Loveday, Hendrik Hofmeyr, Andile Khumalo, Allan Stephenson and Braam du Toit. In 2016 she presented an entire programme of newly composed South African works for solo marimba. This performance, entitled Fragment, was nominated for a Kanna Awards for the Best Classical Music Performance at the 2016 KKNK.
Since 2005 her concerto performances included works by Ney Rosauro, Alan Hovhaness, Bela Bartok and Karl Jenkins. In June 2013 she performed the world premiére of Peter Klatzow’s Concerto for Marimba, Vibraphone and Strings; in November 2014 the world premiére of Toccata Exotica for solo marimba and orchestra by Allan Stephenson and in September 2016 Hendrik Hofmeyr’s Concerto for Marimba and Strings. In November 2016 she was one of the invited soloists to tour Russia as part of the SA-Russia Cultural exchange programme and performed to great acclaim in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
As recording artist, she is featured on CDs by Claire Johnston, Denzil Weale, Hannelie Rupert, Ockie Vermeulen and Duo FourIVTwo. Her 1st solo album – MarimBaroque – was released in November 2013.
As adjudicator, she was chairman of the Stellenbosch National Ensemble Competition (2005 – 2015) and has been on the panel of the Performing Australian Music International Competition in London, ATKV Muziq and the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship. As educator, she lectures marimba at Beaulieu Preparatory School, percussion at St Peter’s Preparatory School for Boys, Afrikaans Hoër Meisieskool (Pretoria) and the University of the Witwatersrand. She has also set all the percussion syllabi for the UNISA Directorate of Music practical examinations.
She holds a B Mus (UNISA); performer’s licentiate diplomas (with distinction) from both the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music and the University of South Africa and a Postgraduate Diploma (cum laude) from the Tokyo College of Music.
Magdalena continues to strive to expand the marimba repertoire by commissioning South African composers and promoting the classical marimba as a full-blown solo instrument.