Members and Judges

Get to Know the Members

Carin van Heerden

Carin van Heerden was born in Cape Town (South Africa). She studied in Cologne, Germany and in Amsterdam, Netherlands, recorder with Günther Höller and Walter van Hauwe and baroque oboe with Helmut Hucke. She was the winner of international music competitions, among them the renowned international ARD competition in Munich (1988). She was professor for recorder at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and the Cologne Musikhochschule. She taught the baroque oboe and recorder (1993 to 2023) and headed the Institute for Early Music and Performance Practice (2010 to 2019) at the Anton Bruckner Privatuniversität in Linz. Carin van Heerden is co-founder of the Austrian L’Orfeo Barockorchester, directed by Michi Gaigg, and performs with this orchestra (also as soloist) in Europe and South Africa. She recorded for cpo, Cavalli Records and Sony. She is the German translator of Bruce Haynes’ monumental work „The eloquent Oboe “. She is often invited as member of the jury at international competitions for Early Music and for master classes internationally.

Julien Benichou

Hailed as “one of the most interesting and accomplished conductors of his generation,” Julien Benichou is noted for his blend of flexibility and control, inspiring musicality and incredibly infectious energy. Benichou currently serves as Music Director for the Mid-Atlantic Symphony Orchestra (MSO), and was recently appointed Principal Conductor of the Washington Opera Society. He is also the Music Director of the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra (CYSO) and the Southern Maryland Youth Symphony Orchestra (SMYOC). This past December, he made his debut with the New York City Ballet, in Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, and returned to Carnegie Hall, in a concert that featured Robert Redford and Vice-President Al Gore.

As Music Director of the MSO for the last 12 seasons, Benichou has greatly raised the profile of the ensemble, attracting premier artists, as well as expanding the orchestra’s season. This year, he collaborates with Stefan Jackiw, Virgil Boutellis-Taft, Kurt Nikkanen, Brandie Sutton and Leon Fleisher. Previous seasons have included concerts with such noted artists as Kevin Short, Lester Lynch, Arnaud Sussmann and Tine Thing Helseth.

Served by a keen attention to detail and an ability to bring forth a wealth of expression from singers, Benichou has also found success conducting operatic productions. Most recently, as principal conductor of Washington Opera Society, he conducted La Cenerentola at the French Embassy, and L’elisir d’amore at the Residence of the Ambassador to Colombia. This June, he will conduct their production of Carmen with Jonathan Tetelman as Don José. He has conducted, to great critical acclaim, fully staged performances of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess with the Morgan State University Choir and Opera Workshop. In September of 2016 he conducted the premiere performance of James Lee’s Mother’s Lament with the Morgan State University Choir.

Benichou has also garnered acclaim as guest conductor at the Annapolis Symphony, Newark Symphony, Ballet Theatre of Maryland, Baltimore Concert Opera, Baltimore Symphony/Mobtown Modern Synchronicity projects, Orquestra Sinfonica do Parana in Curitaba, Brazil, the St. Petersburg State Symphony in Russia, the Maison Symphonique de Montreal in Canada, and the Siberian State Symphony in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, where he will return next season. Other return engagements will include a collaboration with Tim Janis at Carnegie Hall.

An avid supporter of new music, Benichou collaborated with many composers and was the Principal Conductor of the Towson New Music Ensemble for ten seasons. He also served as principal conductor for the Mobtown Modern Ensemble. Also a composer, Benichou has received commissions for theater, film and concert music; most recently from the Siberian State Symphony Orchestra.

Benichou has taken the Chesapeake Youth Orchestra on six different European tours, performing side-by-side concerts with the Orchestre des Jeunes de Montréal and the St. Petersburg State Symphony. He also brought the orchestra to prestigious venues such as Carnegie Hall. The orchestra has been invited by several festivals in France, with an upcoming tour where they will premiere Lalo Schifrin’s Mandolin Concerto with Vincent Beer-Demander.

Julien Benichou also enjoys crossover and pops concerts, and has worked with The US Army Blues Big Band, the Army Strings, the Irish band Lunasa, and such artists as Warren Wolf, Mairead Nesbitt, Loreena McKennitt, Sarah McLachlan, and Matthew Morrison.

Benichou received a Graduate Performance Diploma from The Peabody Institute and earned a Master’s Degree from Northwestern University. He also pursued graduate studies at Yale University. In master classes he has worked with Leonard Slatkin, Yuri Temirkanov, Marin Alsop, Michael Tilson Thomas and JoAnn Falletta. His main teachers have been Victor Yampolsky, Gustav Meier and Jorma Panula.

Before coming to the United States, he trained in France, with Roland Hayrabedian and Pol Mule at the Marseille Conservatory and Jean Sébastien Bereau at the Rueil- Malmaison Conservatory, as well as privately with Yves Cohen. He also studied harmony and counterpoint with Pierre Doury at the Schola Cantorum in Paris.

Prof Danré Strydom

Danrè Strydom has established herself as one of South Africa’s premier solo, chamber and orchestral musicians through her global concert experience. Born in South Africa, she began her musical training in neighbouring country Namibia. After attending the Interlochen Arts Camp, USA, she began her formal studies with Heinrich Armer at the University of the Free State in South Africa. She furthered her studies at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, where she worked with renowned clarinetists Eli Eban and Eric Hoeprich. She holds separate Master’s Degrees in Clarinet, Early Clarinet – and Bass Clarinet Performance from the Royal Conservatory at Ghent University, completed under the guidance of Eddy Vanoosthuyse. Danre completed her Phd in clarinet performance at the Odeion School of Music, UFS. She has won numerous awards, including the ATKV cultural diversity award, FAK music award, R. Muller award for cultural and academic excellence and the First National Bank Prize of excellence. Danre has performed as soloist with various orchestra in South Africa and is an avid chamber musician. After playing clarinet/bass clarinet ad hoc for the award-winning Brussels Philharmonic from 2008 to 2013, she accepted a position as woodwind lecturer at the University of the Free State’s Odeion School of Music (OSM). Danre is the Continental Chair of the International Clarinet Association. She has been selected to be a Buffet Crampon Artist (2015), being the first South African representative and is currently principal clarinetist of the Free State Symphony Orchestra.

Dr Jan Beukes

Jan Beukes obtained the degrees BMus, BMusHons, MMus, and PhD (Music) from the UFS and a Licentiate in Organ Performance from UNISA. He took part in masterclasses with Ludger Lohmann (Germany), Ewald Kooman (The Netherlands), Wolfgang Rubsam (USA) and Jacques van Oortmerssen (The Netherlands). Since 2002 he lectures organ and organ method at the then Department of Music (UFS) and joins the permanent staff in 2010. He frequently gives solo organ recitals and is actively involved in departmental concerts, especially as chamber musician. In 1998 Jan received an award from UNISA for outstanding music tuition, and since his appointment in 2002 his students have won various awards and competitions. Jan is currently Artistic & Operational Head of the Odeion School of Music.

Prof Johan Ferreira

Johan Ferreira started playing the oboe at the age of 15 after a brief stint on the violin (which he regards as being rather unsuccessful). He is currently a freelance oboist around South Africa, regularly appearing as ad-hoc member of the oboe sections of the KZN Philharmonic, Johannesburg Philharmonic, Eastern Cape Philharmonic, and the Free State Symphony. Critics have described his playing as “surreal” (, March 2021) and “insightful and outstanding” (Volksblad, November 2019). He is a member of the wind quintet AirFlair, which performs on a regular basis in and around Gauteng. In 2016 he obtained an LRSM in oboe performance from the ABRSM, in 2017 a PhD in Mathematical Statistics from the University of Pretoria (UP), and performed at the Cape Town Concert Series in 2018. Johan has performed a variety of concerti with orchestra (Mozart, Marcello, Bach, Bellini, Vivaldi) in collaboration with established artists such as Zanta Hofmeyr, and regularly performs at the Wakkerstroom Music Festival and the GauFestival in Pretoria in collaboration with close colleague Laetitia Orlandi. Johan studied towards an MMus degree in oboe performance at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg in 2018, under the tutelage of Jenny Johnson of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in New Zealand. Apart from maintaining a full-time freelancing career in South Africa, Johan is an associate professor in the Department of Statistics at UP undertaking research in fundamental statistical theory with a cohort of postgraduate students under his supervision.

Handri Loots

After completing the BMus Hons degree under the tutelage of John Hinch at the University of Pretoria, Handri Loots  continued her studies in the United Kingdom under the revered flute pedagogue Trevor Wye. She later received tuition from Jonathan Booty and Andrew Nicholson in the UK and in Finland with the French flutist Emma Tessier. Handri is a laureate of the SA National Flute Competition presented by the FLUFSA. She was a prize-winner of several competitions, including the ATKV Forte competition, Oude Meester Foundation Music Competition, Jim Joël Scholarship competition, SASOL Music Competition, and the Unisa Licentiate Competition.   She was selected to attend the International Bottineau Music Camp for Woodwinds in the USA at the age of seventeen. She has held the position of the principal piccolo in the then PACT Philharmonic Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra in Johannesburg and is still a founder member of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra. She teaches at Pretoria Boys’ High School and has joined the teaching faculty of the UFS Odeion School of Music in 2014 in an ad hoc capacity. Handri is an enthusiastic chamber musician. She also has a keen interest in early music and performs on the baroque flute with Ensemble Fons Partita in South Africa and continues to have masterclasses with European early music specialists.

Liam Burden

Saxophonist and conductor, Liam Burden teaches saxophone and clarinet at the Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre where he is Departmental Head: Woodwinds, Brass, Percussion, and Piano and is the principal conductor of the Hugo Lambrechts Symphony Orchestra. He lectures saxophone at Stellenbosch University on a part-time basis. Liam graduated from Stellenbosch University in 2012 with a BMus Honours cum laude. During his studies, he was afforded the opportunity to study at the West Virginia University, USA on an exchange programme studying with Dr Michael Ibrahim (saxophone) and Dr Mitchel Arnold (conducting). Liam graduated with an MMus (Cum laude) in 2021 with research into the repertoire performed by youth orchestras in South Africa. Liam has participated in all the major instrumental as well as conducting competitions in South Africa namely, the Len van Zyl Conductors Competition where he was a finalist in 2019 conductingthe Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, SAMRO Overseas Scholarship and Unisa Licentiate Competitions (saxophone), and ATKV Muziq Competition. Liam is an avid chamber musician having performed with the Connections Saxophone Quartet and is a founding member of the Intonga Reed Quintet, the first of its kind in South Africa. The Intonga Reed Quintet made their Woordfees debut in March of 2020 with a programme of newly composed works and arrangements by South African composers. Liam’s recent performance of Andy Scott’s Dark Rain, alongside fellow saxophonist Matthew Lombard and accompanied by the University of Stellenbosch Symphonic Wind Ensemble, was received with high praise. Liam’s students have competed and excelled in competitions locally and internationally and enjoy a busy performing schedule at home and abroad. As conductor of the Hugo Lambrechts Symphony Orchestra, Liam has conducted many concerts in the Hugo Lambrechts Auditorium such as the annual Concerto Festival, often premiering new South African compositions. Under his baton, the Hugo Lambrechts Symphony Orchestra performed at the Greyton/Genadendal Classics for All and the Tulbagh Arts Festivals. In December 2016 they were awarded a gold medal at the International Festival of Advent and Christmas Music in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Jana Mathee

Jana Mathee studied piano with Truida van der Walt at the North-West University from 2000-2005. During her pre-graduate studies she received master classes from various internationally acclaimed pianists including Frank Heneghan (Ireland), Joseph Banowitz (USA), Caroline Oltmanns (USA), Vladimir Mogelevsky (Russia), Bryce Morrison (UK), Constance Carol (USA), and Thomas Hecht (USA). In 2004 she participated in a youth-concerto competition of the New Orleans Piano Institute. She obtained a Performance Licentiate in Vocal Accompaniment from UNISA in 2005. From 2006-2008 she was a member of the World Youth Choir and the World Chamber Choir and had the opportunity to work with conductors such as Peter Broadbent (England), Gunnar Erikson (Sweden), Peter Dijkstra (Netherlands), and Theodora Pavlovich (Bulgaria). She was a member of the Boulevard Harmonists in 2008. In 2009 she was appointed as part time pianist at the School of Music and Conservatory, North-West University. Jana mainly focuses on chamber music and vocal accompaniment. She has a keen interest in vocal music, especially the art song, and started singing lessons with Werner Nel in 2012. During the same year she performed as soloist with the Austrian Baroque orchestra L’Orfeo during their South-African tour. She receives master classes in singing from Maarten Koningsberger in 2014. In 2015 she obtains a Performance Diploma in Singing with distinction from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. In October 2017 she received an IRECO-award for Creative Outputs from the North-West University for a performance with her husband and duo-partner, Dolf Mathee. In the same year she also received a Vice-Chancellor’s-award for the same concert. In 2018 she obtained a master’s degree with distinction in Piano Performance at the North-West University with Albie van Schalkwyk as mentor. Jana has been appointed as accompanist at the School of Music and Conservatory, North-West University, since 2014. She’s currently enrolled for a doctoral degree in piano performance at the NWU with Albie van Schalkwyk as mentor.