Francois Botha commenced his classical training in 2001 after four years of jazz piano lessons with Fred Kuit. After receiving a music scholarship in 2004 he studied piano with Beverly Howman at Bishops Diocesan College until 2008. During this period he took top prizes at numerous local eisteddfods and competitions including the Cape Town and Afrikaans Eisteddfods and the Fish Hoek Music Bursary Competition. He has also been a keen participant in the Stellenbosch Chamber Music Festival and Piano Symposium.
In 2009 Francois began a BMus degree at UCT where he is currently studying piano under the guidance of Albie van Schalkwyk. Since being at UCT he has received various scholarships and bursaries and has performed at events such as student quarterly concerts, various music competitions, his own lunch-hour recital in the Baxter Theatre last year and at private functions and recitals such as The Owl Club.
As a soloist, Francois has performed with the UCT Symphony orchestra, conducted by Alexander Fokkens, and the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra, under the baton of Lykele Temmingh, in the KZN National Concerto Festival, 2010.
Francois has also been involved in many orchestras as a double bassist and has played as the principal double bassist of the National Youth Orchestra. He also currently holds this position in the UCT Symphony Orchestra.
I first had the great pleasure of hearing Francois playing the piano at Music Evenings when he and my sons were pupils at Bay Primary School in Kalk Bay. After Francois had sent me his ‘biography’ above, I asked him a few personal questions. His replies to them follow. Viv
I started playing the piano when I was 5 years old and started taking lessons when I was 7. My interests nowadays include swimming, running, going to the beach and playing some more casual sport with friends (soccer, squash, etc.), hiking and I read as much as I can. Have also recently started to learn Spanish but it’s still in the very early stages!
My whole family is enjoys music and I can’t remember a day where there hasn’t been some music (especially jazz) pumping from the hi-fi in our house. My dad is a very gifted amateur jazz guitarist and is constantly introducing me to new music and my mom could always play a bit of piano – there has luckily always been one standing in the house. I don’t think I would ever have become a musician if it hadn’t been for the interest and feel for music that my parents stimulated in me from an early age. I have recently gotten more involved in my jazz playing again, specifically on the double bass and I have my first big jazz gig in Hermanus at the end of March, which I’m very excited about. My two brothers John and Benjamin play guitar, piano and drums between them.
With a music degree there is always a certain amount of mystery as to what you will end up doing afterwards – the most common career path being teaching I think. Although I love to teach (I have recently started doing so on certain afternoons at the Hout Bay Music Project) I can’t imagine ever not wanting to perform and play music for people. I would love to travel and perhaps spend a few years studying overseas but exactly what I’ll be doing in ten years – or even 2 years! – is impossible to say. At the moment it’s all about studying, learning repertoire and building a good reputation around Cape Town in order to secure future engagements because to get work as a musician people must know who you are!