Indeed, music can move mountains

Milton Oerson, a 93-year old music teacher from Cape Town, flew all the way to Johannesburg for the opening night of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF) after reading an interview about the premiere of the work of the son of his late friend.

Oerson, who was the music teacher and good friend of JIMF Composer-in-Residence Mokale Koapeng’s father, Tukisi Samuel Koapeng, felt that he wanted to make the trip to re-unite with the Koapang Jnr to share the unique occasion with him.

Oersen (93) studied music with Mark Radebe, who in 1930 founded the first Transvaal Eisteddfods. Oersen was also the teacher of the late Prof. Khabi Mngoma, SA opera star Sibongile Khumalo’s father. Mngoma, who also studied with Radebe, had a choir called the Ionian Music Society, and accompanied the choir on the piano.

“My dad sang for the choir,” said Koapeng. “Upon reading the interview (Sunday Times on January 16, No Minor Roles for Black Keys in Music) Oersen, who now resides in Cape Town, decided to fly up to Johannesburg to meet me and listen to the premiere of the choral work.

 He also attended the performance of two of my cello and piano works at the Northwards House. I had the opportunity to spend precious time with Oersen, his daughter and family friends, Ruth and Brooks Spector,” Koapeng added.

“It was so special for me, since I actually wished my late father could be there to experience the significant moment. And then God sent Oerten,” said Koapeng, who premiered his piece Dipesalema Tsa Dafita for few days in January as part of the opening concert of the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival.

Koapeng will conduct the SDASA Chorale on Saturday 5 February for the JIMF’s main Choral Concert which will run until February 13. The programme will feature works by Koapeng, Seoketsa, Dlamini, Mojapelo, Nhlapo, Mozart, Sibelius and Palmgren.

For tickets call (011) 447 9264 or visit

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