DMA student Ben Schoeman has been awarded the prize for the best rendition of a contemporary work at the prestigious Cleveland International Piano Competition in Ohio, USA. Schoeman performed the Toccata for John Roos by the South African composer Surendran Reddy (1962-2010). This Toccata includes several elements of South African jazz and mbaqanga dance music and is a highly virtuosic work. Schoeman was one of 28 selected participants who took part in the event. He was praised in Cleveland Classical by critic Daniel Hathaway, who wrote the following:
South African pianist Ben Schoeman brought the session to an end with Bach and Haydn that felt completely right. His reading of the Toccata, BWV 911 was dramatic in concept, full in tone, his playing virtuosic where it was meant to sound improvisatory and clear and neat when counterpoint was involved. Schoeman responded to Haydn’s delightful C major Sonata (Hob. XVI:50) with elegantly cheerful playing full of character and contrast and festooned with pearly passagework. South African composer Surendran Reddy’s Toccata for John Roos was pure dessert: jazzy, bluesy, caffeinated and just bordering on the pianistically trashy, Schoeman played it with amused glee.
After his success at the Cleveland Competition, Schoeman went on to give six recitals at the Royal Over-Seas League Concert Series that forms part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in Scotland. He also travelled to Bucharest to perform Liszt’s Piano Concerto no. 1 at the George Enescu International Festival, where he collaborated with conductor Vlad Vizireanu, members of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Camerata of Romania.
Mr. Schoeman has also recently been named a ‘Steinway Artist’. His name appears on an international roster of artists, including musicians such as Vladimir Horowitz, Martha Argerich, Radu Lupu as well as Schoeman’s teacher at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Prof. Ronan O’Hora.
Schoeman is currently completing his doctoral thesis on South African composer Stefans Grové’s piano music under the supervision of Dr. Christopher Wiley.