About Friends of Orchestral Music (Cape Town)

The Friends of Orchestral Music (Cape Town) - FOM - is a non-profit organization which consists of a voluntary group of individuals and has as its main aim the support of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO), the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (CPYO) and other deserving classical music performers and artists in greater Cape Town.

FOM is administered by a Committee elected at the FOM Annual General Meeting and all its members are unpaid volunteers. Thus, virtually all the funds raised by FOM, except for a small percentage used to cover administrative costs (e.g. postage and stationery, ink cartridges for printers and website maintenance - less than 0.5% of funds raised), accrues to the CPO and other orchestral entities and individuals in the form of sponsorships for soloists and conductors and financial support in the form of bursaries for deserving music students.

The objectives of the Friends are described in its Constitution as follows:

  • “To assist in developing, generating and promoting awareness of orchestral music in greater Cape Town and surrounding areas in the Western Cape especially to the previously disadvantaged communities such that access to the participation in performances is ensured for all communities”;
  • “To raise funds to assist orchestras, directly or indirectly to promote orchestral playing and to assist existing or potential orchestral players with specific emphasis on fostering the playing of classical music among the previously disadvantaged communities”;
  • “To support, through financial contributions and scholarships, deserving students especially from previously disadvantaged communities to further their musical and instrumental studies with a view to pursuing a professional orchestral career. No profits or gains will accrue to any person and the funds of the Friends will be utilised solely for the above objectives”.

We have had the privilege of hearing exceptional soloists in concert with the orchestra and of witnessing the growth of new and exciting local artists through the orchestra's extensive outreach programme. Moreover, the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (CTPYO) is an example of how the outreach programme has led to the coming into being of a superb youth orchestra that consists predominantly of persons from previously disadvantaged communities. FOM also regularly funds deserving students and members of the CTPYO.

But it is a sad fact of life that the orchestra, one of the last remaining professional orchestras in South Africa, faces serious financial challenges. It receives very little financial support from the Cape Town City Council or the Provincial Government and none from the National Lottery. It therefore relies heavily on funds and donations from private sources. It is in this respect that FOM plays a significant role.

FOM, a registered non-profit organisation, raises funds for the CPO through its membership fees, soirées and gala events to which members of FOM have privileged access. Membership ranges from individual through family to corporate membership and members of FOM receive various benefits. In 2015 FOM could grant the CPO an amount for R300 000 and it could make several bursary awards to deserving but needy students to pursue their musical studies - a total amount of R170 000 was granted for this purpose. Further bursaries are under consideration. FOM is a major sponsor of the annual Franschhoek Mountain Chamber Music Festival that provides a week of training and mentoring to young music students of all races, colours and creeds from all over South Africa. It is of prime importance to FOM to ensure the continuation of classical music in Cape Town and to see it nurtured in previously disadvantaged communities. Attached is an example of one of our student bursars Noluvuyo Nteta, as well as a picture of the Franschhoek Mountain Chamber Music Festival Class of 2015. FOM was very happy to again donate an amount of R300 000 in 2016.

FOM also collects old musical instruments which it has restored and which are then presented to needy students. For example, it has had restored a piano that was presented to the Bloekombos Secondary school in Kraaifontein – another piano is currently under restoration – and has restored three violins which were presented to the CPO Youth Orchestra as well as having presented four recorders to the Youth Orchestra. Two more violins are currently undergoing restoration. A piano restoration can amount to anything from R10 000 to R16 000, and a violin from R2 000 to R5 000 depending on condition.

FOM is particularly pleased that it can continue with this work and is also happy to point out that it could almost quadruple the amount of sponsorship received through its activities – a commendable value-add indeed! Moreover, donations to FOM are not diluted through percentages paid to fundraisers and the entire quantum of any donation thus accrues to the cause for which it is intended.

It is regarding the development of talented musicians from previously disadvantaged communities that FOM is strongly oriented.

We are all part of a city that has experienced the privilege of enjoying music brought to us by a symphony orchestra that has performed in Cape Town for more than a hundred years. Every citizen of the City and each company or corporation that does business in Cape Town benefits directly or indirectly from its presence. The orchestra is at once a tourist draw card and an element that sets Cape Town apart, as it does other cities such as London, New York, Paris, Tokyo, Sydney, Hamburg, Copenhagen and many others who have symphony orchestras, from cities that are without doubt diminished for lack of such an important social structure.

Producing music of the highest quality is, inescapably and as befits any orchestra of standing, the major focus of the CPO and will remain so. However, it is proud that one of the main projects that it has established is its Outreach and Education Programme which aids young musicians in less affluent communities of the Cape Metropole. Investing in music education has an impact far beyond the music curriculum. Important life-skills are taught and learnt throughout the programme that is aimed specifically at, and benefits, the development of young musicians.

The provision of such organised extra-mural activities for youth, particularly those based in disadvantaged communities, provide alternative choices and options in what are often bleak circumstances. Offering music as this alternative has added advantages other than just a diversion from what could become a life involved in gangs, drugs or alcohol dependence, amidst few economic opportunities. In addition, music provides discipline and accountability to a larger group of peers and teachers, and it has a direct impact on developing self-esteem, relationship skills and emotional and behavioural (development) progression. It has been proven beyond doubt that an education in music has the potential to create a better and safer community for all.

For the CPO, and its audiences, to benefit from the talented young musicians who are being developed and nurtured in the Masidlale grassroots training project and who are progressing through the programmes of the Music Academy and youth orchestras, it needs to ensure that there are permanent positions available in the orchestra. This project is strongly supported by FOM in a variety of ways.

The CPO currently has a core of 47 permanent members and it has the long-term objective of expansion. Expanding the size of the permanent orchestra will ensure the retention of deserving young musicians, black and white, and lead to the creation of a more vibrant and dynamic company. This will also allow for significant transformation within the orchestra, as more permanent musicians can be employed, keeping them within the company instead of finding employment elsewhere. It is hoped that the transformation of the Orchestra with mentored musicians succeeding via the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Wind Ensemble and the Masidlale Projects in disadvantaged communities will further diversify audiences by bringing them from outlying areas to concert venues like the Cape Town City Hall.

The associated costs for a professional and a developmental orchestra vary from transport of musicians and venue hire to salaries, marketing and instrument purchase and repairs. To ensure a thriving, durable and world class orchestra these costs need to be met. FOM believes that it makes a healthy contribution in assisting the CPO to achieve all these objectives.

D W Auret
Chairman: Friends of Orchestral Music: (Cape Town)
NPO No.176-843
30 November 2016