Maestro enthralls crowds at Artscape after 50 years

Reggie Dreyer, 74, finally fulfilled his dream of playing with a symphony orchestra.

A bright-eyed and bushy-tailed Reggie Dreyer had his dreams of playing in a symphony orchestra dashed in 1960 due to the discriminatory apartheid laws at the time.

The winds of change are now in his favour and Mr Dreyer performed Piano Concerto no 23 in A, K 488 by Mozart with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra at the Artscape Theatre Centre’s lunch hour concert on Tuesday March 7.

“In 1960 along with my piano teacher Ivy Parkin I went to audition but we were told I could not take part in the concert due to the colour of my skin. As time went on there was never money available for me to go overseas and play there. I am the second youngest of 12 children and I later became the mainstay in my family by supporting them financially,” he said.

Mr Dreyer persisted with his passion and furthered his training through the College of Music and later obtained, through correspondence, a Licentiate (LTCL) which is the equivalent to the final year of an undergraduate degree.

“I had to obtain practical training. Choir training is my forte and I have been a church organist at the Bergvliet Methodist Church for many years,” he explained.

As fate would have it Mr Dreyer was urged to contact the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) again and with University of Cape Town (UCT) teacher Franklyn Larey and the CPO’s resident conductor Brandon Phillips on the panel, he was offered the chance to audition again.

“In December last year I auditioned and I was given the opportunity to play the first movement of the Mozart Concerto. I was very happy to hear the news because it has always been a wish of mine. I have hoped to play the entire concerto but I am pleased with the opportunity they have given me,” he said.

As the apartheid regime’s laws became more stringent and violence erupted in the country Mr Dreyer ploughed all his energy into his music. “I did not want to get involved in the political scrimmages at the time. I’m a Christian and my faith kept me going,” he said.

Mr Dreyer has stayed in Retreat with his wife Mattie, 70, for the past 40 years.

“We have been married for 48 years and she is my biggest supporter. We have three children and seven grandchildren scattered across the world.

“I think Mattie is more excited about this opportunity than I am,” he quipped.

His community has reaped the benefits of his passion and he was instrumental in starting the first choir and jazz band at South Peninsula High School. He said that he has been inspired by prolific composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Franz Schubert, Frédéric Chopin and Johann Sebastian Bach among others. Mr Dreyer stills gives piano lessons to a few select pupils at his house.

Louis Heyneman, CEO of the CPO said: “With Qden Blaauw, the youngest and Reggie Dreyer at the upper end as soloists in the CPO free lunch hour concert in the Artscape Chandelier Foyer, there’s no doubt that the two organisations are creating a space for everyone.”

Artscape CEO Marlene le Roux added that the concert series tied into Artscape’s objective to keep theatre doors open to patrons and stages open to performers who were denied access in the past.

“Artscape also recognises the immense challenges facing the youth of today inclusive of socio-economic issues which through our programmes we can help to resolve some of these challenges.”

Mr Dreyer encouraged aspiring musicians to vehemently pursue their dreams.

“I think one shouldn’t give up. You need to be serious about your dream and not become distracted. I want to encourage pupils to persist, persist, persist,” he added.