Ronnie Samaai (83) is stepping down from the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO), after 20 years on the board as chair of the Youth Development Committee.

Over the years, Samaai oversaw the orchestra’s vast development and skills transfer projects. Now, as he steps down, the CPO has given him a special award, the Order of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.

This is only the fourth time the award has been presented, as it is only given to those who have made a huge impact on the orchestra. The CEO of the CPO, Louis Heyneman, says Samaai was a force behind the youth education and development projects.

“Ronnie has played an indelible role in quality transformation. His background in teaching and his commitment to youth stemming from the pre-1990s has made him one of the most honoured and honourable music educators in the country,” said Heyneman.

According to the CPO Board Chairman Derek Auret, Samaai has been a pillar of strength to the organisation. Auret said that Samaai’s “contribution in elevating the CPO to the position in which it finds itself nationally and internationally”, through his commitment to advancing youth, has been immense.

To Samaai, Auret said, “For that we salute you and we honour you. You will be missed but you leave with the satisfying knowledge that your work at CPO remains as testimony to a job well done and to a great and grand achievement. No-one can ask for more than that.”

Samaai, who turns 84 soon, said that it has been a privilege to work with everyone at the CPO, and to be given the platform to voice his opinion.

“These are unprecedented times and I look forward to watching as the CPO rides the storm and goes on to be bigger, stronger and even more successful. I am proud to have been part of the changes,” said Samaai.

He has had a career filled with music, as he served as a music educator his entire professional life. Samaai has been awarded licentiates from the Royal Schools of Music and Trinity College, London, followed by becoming a Fellow of Trinity College.

He also gained a BMus from UNISA and studied further at Trinity College on a scholarship from the British Council, a turning point which made him dedicate his life to giving South Africa’s young children a start in music. He taught for nearly 40 years, retiring in 1996 as vice-rector of the Bellville College of Education, and has been involved in projects such as the Western Cape Music Education Project in Kuil’s River.

Picture: Supplied

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