Coulter, John


COULTER, John Reid 


b Potchefstroom, 16 April 1958


John Reid Coulter completed his undergraduate music studies at Potchefstroom University in 1979, majoring in performance and composition. After a period of postgraduate studies in London he returned to SA in 1982 and has subsequently held posts at the University of Potchefstroom and later at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. 


During the 1980's he built his own harpsichord and fortepiano and performed extensively throughout South Africa, promoting seldom heard early keyboard literature. He has also been the recipient of numerous awards and commissions for composition. Many of his organ works are performed regularly both in South Africa and in Europe. One of his most recent organ work ~ O tshwanetse go reetsa (Tswana: You must listen!) for organ duo was performed on a number of occasions in 1997 and was well received at the recent Composers' Workshop with George Crumb in May 1997.

His interest in Historical Performance Practice led to a period of study with Maria Boxall, concentrating on early keyboard fingering. In 1990 he was a participant in the 

masterclasses under Ton Koopman at the Utrecht International Harpsichord Symposium. From 1993 to 1995 he studied harpsichord with Jacques Ogg at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, obtaining the Certificaat and Diploma Vrije Studie in harpsichord. During this period he performed extensively in Holland, Germany and Norway as solo harpsichordist and continuo player. 


Since 1996 John has resumed his teaching position as Principal Tutor and head of Practical Studies at the WITS School of Music and has brought a new approach of Historical Performance Practice to the School in the formation of the WITS Baroque Ensemble. In May 1997 he co-ordinated and directed the first performance in South Africa of the concerti for 2, 3, and 4 harpsichords by J.S. Bach using instruments tuned to Baroque pitch as well as using 18th century performance methods as far as possible. He has given a number of public lectures and workshops in the field of Historical Performance Practice and hopes to achieve wider reception and acceptance of this undervalued approach to music from the past. In October 1997, as part of the WITS University 75th anniversary celebrations John was artistic director of the WITS School of Music JUBILEE FESTIVAL. This event hosted a number of overseas performers and included concerts by many local artists as well. 


John has recently become involved as a trustee in the BUSKAID Soweto String Project under the leadership of the British violist & accomplished string teacher, Rosemary Nalden. In September 1998 John visited Harare and gave two very successful concerts with Anna Stoddard (harpsichord) and the Harare Chamber Players. These concerts consisted of concertos for two harpsichords and it was the first ever public concert in Harare using Baroque temperament and pitch as well as the first duo performance of works for two harpsichords on historical copies. In April of 1999 he again visited Zimbabwe to perform with the well-known Baroque violinist Elizabeth Wallfisch in the Bulawayo Music Festival. In June he accompanied in the Walter van Hauwe recorder masterclasses in Pretoria and in July performed in London with the English Baroque Soloists under Sir John Eliot Gardiner in a benefit concert for Buskaid. During September he hosted the American Baroque violinist Jonathan Talbott and the South African-born baroque harpist Maxine Eilander (both resident in The Hague) for a highly successful week of concerts and workshops with the Wits Baroque Ensemble.


John is also active in the ensemble HORTUS MUSICUS that performs instrumental and vocal music from Medieval to early Baroque music. Projects for 2000 included a variety of concerts with the WITS Baroque Ensemble as well as four concerts in Oslo in July. His composition ‘In Seven Days…’ for multimedia and orchestra was performed at the opening and closing functions of the URBAN FUTURES Conference held at Wits in July. In July 2001 he participated in the baroque oboe class under Alfredo Bernardini held in Urbino, Italy. John is currently free-lancing as a performer and teacher. The Wits Baroque Ensemble is now known as ‘Banda di Giovanni’ and will be engaged in a number of performances during the coming year.

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