The Conductor

Gerben Grooten


Letter from the Conductor

Dear Music lovers,

My joy in conducting the UP orchestras from this year onward comes out of my deeply rooted love and history in orchestral playing and conducting.

When I came to SA 13 years ago I was supposed to only give master classes and workshops for two months. After my wife and I saw the enormous potential of the students and the lack of ensemble and performance opportunities, we did not take long to decide that we only wanted to go back to the Netherlands to pack our suitcases and so here we are, still, thirteen years later…., permanent residents.

In my excitement for music education I started the Hatfield Art Centre, two music schools and a music publishing house and record company, giving young talents a proper preparation for life in the arts and academic studies of arts. Teaching them practice methods, reflection and repetition methods and doing so, we have managed to deliver many successful musicians onto the music scene and universities. I have witnessed many of my former students appear with the professional orchestras and in productions, as well as successfully receiving their degrees at TUT, UNISA and the University of Pretoria.

Since the Arts Centre has found its feet and became a financially viable and successful business I have been releasing it in the hands of a next generation, freeing myself up to come on full time staff at UP and conducting those two  great orchestras. My heart is to secure the students to make a great transition into the market place.

By actively conducting so many amateur, community and professional orchestras in SA as well as working with radio, recording and TV from classical to big band, gospel and light music (Josh Groban, NAS, Timberland, Shakira, Alisha Keys, Robbie Williams, Skouspel) I have a present, active overview of the market place and enough methodological know-how in order to get the UP orchestral student connected into the market place.

Through my relationships with e.g. the Gauteng Philharmonic and the Pretoria Symphony orchestra I have been able to get internships and assistant conducting posts for my UP conducting students. I foresee many more possibilities since I am well connected nationally with the SA music industry.

The repertoire of the orchestra is going to be relevant and connecting to the needs of the South African music industry.

See you at our concerts,

Gerben Grooten



From an early age I have been involved in music. Starting traveling with orchestras from the age of 14, was admitted to the conservatory in Rotterdam at age 16 and working as a professional player in orchestras, performing, touring and recording in Europe, Africa, Canada and the USA.  From studying with many great conductors like Valery Gergiev, Arie van Beek, Claudio Abbado and performers like Robert van Sice and Randy Max, I obtained my Masters' Degrees in Classical Orchestral Percussion and Choir and Orchestra Conducting. Other instruments I play on a BMus level include piano and cello. In the last 30 years I have conducted various kinds of orchestras, choirs and contemporary ensembles in a wide range of musical styles. My heart has always been in music education and when I was 25 I became the deputy director and project coordinator at a creative arts institution of 2500 students where I also taught classical percussion and was the orchestra and choir conductor. Ever since, I have been working with many ensembles and orchestras as a conductor and with organisations and universities around the world giving workshops, team-building and leadership seminars in the areas of life-skill and arts management.

In South Africa, I have been lecturing orchestral conducting at universities and conduct and play regularly with Musical & TV productions and professional orchestras such as Free State Symphony Orchestra, Unisa Foundation Symphony Orchestra, Cape Festival Opera, Eastern Cape Philharmonic, Johannesburg Philharmonic and Johannesburg Festival Orchestra. In the last 10 years I have regularly conducted the South African National Youth Orchestras. I love adjudicating for art schools and cultural festivals and am excited about the incredible amount of young talent in this country. 

I am presently the principal conductor of the Pretoria Symphony Orchestra and the Pretoria Bach choir. Although In the last two years, I have once again found myself in demand internationally as a conductor, but I am certain of my calling in SA. I love the people, the potential and entrepreneurial opportunities of the country.


- Author Nicole Hoffmann

Copyright © University of Pretoria 2024. All rights reserved.

FAQ's Email Us Virtual Campus Share Cookie Preferences