The Conductor

Schalk van der Merwe

Schalk van der Merwe started his undergraduate music studies in 2011 at the University of Pretoria,

majoring in orchestral conducting under the Dutch conductor Gerben Grooten. Besides orchestral

conducting his studies also included violin, voice, composition, theory and choral conducting.

In 2019 he won the 4th Len van Zyl Conductor’s competition and was awarded with an internship at

the Nashville Symphony Orchestra in the United States and the opportunity to study with Russian

Conductor Victor Yampolsky at the North Western University in Chicago, USA.


Schalk has been active as conductor since 2011 and currently holds the positions of principal

conductor of the Capital Chamber Orchestra, resident conductor of the University of Pretoria Symphony Orchestra, principal conductor of the Symphony Chorus of

Pretoria, and principal conductor of the Sempre Opera Company. He has also served as the associate conductor of the Pretoria Symphony Orchestra. Schalk has conducted all the major orchestras in South Africa including the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, the Kwazulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Cape Town Philharmonic and the South African National Youth Orchestra in concert.


In 2015 he had the privilege to act as Maestro Gérard Korsten’s assistant, a task he recently

continued in Austria where he worked with the maestro and the Vorarlberg Symphony Orchestra in

Bregenz and toured with the orchestra. He also worked with conductor Enrico Delamboye in

Koblenz, Germany.


At the age of 23 he conducted his first full opera, Mozart’s Magic Flute, of which 6 successful

performances were given. Other operas conducted in recent years include Madama Butterfly,

Carmen, La Traviata, Suor Angelica, Amahl and the Night Visitors, Die Fledermaus, Eine Nacht in

Venedig, Don Giovanni and Il Barbiere di Siviglia.


Schalk is also a passionate educator and teaches violin, piano and voice and serves as the orchestral conducting lecturer at the University of Pretoria. He also has 2 children’s choirs and a high school choir. He believes that investing in young people in this manner from an early age cultivates an appreciation for the arts and contributes to a balanced, educated society. In 2016 he launched his own production company, Mustro Productions, which assembles orchestras and ensembles, stages operas and other classical music concerts in order to provide job opportunities for young South African musicians.


Published by Zamile Mzizi-Khuzwayo

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