Christo Jankowitz awarded the 2022 Helgaard Steyn Prize for Composition
Composer Christo Jankowitz (45) is the winner of the 2022 Helgaard Steyn Award for Music Composition, with prize money of R675 000.
Awarding him the prize for his String Quartet No 3, the panel of judges – Professor Chris van Rhyn of North-West University, Mr Lance Phillip of the University of the Free State and Professor Hendrik Hofmeyr of the University of Cape Town – described the work as “boldly conceived, complex, skilfully composed and compelling”.
“I was pleasantly surprised when I heard the award was being bestowed on me,” Jankowitz said.
“As a composer one works in total isolation, and it’s then easy to lose heart. Apart from the euphoria of winning a prize of such magnitude for a work that required intense creative energy to bring about, it gives me renewed inspiration in my ongoing desire to create music of high quality.”
His String Quartet No 3 was first performed in 2019 by the renowned Odeion Quartet in the Dr Miriam Makeba Hall at Unisa.
The judges said the composition’s “solid formal structure, convincing harmonic design and fine exploration of range, timbre and texture are noteworthy”.
The award is not the first in Jankowitz’s music career of more than two decades. He recently received a prize from the ATKV for his choral work Wees My Genadig, which has been set as the prescribed work for the 2023 ATKV Applous competition. He has also won prizes twice at the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship Competition for Composers, the MTN CIT:Y Bursary Prize for Music and first prize in the Sowetan SAMRO Massed Choir Festival Composition Competition.
Jankowitz holds a doctorate of music in musical composition conferred by the University of the Witwatersrand. He also worked as a postdoctoral research fellow in music composition at the University of Cape Town before joining Unisa’s department of art and music in 2018 as a senior lecturer. He’s currently a freelance composer and teaches violin and piano at several Johannesburg schools.
As a scholar funded by the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust he attended performances of his work at the Atlantic Music Festival in the United States in 2012. His compositions have also been performed locally by the Sontonga Quartet and by the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Daniel Boico. Some of his piano music appears on the album Prismatica, which was recorded by pianist Laura Pauna and released by Vektor Productions earlier this year.
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