Retreat muso aims high

Chad Hendricks won the National Len van Zyl Conductors Championship.

Retreat-born Chad Hendricks made waves over the past few months after winning a prestigious conductor competition.

Now the 25-year-old is looking to bigger and better things after completing a three-month scholarship at the Philadelphia Orchestra in the United States and a mentorship with renowned conductor, Professor Victor Yampolsky at the Northwestern University in Chicago, which was the prize for winning the National Len van Zyl Conductors Competition in February.

Humble and down-to-earth, Chad took some time out to speak to the Southern Mail about his trip to the USA and his journey to becoming the muso he is today.

It all started at the Retreat New Apostolic Church for Chad who attended Bergvliet Primary and Bergvliet High schools and studied music at the University of Cape Town.

“The New Apostolic Church has quite an extensive music programme and that’s where I learnt to conduct from the age of 16. There’s a story that I was impersonating a conductor when I was four or five but I don’t remember,” he said laughing.

Before conducting at the church, Chad learnt to play the recorder and sang in the choir.

Asked why he was drawn to classical music, which is not as popular with adolescents as hip hop or RnB, Chad said his interest was always piqued by the more classical sounds.

“I love music in general. It was a way of expression for me from a young age – it was an outlet. Classic music was less common, especially in our communities, but I was exposed to it from a young age at church,” he said.

When he was younger, Chad played in the Youth Philharmonic Orchestra as well as a band called Grassy Sparks. The band’s genre is a mix of reggae, rock, funk, and Latin.

He plays the trumpet, piano and when he was younger, the violin.

Chad was completely taken by surprise when he won the National Len van Zyl Conductors Competition in February. He had taken fourth place in the competition three years ago.

“The competition was tough and I didn’t think I was going to win. I was ready to walk away with just the experience and honour of getting as far as I did but then I won and I was overjoyed,” he said.

“It was an amazing experience and I have learnt so much.”

Chad thanked everyone who has supported him since the start of his music career and all those who contributed and played a role in his success so far.

Asked what his advice is for those who want to follow in his footsteps, he said: “To all the young musicians out there, you need to believe in what you want to achieve and work hard. An opportunity will come up for you to showcase your talent, don’t ever give up,” he said.

Chad’s plans for the future are not set in stone yet but he would like to be able to perform on an international stage one day and complete a PhD in music.