Renowned flautist Cobus du Toit flaunts his skills in masterclass and recital

Guest flutist Cobus du Toit makes his instrument sing while pianist Doreen Lee accompanies.
Guest flutist Cobus du Toit makes his instrument sing while pianist Doreen Lee accompanies.
Meilynn Smith

Cobus du Toit, an internationally recognized South African flutist, took center stage at Sebring-Lewis Hall to perform in a flute recital with accompanist Doreen Lee as part of their six-day musical tour across Iowa. The recital — which included pieces ranging from Bach to contemporary South African compositions — followed a flute masterclass hosted by du Toit with the flute students of Claudia Anderson, applied music associate and lecturer. 

“The students were all very involved,” Anderson said. “He was to-the-point. He was kind to them, but he said what he wanted to say and I think he made them all feel good. That’s an art in itself.” 

During the masterclass, du Toit instructed students, including Princess Joseph `25 seen here, from his expertise. (Meilynn Smith)

The masterclass that took place Friday, Feb. 9 featured students Boston Gunderson `26, Clara Chaput `26 and Princess Joseph `25. Chaput, who has played the flute for 10 years, said she thought du Toit’s masterclass was very worthwhile, especially given the time constraints. Each student received 20 minutes of specific instruction by du Toit. 

“I think this masterclass was really interesting because it was so short,” Chaput said. “Most masterclasses you get at least half-an-hour or 45 minutes.” 

Chaput said she had attended several masterclasses before, sometimes online, and sometimes only as an audience participant. Even when not on the stage, she said that masterclasses can be tremendously helpful in seeing the way others perform and the techniques that flutists like du Toit use to improve on shortcomings.  

“This is what I love to do,” du Toit said. “To perform and work with people, and hopefully inspire people and share some knowledge.” 

The recital’s first half included “Fantasie Op. 55” by Austrian composer Carl Frühling, “Sarabande for the Days of the Sundog” by South African composer Paul Hanmer, and Philippe Gaubert’s “Sonata #1 in A major.” After an intermission, du Toit continued with J.S. Bach’s “Flute Sonata in G Minor,”  Erwin Schulhoff’s “Sonata” and finished with “La Belle Epoque” by French composer Jacques Castérède

Every year, du Toit and Lee tour a state or region, holding masterclasses and performing together. He said that in 2023, the pair traveled through Kansas and Missouri. 

“It’s a whirlwind. We’re visiting six places in six days,” he said about their recent Iowa tour.

The other Iowan institutions they visited included the University of Northern Iowa, Iowa State University, Drake University, the University of Iowa and St. Ambrose University. 

“The most beautiful thing about the arts is the community that surrounds it,” du Toit said.

The most beautiful thing about the arts is the community that surrounds it.

— Cobus du Toit

Anderson’s own flute duo “ZAWA!” with flutist and University of California, Santa Barbara professor Jill Felber will perform on Saturday, March 9. 

That same day, flute dealers will come to Grinnell, and Chaput said the evening will include several events to celebrate the instrument. She said she hopes more people can come to events like du Toit’s recital or the ZAWA! concert in the future. 

“It’s an art that’s not appreciated anymore,” Chaput said. 

Besides Anderson’s students, there were no more than five other attendees at one time, as individuals would arrive and leave mid-recital. Anderson said one reason for the limited attendance could have been the timing of the event — held at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday — but that there is no magic answer to increasing turnout at these events except advertising for them across social media, departmental channels and throughout campus. 

Lee and du Toit present on stage in front few attendees. (Meilynn Smith)

Du Toit said that to grow attendance, colleges and universities need to focus on a diverse repertoire that incorporates both traditional and modern pieces written by composers from diverse racial, gender and socioeconomic backgrounds. He referenced Anderson’s music project titled “Glass Ceilings,” a program featuring herself and four other female composers — Eve Beglarian, Allison Loggins-Hull, Ali Ryerson and Lisa Bost. 

“While there’s many listeners who love traditional repertoire, there’s also a newer, younger audience interested in music that relates more to current events and social issues,” du Toit said. “It’s sort of interesting because a lot of classical music used to be that way — used to be innovative. And then at a certain point, it tipped to being sort of more retrospective.”

The ZAWA! concert will be held from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, March 9 at Sebring-Lewis Hall in the Bucksbaum Center for the Arts.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
Donate to The Scarlet & Black
Our Goal

Comments (0)

All The Scarlet & Black Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *