“After the enchantment of our previous Tankwa Classics event, I couldn’t help but reminisce about the wonderful moments we shared during that weekend.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to each and every one of you who made the journey to the Place of Dreams, despite the challenges along the way. Your unwavering support and the meaningful connections we formed mean the world to us. I would also like to extend a special thanks to the dedicated team at POD, particularly Chris Conradie and Avril Malherbe. Their tireless efforts ensured that our performances were as enjoyable as possible.” 

We eagerly anticipate your presence once again, as we come together to create more magical moments at Tankwa Classics.

Warm regards, 
Elna van der Merwe
Musical Director & Pianist


From the 24th to the 26th of March 2023, music enthusiasts and nature lovers were treated to an extraordinary event, the TANKWA CLASSICS Open Air Theatre. Nestled in the picturesque Karoo hinterland, underneath a million Karoo stars, and in the heart of a million-year-old canyon, this weekend celebration of the arts and classical music left guests awestruck and enchanted. Despite facing a few challenges due to a looming storm and washed-out access roads, the spirit of the performers and guests prevailed, creating a magical experience for all attendees.

Guests were also treated to a culinary experience of note. The chef curated a menu inspired by the Karoo’s rich culinary heritage. Attendees savoured a delightful fusion of Karoo local flavours, indulging in a feast of mouth-watering dishes created from fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

Friday 24 March: The Grand Opening – KAROO CANTABILE

The festivities commenced with Concert 1, KAROO CANTABILE, featuring six voices ranging from sopranos to baritones and tenors. The talented vocalists sang an enchanting repertoire, encompassing musicals to lighter operatic arias. Their performances were accompanied by a string orchestra and a piano, which added to the melodic bliss that filled the air.

Saturday 25 March: Nature Walks, Classical Talks, and Gastronomic Delights

Saturday morning allowed guests to partake in a yoga class or embark on a guided walk to explore the natural beauty of the Tankwa Karoo. Due to weather constraints, the guided walk was substituted by self-guided walks and hikes, which turned out to be an enriching experience for everyone. Participants were able to immerse themselves in the unique flora and fauna of the region, guided by informative brochures and expert volunteers.

Additionally, esteemed writer Tim Butcher delivered an enthralling talk titled “Congo – Key to Africa.” Drawing from his extensive experience and research, Butcher delved into the Congo’s historical significance and its implications for the wider region and its people. The audience was captivated by his insightful perspectives and thought-provoking anecdotes, gaining a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding the Congo.

Saturday’s Musical Highlights:

The musical delights continued in the afternoon with Concert 2, FOUR SEASONS.

A small string orchestra showcased their talents, with four exceptional violinists featured as soloists in Vivaldi’s iconic masterpiece, Four Seasons. The performance transported the audience through the essence of each season, leaving them captivated.

As the sun began to set, Concert 3, OPERA UNDER THE STARS, took centre stage.

Opera aficionados were treated to a mesmerizing array of arias from Mozart, Puccini, Verdi, and Donizetti, sung by exceptionally talented vocalists accompanied by the string orchestra and piano. The combination of opera and the celestial backdrop of the Karoo sky created an unforgettable experience.

Sunday 26th March: A Day of Tranquillity, Flute Focus, and Culinary Delights

Sunday morning offered another chance for guests to indulge in a morning yoga class, harmonizing the mind and body amid the tranquil Karoo landscape. As the day unfolded, Concert 4, FOCUS ON FLUTE, showcased the flute as a solo instrument in a variety of musical styles and periods, complemented by strings and piano. The concert highlighted the versatility and beauty of the flute, captivating the audience with its melodic charm.

The grand finale arrived with Concert 5, TRIBUTE TO BACH.

This concert paid homage to Johann Sebastian Bach, featuring a chamber orchestra, vocal soloists, and a choir. The performances showcased Bach’s masterful compositions, leaving the audience in awe of the genius of the Baroque era.

The concerts brought forth a lineup of magnificent artists who captivated the crowd with their virtuosity and musicality. Led by Elna Van der Merwe, the musical director, a group of acclaimed instrumentalists showcased their talent, creating an unforgettable musical program. The artists included:

Petrus de Beer: A classically trained violinist known for his versatility in various styles, ranging from Classical to Blues and Jazz.

Zanta Hofmeyr: A Juilliard School of Music graduate who has established herself as a concert artist and teacher, performing as a soloist with orchestras and in chamber music collaborations.

Suzanne Martens: A violinist who has held principal positions in orchestras and has appeared as a soloist with several ensembles, renowned for her skill and artistry.

Philip Martens: A violinist and Concert Master of The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, known for his captivating performances and chamber music collaborations.

Jeanne-Louise Moolman: A violist of the Odeion String Quartet and experienced chamber musician who has performed with renowned musicians and premiered works by South African composers.

Karin Gaertner: A former principal violist of the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra, known for her chamber music expertise and collaboration with various ensembles.

Susan Mouton: A cellist who has held principal positions in orchestras and is currently the Principal Cellist of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra.

Peter Martens: An award-winning cellist, director of the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, and principal cellist of the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra.

Liesl Stoltz: A classical flutist and part-time lecturer at the University of Cape Town, recognized for her performances in South Africa and Europe.

Elna van der Merwe: A sought-after collaborative pianist and accompanist, known for her extensive experience and recordings with various artists.

The evening’s performances were complemented by extraordinary fire shows and artistic performances, along with captivating mappings projected onto the surrounding rocks, creating a multisensory experience that left a lasting impression.

The Tankwa Classics 2023 event left attendees with a profound appreciation for classical music and the natural beauty of the Tankwa Karoo. The combination of extraordinary performances, breathtaking landscapes, and culinary delights made for a truly unforgettable experience. The artists, instrumentalists, and organizers deserve immense praise for their dedication and talent in creating a weekend filled with magical moments and lasting memories.

TANKWA CLASSICS 2023 was an extraordinary celebration of music, nature, and gastronomy in the heart of the Karoo. Attendees were treated to exceptional performances, captivating talks, and an exquisite culinary experience. Despite the challenges faced due to inclement weather, the event remained a resounding success, leaving guests inspired and enchanted by the harmonious fusion of music, art, and nature. The memories created during this magical weekend will surely linger in the hearts of all who attended. Watch this space for information on Tankwa Classics 2024!