About Us

Carpe Musicam! Orchestra is a community-based all-comers orchestra based in George at the heart of the Southern Cape’s Garden Route​. We believe that orchestral music should be enjoyable for performer and listener alike, and play about 14 concerts per year in an attempt to convince the Garden Route public that Music is Fun.
Carpe Musicam! Is the realization of a dream of the George, South Africa-based musical partnership of Elsabe Barkhuizen and Norman Carless and was formed in July 2015 with the express purpose of providing a safe, fun and educational space for young (and not-so-young musicians) in which to learn the not-so-gentle art of orchestral playing.  In the beginning we had only 16 members, but since then we have grown to a regular 38-or-so. Along the way we have lost more players than we have gained, and if present and past members were all to sit on the stage together, we would have over 100 players in this very special group. But, why the comings and goings? The Carpe Musicam! Orchestra is a musical family of keen and enthusiastic amateur musicians. A high percentage of members is – and will hopefully always be -young people who are still bound to the necessary nuisances of school and university. Sooner or later the day comes when something has to be cut from their daily schedule…Luckily the orchestra is flexible and resilient enough to roll with the punches.

Our main “secret weapon” lies in the fact that every piece of music that we play is especially arranged and orchestrated for us by Conductor Norman Carless, for our current instrumentation and player skill level. This means that even a player who has only been playing for a few months will have a part that is within their grasp, and which will make a meaningful contribution to the ensemble. Arrangements are continually being updated to suit the current instrumentation.
Which leads us to our second “secret weapon”. We have no stars or “heroes”. It is true that the more skilful players get the more flamboyant parts to play, but that is seen as extra responsibility rather than added glamour. We are all musos together carrying out a task together. Luckily it is a task that we all enjoy, but we are disciplined enough to grit our teeth and give our best for some of the more esoteric pieces which we are called upon to play from time to time, or when an altered part gets plonked on our stand at the final rehearsal…..​
We believe that practical musicianship is worth much more than the ability to win prizes at music competitions, or excel at examinations. In our opinion, the ability to sit down in front of previously unseen music in an unfamiliar group of musicians, and to have the calm confidence to give a good account of oneself is the real test of a musician.

The only form of audition used by Carpe Musicam! is to watch new players’ body language at their first rehearsal. Another tenet is that the rehearsal and performance of music must always be fun.
When people are happy, they learn and perform better. Musicians are no exception!