Richard Cock gets Music Lifetime Achievement award

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2014 ACT Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for Music, Richard Cock with Gcina Mhlophe, Welcome Msomi and Sydney Mbhele. Picture by Gareth Jacobs.
2014 ACT Lifetime Achievement Award recipient for Music, Richard Cock with Gcina Mhlophe, Welcome Msomi and Sydney Mbhele. Picture by Gareth Jacobs.

The Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) has named Richard Cock the 2014 winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Music. This category is sponsored by Nedbank Arts Affinity.

Richard Cock was born in Port Elizabeth and educated at Woodridge Preparatory School and the Diocesan College in Cape Town. He pursued his musical studies at the Cape Town College of Music, where he graduated in 1971. In 1972, he won a scholarship to the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM) in England, where he was awarded several prizes and diplomas.

Cock became Director of Music at the Cathedral Choir School and assistant organist at Chichester Cathedral in 1978 and during his years in England he became a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. After his return to South Africa in 1980, Cock, as Music Director from 1991, breathed new life into the National Symphony Orchestra (NSO). His innovative spirit saw the orchestra expand its horizons with open-air events, such as the successful Emmarentia Gardens Winter Series, Musical Fireworks and Pops Concerts, Music in the Zoo and tours from Cape Town to Cairo. In 1999 he left the NSO to pursue a freelance career and to stimulate music activities throughout South Africa, which he has done with marked success.

Since then he has conducted symphony, choral and many major concerts in Johannesburg and throughout Southern Africa. Cock has conducted light classical concerts entitled Bach to Broadway, Flights of Fantasy and Lloyd Webber and Friends, as and has given concerts for children and senior citizens. He is in much demand countrywide as a conductor for the popular Last Night of the Proms concerts and Songs of Praise, to name a few.

In recent years he conducted his first full-length opera, Mozart’s Don Giovanni, in Bloemfontein. Cock has toured South Africa with international musicians such as Julian Lloyd-Webber, Joshua Bell, Lynn Harrell and Katherine Jenkins, and he regularly conducts Starlight Classics for Rand Merchant Bank. However, it is as a choral trainer and conductor that Cock is best known. He founded the Symphony Choir of Johannesburg and the internationally recognised Chanticleer Singers over 33 years ago. Both are recognised as leaders in their respective fields.

Cock was Organist and Director of Music at St Mary’s Cathedral for 12 years and was elected a Fellow of the Royal School of Church Music for his services to Church Music in South Africa. He is Chairman of the Apollo Music Trust, and is on the Board of Trustees of Business and Arts South Africa (BASA), the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra and on the Artistic Committee of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown.

In collaboration with Florian Uhlig, he directs the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF) which is held annually. He is also involved in a number of successful outreach projects in Soweto and Eldorado Park.

In May 2000, he received an Honorary Doctorate in music from Rhodes University, in 2012 A Parnassus Award from Stellenbosch University and in 2013 a special Award from the ATKV for his 30 years dedication to spreading the love of music in South Africa.

Previous Lifetime Achievement Award winners Gcina Mhlophe and Welcome Msomi will announce this award; as Nedbank’s Divisional Executive for Marketing, Sydney Mbhele, will handover the award on behalf of Nedbank.

The 2014 ACT Awards ceremony is sponsored by Nedbank Arts Affinity, hosted by Sun International and presented in association with the Dramatic, Artistic and Literary Rights Organisation (DALRO), Media24 Books, Classicfeel Magazine and is supported by the Distell Foundation and Business and Arts South Africa (BASA).

Other Lifetime Achievement Award Winners include Richard Loring for Theatre, Andre Brink for Literature, Sam Nzima for Visual Art and Mandie van der Spuy for Arts Advocacy.

Each Lifetime Achievement Award winner receives R30 000 as a cash prize.

For more information about the Arts & Culture Trust (ACT) please visitwww.act.org.za

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