A little bit about us...

We are a group of people from very different backgrounds that live on the Garden Route of South Africa and share a common passion – MUSIC. Some of us have been active in the music world both as professional performers/composers/producers and educators while others have enjoyed participating in amateur music-making. We have come together to bring world-class performers/musicians to our beautiful region, not just to perform, but to contribute to the development of music in our communities across all genres. Expect opera, solo instruments to ensembles, classical choral to the blues.  Though some performances will be held along traditional ‘concert’ lines, others will be more relaxed and include opportunities for participation.

We are privileged to have Lady Conyngham, a de facto impresario, as our Patron. Lady Conyngham has become synonymous with fine musical entertainment in the greater Plettenberg Bay area and serves as the principal fundraiser for Hospice Plett.  In deference to her service in that field, any surplus monies raised by the GRMS will be for the benefit of Hospice Plett unless otherwise advertised.

Our founding members are:

Annabelle Conyngham (Agnew)

Annabelle Conyngham( Agnew ) was born and educated in South Africa and completed her studies in Florence taking A levels in Italian and History of Art. The family firm, Agnew’s, were the renowned art dealers in London with close links to Christie’s Fine Auctioneers which she joined in 1972. Her specialisation became the auction process itself and she became the first woman auctioneer for the firm whilst working for Christie’s in Amsterdam where she was based for five years. She worked in Rome, Geneva and Amsterdam before becoming a regional representative in the Isle of Man after her marriage, a position she held until 2009. Lady Conyngham held the position of Chairman of the Most Venerable Order of St John of Jerusalem in the Isle of Man and is also a member of the Ladies Guild of the Eye Hospital in Jerusalem. She was invested as a Dame of the Order in 2010 The following year she moved to Plettenberg Bay and is currently the Vice Chairman of Hospice Plett and is involved with the Robberg Coastal Protected Environment. She has been actively organising artistic and musical fundraising events for both organisations.

Rae Gilbert (Wilkinson)

Rae hails from Gqerberha (previously Port Elizabeth) and qualified as a senior school teacher at UPE. She completed post-graduate studies at RAU and UNISA while following her career and raising a family of two daughters and a son. Rae entered the Training & Corporate Development space after relocating to Johannesburg. She spent ten years in Data Processing as a Business Analyst and then as a Management Trainer after which she joined a small management consulting company. Here she consulted with small to medium enterprises to develop organisational culture and communication strategies, build executive teams, and other HR-related systems.
In the mid-90s, Rae and her family relocated to the Garden Route where they moved onto Bosky Dell Farm just outside Plettenberg Bay. Along with music, gardening has always been one of her passions and with the absence of corporates in Plett, she started a small landscaping business and later developed the international award-winning rose gardens for which Bosky Dell has become renowned. She runs a successful Wedding and Events company that has hosted several music events as fundraisers for various charities since the opening of the garden in 2007. The popularity of the events motivated Rae to start the GRMS in 2021.
Rae currently serves as Chairman of the GRMS.

John Walton

John is a Capetonian by birth and education. He matriculated at South African College Schools and graduated from the UCT College of Music with a B.Mus. John has been writing orchestral music for many years and has an impressive list of clients and credits. John specializes in arranging popular music for full symphony orchestras and has a large library of music available for hire. He has written for Eurovision Stars, Pop and Rock Artists and is au fait with just about all styles of music ranging from Bach to Mahler and Nat King Cole to Maher Zain and Ronan Keating. He founded the KFM Symphonic Pops series in 1996 which premiered at the Spier Arts Festival and has been the Musical Director of many productions from the 2008 South African Loerie Awards and the 2012 Heineken All Star (involving collaboration between DJs and Orchestra) to the widely acclaimed Heineken Symphonic Rocks concerts. From 2008 until March 2013 (with a break between 2000 and 2003) John was Head of Music at the South African College Schools (SACS) – eleven years at the Junior School and nine years at the High School - and was subsequently appointed Manager of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra until August 2018. John has arranged the music, and conducted the orchestra, for the Gideon Du Plessis Charity Golf Day held annually at Fancourt in the Southern Cape. He is a founding member of the Cape Town Pops Orchestra. In 2017 John co-founded Cinemagic Scoring (Pty) Ltd which works primarily with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra to record film scores, tracks for games and original music and whose clientele comprises almost entirely international clients (see cinemagicscoring.com). Cinemagic is now working at a rate of one full day recording session per month. John has been tasked with curating the 'musical menu' for the GRMS.

Russel Braum

Russel started his music career at the Drakensberg Boys Choir School in 1996, under the tutelage of Bunny Ashley Botha and Vaughn Van Zyl. He completed his schooling at Kearsney College, where he was the choir leader in his senior year. Both these schools offered him the opportunity to travel extensively both locally and internationally while performing for audiences around the world. In 2007, Russel completed a Bachelor of Music at UKZN majoring in Jazz Performance and Education, under the guidance of Darius Brubeck and Natalie Rungan. After spending 2 seasons working on the MSC Rhapsody and Melody, Russel joined the hospitality industry and spent most of his working career managing various iconic hotels, lodges, and restaurants in KZN. Russel now lives in Plettenberg Bay with his wife and 3 children. Russel is the Assistant General Manager at Hospice Plett and runs a web development and digital media business, Rusty Studios. Russel is the GRMS Treasurer.

Ypie Kingma

Ypie was born in The Netherlands, where she lived until her early 20’s. Although her grandfather was not a professional, and she never met him, his legacy as a violinist lived on as she started playing the violin when she was 8. Practice became fun when she joined the Frisian Youth Orchestra (Frysk Jeugd Orkest) during her high school years. During the 6 years in the orchestra, she grew from the back seat in ‘3rd violins’ (“we only had one viola in the orchestra at the time”) to the leader of the orchestra, right in the front seat. Highlights of that time include concert tours to Prague (in then Czechoslovakia) and Spain, and playing for then Queen Beatrix as part of her birthday celebrations. During her varsity years, she joined the local student orchestra and choir. As a good student, she remembers the camaraderie during dinner dates before, and drinking dates after weekly practice, most. A concert tour through ‘next door’ Germany complemented the musical experience of those years. The next phase in her life brought her to Moscow, Russia: a cultural playground of note! Opera and ballet performances in the Bolshoi (or Grand) Theatre, classical concerts at the Conservatorium as well as other shows and recitals in various ‘Dom Kultury’ or ‘Houses of Culture’ were the order of the day. At the time, she worked for an events company, one of the highlights being a concert they organized on behalf of one of their corporate clients in the Armoury Chamber, one of the oldest museums in Moscow, located inside the Kremlin. The standard of general musical education from a young age was extremely high, and her violin was left in its case most of the time. In 1999, she moved to Knysna and has since played in various musical amateur ensembles including the South Cape Symphony Orchestra and – currently – the Knysna String Quartet. Ypie remarks, ”The pleasure of making music together, as well as sharing the love for music, is what is most enjoyable and the reason for me joining the Garden Route Music Society. My marketing skills will hopefully result in many people along the Garden Route enjoying the performances the Garden Route Music Society will bring to the area!”.

Anneke Lamont

Anneke Lamont has been appointed Head of Piano at the Odeion School of Music, University of the Free State, in July 2018. She has performed with the Odeion String Quartet, was part of the Kunstefees in Bloemfontein where she performed the Diabelli Variations by Beethoven for KYKnet and performed Beethoven’s 3rd Concerto in Bavaria, Germany under the baton of Michi Gaigg in 2019. In 2022 Anneke participated in the Stellenbosch International Piano Symposium as adjudicator and performer and will perform the Mozart Concerto nr 20 in September with conductor Gérard Korsten in Bloemfontein. She does ongoing research on composer Arvo Pärt and delivered papers in Winchester (UK) and Wuppertal (Germany) and in 2022 participates in the 12th Conference on Religion and Spirituality in Society in Córdoba, Spain, and gives a concert in Ghent, Belgian with colleague Danré Strydom (clarinettist) on Afrikaans texts and composers. Anneke is a founder member of the International Woodwind Competition in Bloemfontein and vice-president for the SASMT in the Free State.