Concert pianist Christof van der Berg will be playing at 8pm at Elaine Meyer’s Upper Crust in Marina da Gama on Saturday November 26.
Christof was introduced to the piano at the age of seven by an eccentric gypsy traveller who happened to pass through his hometown of Trompsburg in the Free State.
This brief encounter with the travelling musical genius altered his life forever.
At the age of nine he became the local church organist in Trompsburg, entertaining the congregation who had to hold on to their hats to keep up with the up tempo and slightly modified hymns.
A year later he was invited to do a series of concerts in art galleries and private homes where Johan Cromhout, a well-known international jazz and opera pianist, offered to become his mentor.
With this guidance, Christof took part in a national competition in 2002 which earned him first places in composition and contemporary music.
“I was selected to take part in a global competition which took place in Hollywood, Los Angeles. I received first places for all my performances; and played on an American talk show,” Christof says.
When he returned to South Africa he was awarded the premier’s award by the Free State premier Winkie Dereko.
After school he moved to London for two years, took up sculpting and returned to South Africa as a visual artist.
During this time he was invited to perform as guest artist in theatres such as the Atterbury in Pretoria, the Sand Du Plessis and the Odeon Theatre in Bloemfontein.
In 2012 he wrote his first complete musical show called Portraits of a time in Bohemia based on his time in the
hidden bohemian part of Constantia living with fellow artists, poets and musicians.
The show premiered at the Masque theatre to great acclaim, and Christof then followed that gypsy spirit which lit his early talent, and embarked on a three-year journey around the world, where he entertained crowds on luxury cruise ships in Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Spain, Italy, India and the Mid-east.
In 2014 Christof moved to Ireland for a year to perform Portraits of a time in Bohemia in the exclusive library theatre on Grafton Street in Dublin.
At the same time he was the pianist and entertainer for the secretive upstairs lounge at the famous Lillies Bordello – a small private night club where international celebrities, Hollywood actors and politicians came to let their hair down in privacy.
The poetic element of Ireland inspired his music hugely, but he discovered that he and the harsh Irish winter were not compatible.
The cold spurred him to move to the tropical jungles of northern Thailand to spend a year writing new songs.
“I have returned from a six-month period performing in China, Japan and South Korea and am now based in Cape Town again,” Christof said.
Saturday night will showcase a host of well-loved songs including the work of Bob Dylan, Tom Jones, Cat Stevens, John Lennon and perhaps some Leonard Cohen, as well as some classic swing numbers. The audience’s mood may change the repertoire, Christof says, keeping alive the element of reciprocal flow.
To ensure a seat, book with Elaine at 021 788 7765. Donations will be collected on the night.