Boy has world on a string
At the tender age of six Andrew Gilbert fell in love - with the sound of the violin - and today, at 13, he is a musical prodigy.
The energetic Gilbert remembered: "I was listening to Classic FM with my mother and knew as soon as I heard it that the violin was the instrument I wanted to play.
"There is something captivating in the beautiful, melodic, sweet tone it has. I fell in love with it and have never looked back."
Andrew's skill and technique have earned him numerous diplomas for playing pieces such as Tempo di Minuetto, by Fritz Kreisler, and Gluck's Melodia.
Last year the Johannesburg teenager became one of the youngest musicians to be selected to play as a member of the National Youth Orchestra, for which the minimum age is usually 15.
He was chosen to play first violin for the orchestra this year.
Gilbert, who excels in both sports and at school, said his music teacher, Irene Tsoniff, and his parents had played a huge role in his success as a violinist.
"I have been working hard for the past seven years and though I know I have a long way to go, I continue to improve."
Though much of his time is taken up by his studies and extramural activities at school, club soccer and violin lessons, he said he enjoys taking time off with his friends to "hang out".
The Grade 7 pupil at The Ridge School, Johannesburg, was recently awarded an Open Major Music Scholarship to attend the Johannesburg private school St John's College next year.
The assistant conductor of the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra, Etienne Mecloen, who has worked with Gilbert for the past three years, said he had a bright future ahead of him.
"He is a hard-working and talented musician who is going places.
"The violin is difficult to master but he is well on his way," Mecloen said.
Music runs in the young instrumentalist's blood. His mother, concert pianist Yana Gilbert, is the child of two music professors from the Ukraine. Peter Gilbert said his son is a "unique kid" who "hates to fail".
"I just want him to be happy. Seeing the amount of effort he puts into his work has heightened my respect for musicians."
Gilbert performed Summer, from Vivaldi's The Four Seasons at the Sound of the Children music festival at the Linder Auditorium last night.
At the festival concert, at which Richard Cock conducted the Festival Orchestra, junior school choirs and young musicians demonstrated their talent for two days.
The Sound of Children music festival is on again at the Linder from 6.30pm to 7.45pm tonight. Entrance is free.