Le Kay , Jo-Nette

Le Kay , Jo-Nette

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Born in the beautiful Winelands town of Paarl, near Cape Town, Jo-Nette Le Kay displayed an exceptional talent for music at an early age.

At primary school she joined and was a founder member of the Paarl / Wellington Regional choir who performed nationally and internationally with many accolades and prizes to their name. Meeting ex president Nelson Mandela on three occasions, singing for King Gustav of Sweden and Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, to name a few. She was also a very active performer during her school career with percussion ensembles at Music school and a fervent ballerina in many productions at both Johaar Mosaval and Joy Cargill dance studios.

At University she participated in the Stellenbosch University choir as well as the Stellenbosch Camarata. Both groups are world renowned choirs. After doing a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Geography, she decided to pursue her career in singing. She enrolled for a Performance Licentiate in Singing. Whilst doing this she gained experience as Second Lady in Mozart’s ‘Magic flute’ as well as gaining experience in productions like ‘Don Giovanni’ and ‘Il Matrimonio di Segreto’.

After her studies she started working with the well known South African mezzo soprano Jean Stuart. Jean taught her the Italian ‘Bel Canto’ style of singing, which proved to be very successful.  Jean helped in the development of her voice into a dramatic coloratura soprano. Jo-Nette believes in creating opportunities for herself as well as other performers and thus put together her own productions such as ‘Celebration of Song’ (2001), ‘Opera and Poetry’ (2003), ‘La Dolce Vita’ (2006) and ‘Magnifique Classique’(2011). By these initiatives she combines the world of opera with other genres of music and performance. Cross-over performers as well as drama-experts, visual artists and dancers make out part of these productions.
She also spent two years in London where she gained experience performing with Hamstead Garden Opera as well as Opera Integra. They did productions of ‘Madama Butterfly’, ‘The Masked Ball’ and excerpts of ‘L’elisir d’Amore’. She attended Masterclasses in London with David Jones and Nelly Miricioiu and in Madrid with Teresa Berganza.

Back in South Africa she enrolled for a post graduate diploma in teaching at the University of Cape Town in 2006. While studying, she participated in opera theatre art classes under the direction of Prof. Angelo Gobbato and studied the title roles in excerpts from ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’, ‘Don Pasquale’ and ‘Rigoletto’. In 2007 she joined the ‘Cape Town Vocal Ensemble’ under the direction of Leon Starker and performed as choir member and soloist. In 2009 she joined the Cape Town opera Ad Hoc Vocal Ensemble, where she participated in the opera ‘Madama Butterfly’ as well as the production of the ‘Mozart Requiem’. In 2010 she sang in the opera ‘Lucia di Lammermoor’.

Jo-Nette has been one of the official soloists in her hometown at performances of the Winelands Chamber Choir’s Winter- and Summer concerts from 2010 till the beginning of 2012.

Apart from other roles, Jo-Nette worked as a freelance singer and continued to study under Jean Stuart. Jean passed away on 29 May 2012 and the legacy Jean left on Jo-Nette’s life is very noticeable. Jean was an excellent voice coach, mentor, life coach and a very good friend. Her passing is a great loss to the world of singing.

During July 2008 till March 2012, Jo-Nette trained vocal students at the Frank Pietersen Music School in Paarl. Many of her students passed with distinction in their final exams in 2010 and 2011. In most cases she also acted as events coordinator for the school and was the main coordinator of the Frank Pietersen Choir Department. She also assisted the school’s choirs by being their personal vocal technician. Thus she assisted the conductors and kept the voices healthy.

Jo-Nette returned in May 2011 from a visit to Germany, where she trained with the renowned baritone Laurence Gien. He successfully helped her in the further development of her voice. His recommendation was for her to sing the warm Verdi and Puccini tragic heroine operatic roles. She also participated in auditioning for opera companies and conductors. She returned to Hamburg in September 2012 to do a PROMS concert series with Klassik Philharmonie Hamburg at Moorrege, Mehrzweckhalle and at Hamburg, Laeiszhalle-Musikhalle under the baton of accomplished conductor Robert Stehli. The concerts were a roaring success and Mr Stehli assured her that she will return to Hamburg within the next two years to perform another programme with Klassik Philharmonie Hamburg.
2012 has been an exciting year for Jo-Nette.

She stopped teaching full-time and is now pursuing her career as a full-time freelance singer. She occasionally teaches vocal students; which she feels is an important part of her own personal development. Her first very successful concert was in April 2012 at Bethel Congregational church in Paarl, where she performed the well known piece ‘The Shepherd on the Rock’ with clarinet. The audience admired her for her warmth of voice and superfluous vocal technique. The next week was followed by a very successful Singing and Organ Recital at the Cederberg Festival in Clanwilliam. Many oratorio pieces were rendered that left the audience speechless for its lyrical beauty of sound.

At the beginning of May she wowed audiences at a Wedding Expo for the well known South African designer Johan Smit. She sang dramatic and veristic operatic arias as the models paraded the dramatic and beautiful wedding gowns created by Johan Smit couture. Johan also sponsored and made her dress for the event. This dress was worn at her Concerts in Germany in September 2012.

Her next and very exciting project is with the production of ‘The South African Sopranos’ by Niel Rademan productions. The first very successful concert took place at the end of May and includes Jo-Nette as the very lyrical soprano singing Operatic arias, Musical theatre pieces and pieces from Operetta of a very romantic nature. She is known for her rendition of the arias: ‘O mio Babbino caro’ by Puccini and Casta Diva by Bellini. Her charming personality and shiny, dreamy eyes have audiences at the edge of their seats. This production will be touring nationally for the next few years, performing at Festivals like ‘The Woordfees’ in Stellenbosch, the ‘Klein Karoo Arts Festival’ in Oudtshoorn as well as great Concert halls and Amphitheatres, like their recent performance at Oude Libertas Amphitheatre in Stellenbosch; and further across South Africa.

She has recently performed as ‘Fairy Diva’ in the Production of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ with the Psychedelic Theatre Group on Paarl Mountain. These are amazing dancers who combine dance with fire in breath-taking fire dancing displays. With Jo-Nette now involved this also includes Operatic singing. Jo-Nette is also now a part of the group Salon Music at the Brooklyn Theatre in Pretoria, who will do a Verdi Gala concert series at the end of January 2013; under the direction of Mr Willem Vogel. She will also expand her teaching experience this year by coaching a few vocal students at the Black Tie Ensemble: VO1SS at the State Theatre in Pretoria.

Published 29 Nov 2012. Updated 7 January 2013.

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