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Change the world

25/04/2023

Lara Potgieter joined her sister Liske Hemingway when she graduated recently with her Master’s in Music and Performing Arts cum laude at Nelson Mandela University’s Autumn Graduation. Both sisters focused on the fairy tale theme in film music for their master’s research.

And both attended their mother, emeritus professor of music, Zelda Potgieter’s course on film music for BMus students. Prof Potgieter has also published several articles on film music analysis and has been the forerunner for her daughters’ research interest in this topic. “So, I think when the time is right, the three of us may well publish a book together”, she says.

Lara (right) is predominantly a pianist and Liske a singer, and both sisters also received the Faculty of Humanities’ best graduate award in 2020 and 2012, respectively.

Pianist Lara  

Lara’s master’s treatise analysed the narrative, image, and musical topics in the television cartoon miniseries Over the Garden Wall, on the view of a young adolescent boy struggling to find his identity. The Cartoon Network television miniseries aired for the first time in 2014 and continues to appeal to online audiences as well as a topic for research and online multimedia video essays. It is also highly regarded as it revives the traditional fairy tale, much neglected in contemporary children’s animations.

Lara also submitted a much more extensive treatise for her MMus in Performing Arts Music than is expected and achieved 85% for her research. Her supervisor was Dr Rudi Bower, head of Music and Performing Arts at Mandela University.

For her piano recitals, forming two-thirds of her master’s in Performance Art, Lara played “From Bach to Rach”, including works from the Baroque to the Modern era and “Slavic Soundscapes”, featuring works by Russian and Eastern European composers.

Lara is currently studying for her PGCE (Post-Graduate Certificate in Education) at Mandela University specialising in Music and Creative Arts and does her practical teaching at Collegiate Girls’ High School, as well as lecturing at the University. 

“It has been a challenging adjustment to go from the isolation of a master’s degree during the pandemic to suddenly being in the hustle-and-bustle of the teaching world, but I plan to go into education.  

“I think I will wait a few years before pursuing a doctorate. I would love to continue researching and possibly publishing, but for now, I want to get settled into a job and gain some experience. I would love to study abroad in future, either in the UK or in Canada”, she says.

At first, she dreamt about composing film and video game scores for a company like Netflix, but that would be a difficult path to pursue in terms of opportunity, stability, and income. So now she would love to teach at a university for the more theoretical musical subjects like Film Studies, Musicology, and Music Theory and to explore her knowledge further.  

“I see myself working at a school in the next five years, and also teaching English in addition to Music. My long-term goal would be to relocate to the UK, likely Ireland or Scotland or Wales, and to teach there at a school or university. I also hope to build up a reputable private studio for piano and theory lessons for students of all ages in the next five to 10 years”, Lara says.

Liske, vocalist and teacher

Liske graduated with her MMus cum laude in 2014 and her research also centred around music in film and how it reveals deeper meanings in the stories. Hers focused on the feminine objectified through song and her title 'Deconstructing Disney's Divas. A Feminist Psychoanalitic Critique of the Singing Princess'. Her supervisors were Prof Bert Olivier and Dr Rudi Bower.

Liske is currently the voice teacher at Collegiate Girls' High School and teaches music and rama as well as directing performances. Her musical theatre group won an award for innovation in theatre. Due to the pandemic and her two young children, she does not perform as often as a singer, but is looking forward to taking to the stage again, she says.

Her career highlights include performing as a soloist and making the papers in Germany, appearing on the front page of the Herald for an impromptu performance at the Feather Market Hall, the successfully sold out concert for the Musical Theatre Group, being in the final round of auditions for the lead role in West Side Story at the Fugard Theatre in Cape Town and performing the lead role in the opera 'The Medium' at the age of 17.

“I would love to do my PhD as well as my PGCE and I am also very interested in music therapy through song for those with learning disabilities and anxiety issues. Many learners’ learning and anxiety issues melt away during our music lessons. My dream job would be to have my own voice or musical theatre studio and work with singers, dancers, and actors of all ages”, Liske says.

Prof Potgieter, musicology scholar  

Retired professor and head of the Music Department for several years, Zelda Potgieter’s speciality has always been musicology, the scholarship of music and pure music theory. In 2021, Cambridge Scholars in the UK published her book entitled “Structural and Ornamental Diatonic Harmony in Western Music, c.1700 – 1880”.

She began teaching at the former UPE in 1985 and retired at the end of 2022. She also served as chairperson of the South African Society for Research in Music for some years. Since her doctoral research on integrating traditional music-theoretical systems with new paradigms, her research interest has evolved towards film music analysis and its (yet) under-researched relation to psychoanalytic film theory.

Contact information
Ms Elma de Koker
Internal Communication Practitioner
Tel: 041-504 2160
elma.dekoker@mandela.ac.za