Steeped in classical tradition, the flute is not usually associated with innovation. This technical and idiosyncratic instrument seemingly doesn’t lend itself to wild musical explorations. 

Now Wouter Kellerman wants to bring the flute back to the mainstream. “I want to show audiences the versatility of the instrument,” he says. His performance at the Beethoven Room does just that. Switching easily between classical, jazz, African and Irish music, Kellerman weaves a rich sonic tapestry. 

SAMA-nominated Kellerman started young, playing mainly classical music. He attended master classes with great flautists in Europe. He was rated the top young flautist in SA. 

More recently, he has begun an exploration into more contemporary styles. His new album, Colours, was mixed by Husky Huskolds, one of the best-known sound engineers in America. 

On the live front, helping him on his musical journey are some excellent musicians: Michael George on guitar and Phresh Makhene on percussion and vocals. 

Driven by passion
Makhene’s rich voice is a particular highlight of the gig, as is the interplay of Kellerman’s flute and George’s guitar on Duel. There are also some very different elements to the set, which includes the use of Tibetan singing bowls and an outstanding dance number. 

Even though Kellerman is an engineer by trade, his passion for music keeps him coming back to performance. “For the past six years it’s been going better, and I have been able to do this professionally. It’s just my passion and it’s deep in my heart.

Three years ago, flautist Wouter Kellerman exploded on to the South African world music scene in a burst of musical colour and texture. His first album, Colour, was nominated for a South African Music Award (Sama) for Best Instrumental Album in 2008. The album’s DVD – Kellerman Colour Live – won the 2010 Sama for Best Jazz/Instrumental/Popular Classical DVD. Kellerman has been travelling the world with his flutes and multi-layered sound. This year he has performed at the opening ceremony of the international Midem conference in France and at the closing ceremony of the Fifa World Cup. When asked what it is about his music that has garnered him such a diverse, multicultural fanbase, Kellerman put it down to two things; his influences and the flute. “I think the fact that I’m influenced by such a wide range of different things makes my music accessible to many people. There is Irish influence as well as Latin and African.”

But it is the flute that Kellerman believes attracts people to his music – it isn’t an instrument commonly played outside of the classical music genre. “It is very unlikely for a flautist to play at a World Cup, isn’t it?” he points out. “I think people relate to the flute because it is played by breathing and everyone can do that. “My kind of flute playing is not a classic style, where you try and hide the breath. You have to hear me breath. I am a live musician. I like people to hear the breath when I play and to hear the air in the notes. I am very particular about that in my live concerts and in my recordings.” One could consider Kellerman a collector of sounds. He celebrates diversity and experiments with a wide range of influences and sounds. Even the sound of the Joburg hadedas – which he loves – has found its way into his music.

Colour was really the solo result of these  sound experiments. Kellerman’s new album, Two Voices, takes his diversity of ideas one step further, as he collaborates on each piece of music with a different artist. “When I work with another artist, we start with a totally blank page. “We will just start playing and in that process we will hit on something that sounds good and then we will use that as the starting point for the piece,” Kellerman says “Or there might be something that I hear that really moves me and I know immediately that I have to do this song.” Kellerman has pulled many of the themes from his first album into the second and many of his original influences are still there. However, there is a much stronger African flavour, with some interesting collaborations with Senegal’s Lamine Sonko. “Every musician influences you and from every collaboration you learn something,” he says.

 

Three years ago, flautist Wouter Kellerman exploded on to the South African world music scene in a burst of musical colour and texture. His first album, Colour, was nominated for a South African Music Award (Sama) for Best Instrumental Album in 2008. The album’s DVD – Kellerman Colour Live – won the 2010 Sama for Best Jazz/Instrumental/Popular Classical DVD. Kellerman has been travelling the world with his flutes and multi-layered sound. This year he has performed at the opening ceremony of the international Midem conference in France and at the closing ceremony of the Fifa World Cup. When asked what it is about his music that has garnered him such a diverse, multicultural fanbase, Kellerman put it down to two things; his influences and the flute. “I think the fact that I’m influenced by such a wide range of different things makes my music accessible to many people. There is Irish influence as well as Latin and African.”
But it is the flute that Kellerman believes attracts people to his music – it isn’t an instrument commonly played outside of the classical music genre. “It is very unlikely for a flautist to play at a World Cup, isn’t it?” he points out. “I think people relate to the flute because it is played by breathing and everyone can do that. “My kind of flute playing is not a classic style, where you try and hide the breath. You have to hear me breath. I am a live musician. I like people to hear the breath when I play and to hear the air in the notes. I am very particular about that in my live concerts and in my recordings.” One could consider Kellerman a collector of sounds. He celebrates diversity and experiments with a wide range of influences and sounds. Even the sound of the Joburg hadedas – which he loves – has found its way into his music.
Colour was really the solo result of these  sound experiments. Kellerman’s new album, Two Voices, takes his diversity of ideas one step further, as he collaborates on each piece of music with a different artist. “When I work with another artist, we start with a totally blank page. “We will just start playing and in that process we will hit on something that sounds good and then we will use that as the starting point for the piece,” Kellerman says “Or there might be something that I hear that really moves me and I know immediately that I have to do this song.” Kellerman has pulled many of the themes from his first album into the second and many of his original influences are still there. However, there is a much stronger African flavour, with some interesting collaborations with Senegal’s Lamine Sonko. “Every musician influences you and from every collaboration you learn something,” he says.

Three years ago, flautist Wouter Kellerman exploded on to the South African world music scene in a burst of musical colour and texture. His first album, Colour, was nominated for a South African Music Award (Sama) for Best Instrumental Album in 2008. The album’s DVD – Kellerman Colour Live – won the 2010 Sama for Best Jazz/Instrumental/Popular Classical DVD. Kellerman has been travelling the world with his flutes and multi-layered sound. This year he has performed at the opening ceremony of the international Midem conference in France and at the closing ceremony of the Fifa World Cup. When asked what it is about his music that has garnered him such a diverse, multicultural fanbase, Kellerman put it down to two things; his influences and the flute. “I think the fact that I’m influenced by such a wide range of different things makes my music accessible to many people. There is Irish influence as well as Latin and African.”

But it is the flute that Kellerman believes attracts people to his music – it isn’t an instrument commonly played outside of the classical music genre. “It is very unlikely for a flautist to play at a World Cup, isn’t it?” he points out. “I think people relate to the flute because it is played by breathing and everyone can do that. “My kind of flute playing is not a classic style, where you try and hide the breath. You have to hear me breath. I am a live musician. I like people to hear the breath when I play and to hear the air in the notes. I am very particular about that in my live concerts and in my recordings.” One could consider Kellerman a collector of sounds. He celebrates diversity and experiments with a wide range of influences and sounds. Even the sound of the Joburg hadedas – which he loves – has found its way into his music.

Colour was really the solo result of these  sound experiments. Kellerman’s new album, Two Voices, takes his diversity of ideas one step further, as he collaborates on each piece of music with a different artist. “When I work with another artist, we start with a totally blank page. “We will just start playing and in that process we will hit on something that sounds good and then we will use that as the starting point for the piece,” Kellerman says “Or there might be something that I hear that really moves me and I know immediately that I have to do this song.” Kellerman has pulled many of the themes from his first album into the second and many of his original influences are still there. However, there is a much stronger African flavour, with some interesting collaborations with Senegal’s Lamine Sonko. “Every musician influences you and from every collaboration you learn something,” he says.

 

Kleurig, fleurig, ’n ervaringsontploffing! Al die reënboogkleure word in bollings verhoogrook ’n beurt gegee met die musiek ’n voortsetting daarvan.

Voorheen het ek al kleur gepróé in die donkerpers van bosbessies, die pienk van ’n waatlemoen, die skreeuoranje van ’n ryp lemoen. Maar nog nooit het ek geweet ’n mens kan kleur hóór nie. Die towerklanke van Wouter Kellerman se verskeidenheid dwarsfluit voer jou mee. Beligtingswerk verf die.

 

South Africa, in the global spotlight as venue for this year's FIFA World Cup, is also MIDEM's Country Of Honour.
The country's vibrant culture is showcased tonight in the Salan Acajou and ballroom of the Martinez, with acts including MC Mangaliso Ngeme, Tidal Waves, the Maletangwao Cultural Troupe, Zuluboy, Wouter Kellerman, and Nothembi Mkhwebane. Monday night sees a tribute to the late Miriam Makeba at a dinner in Carlton.
At 15.00 today, a panel of experts on South Africa's music industry will be Telling The South African Story.
Before that, at 11.00, Lulu Xingwana, South Africa's arts and culture minister, and her department's director general Themba Wakashe, brief the media on plans for a year of cultural festivity.

South Africa, in the global spotlight as venue for this year's FIFA World Cup, is also MIDEM's Country Of Honour.The country's vibrant culture is showcased tonight in the Salan Acajou and ballroom of the Martinez, with acts including MC Mangaliso Ngeme, Tidal Waves, the Maletangwao Cultural Troupe, Zuluboy, Wouter Kellerman, and Nothembi Mkhwebane. Monday night sees a tribute to the late Miriam Makeba at a dinner in Carlton.


At 15.00 today, a panel of experts on South Africa's music industry will be Telling The South African Story.Before that, at 11.00, Lulu Xingwana, South Africa's arts and culture minister, and her department's director general Themba Wakashe, brief the media on plans for a year of cultural festivity.

 

From Latin America to Ireland and Africa. Kellerman's diverse styles and arrangements make this primarily instrumental, world music album a listening pleasure.

Colour is the long-awaited album of one of South Africa's premier flautists, Wouter Kellerman. 

A strongly collaborated album that includes the talents of artists like Mauritz Lotz, Paul Whellock, Nianell and Tim Moloi and double Grammy winner Husky Hoskulds who is responsible for mixing the album.

Colour includes both arrangements like Piazzola's Vuelvo Al Sur, a Latin American piece, and on the other end of the spectrum, Prince's Nothing Compares To You and composed pieces by Kellerman.

A surprising album in the way of a traditional Celtic piece like Irish March can lie side by side with unusual Khokho. An African-inspired celebration of the most versatile of instruments - the human voice. And neither piece seems to be out of place. But one thing is for certain, this is not a traditional flute album.

South Africa's premier flautist Kellerman (aka Wouter Kellerman) brings us his long awaited debut album, 'Colour'. From the very first note this is one of those CDs that you just know will be glued to your CD player for months to come. Relaxing, fun, soulful and joyful throughout 'Colour' is destined to be a timeless classic.

You can tell that one of Kellerman's passions, apart from music, is for the vibrant and diverse cultures that cover our world. Throughout the album he joyfully explores his own South African heritage (and Akrikaans roots in the final track 'Al Le Die Berge'), as well as delving into the rich and passionate world of the Argentinean Tango, whilst Spanish and Irish themes also abound.

Highlight tracks include the beautifully seductive and sultry tango 'Vuelvo al Sur' which just oozes with South American passion, 'Told U So' a lively and cheeky South African number and 'Quisas, quisas, quisas' the Lila Downs song made popular by the film Tortilla Soup. Having chosen those tracks I do have to say that every time I listen to 'Colour' I keep changing my mind about my favourites, the CD is just that good with tracks appropriate for all times and moods.

In this album Kellerman is joined on many of the tracks by Paul Whellock and Mauritz Lotz on guitars with artists such as Nianell, Veronique (of Idols fame) and Salome Sechele, amongst others, adding their considerable vocal talents.
One of the most striking features of 'Colour' is that everything feels so personal, and throughout there is an overriding sense of fun, you can just tell that these musicians enjoy jamming together.

Also impressive is the very high production quality, I wasn't surprised then find then that this is in part due to Kellerman securing Husky Höskulds to mix 'Colour' for him, a man who has won Grammy's for his work with Norah Jones and Sheryl Crow.

If anyone is wondering how versatile and how beautiful the flute can be then this is the perfect CD to listen to. I don't think I've ever heard such graceful, gentle and lyrical playing, combined with a sense joyful fun and heartfelt expression. In the sleeve notes Kellerman ends by thanking his parents who after taking him to a symphony concert asked 'Which instrument would you like to play?', I'm certainly glad he chose the flute.

So if you're looking for something to add to your collection that will help you unwind at the end of busy and stressful day, one that will make you forget all your troubles, put a smile back on your face and even get you dancing around the house, then look no further than 'Colour'.

SHOW: Kellerman’s Colours - The amazing thing about the flute is that it’s simply a pipe with holes in it, yet the sound it produces in the right hands can be truly captivating, writes David Jenkin

VENUE: The Yopanis Gallery, Randburg

CAST: Wouter Kellerman, Michal George, Phresh Makhene

Wouter Kellerman is a renowned flautist who put his talents on display on August 7 and 8, along with international award-winning classical guitarist Michal George, amazingly talented percussionist Phresh Makhene, powerful vocalist Nonhlanhla Mdluli and Wessel van Rensburg, one of SA’s leading jazz pianists.

The venue was small, with a just a few chairs set up in an art gallery with a small stage.

There were perhaps no more than 20 people in attendance, but it made for a more intimate performance.

Before the show began, an arist painted a picture in front of the stage on a transparent canvas.

Beginning with very soft tunes, Kellerman introduced his band through a gradual build-up. The music had a distinctly African flavour which was supported by bongo drums.

As the rhythm picked up, three dancers came to the fore.

The dancers, Muntu Ngubane, Carmia Cruywagen and Kabelo Sebusi, moved with appropriate rhythms and demonstrated some remarkable skills with vivid movements, and a bit of Latin flavour incorporated at times.

For one of the final pieces, the dancers joined the band on stage as they played a thundering drum beat accompanied by the guitar, keyboard and flute.

There were very few points worth criticising – one or two slip-ups, but nothing too noticeable.

Much of what they performed was more or less improvised, such as a duel between Kellerman’s flute and the guitar.

The music the flute produces is very simple, and one song in par-ticular was composed with only two chords, but as Kellerman himself stated: “There is beauty in simplicity.”

Kellerman’s new album, Colour, reached No 1 on the Classic FM charts in SA, and was nominated for a Sama award.

He’s recently secured record deals in Europe and received offers from Australia and the US. Most of the music performed on the night was from this album.