Biography

Portrait photograph of Anne de Waal

Anne de Waal was born in East London South Africa in 1963. Right from the start music played an important role in her life. She remembers long summer evenings of music where she lay curled by the feet of her mother, whilst in warm glowing lamplight, her various family members played the piano or sang until she drifted to sleep, the sound of her Grandfather’s rich baritone, her Uncle’s smooth tenor, and the nimble fingers of her Grandmother and Father on the piano indelibly imprinted in her memory.

When the family inherited an old radiogram, Anne would shut herself into a room with the records of Strauss, Liszt and Tchaikovsky strewn around, and would allow the strains of the music to lift her into an unimaginable world. She danced alone, for hours, with wings on her feet, her arms lifted in passion and her body worshipping the sound of the orchestra.

Her Father began her music training when she was five, and she vividly remembers having no clue of what he was talking about! Nevertheless, after the family re-located to Johannesburg, Anne took piano lessons from Yvonne Draper, the piano teacher who lived next door. She made remarkable progress.

From very young she attended church services, sitting on the long wooden organ seat beside her Father, as he conducted the church choirs and played the organ. As she grew older, she joined with her three younger siblings, performing in Cantata’s produced by her Father in churches, where she played the violin.

Anne went on to join the SABC Youth Orchestra and matriculated from the National School of the Arts in Johannesburg. She chose to keep music as a hobby and went to study teaching, which was where she met her husband, the music lecturer at the time and top South African Tenor and choirmaster, Dana de Waal.

She graduated as a primary school teacher in 1987 and went on to have two children to whom she was completely devoted, but found it was impossible for her to keep music far from the centre of her life. Indeed she found that it now defined who she was and how her family unit functioned. She became the official accompanist for her husband and performed all around South Africa with him, their children curled up in sleeping bags backstage!

As a teacher, she found working with her small charges demanding and exhausting, but this did not stop her from writing music to aid her lessons. She became a choir mistress par excellence in her own right and produced a number of shows that she composed for the children with whom she worked.

She and her family moved to the UK where she continues to delight audiences with her spirited nimble accompaniment of her husband and various choirs. School children and choirs enjoy singing her compositions, which have now been performed in various corners of the Earth.

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