Sjoerd Alkema is well known as conductor, accompanist, educator, business owner, examiner for UNISA and adjudicator. Having completed his BMus and MMus degrees at UCT, the Performer’s (UPLM) and Teacher’s licentiates (UTLM) at UNISA, he was awarded a Doctorate in Music in 2012 with his thesis entitled Conductors of the Cape Town Municipal Orchestra, 1914-1965: a historical perspective. He obtained the professional conducting degree at the Mozarteum in Salzburg in 1982 where he received master classes from Herbert von Karajan.
During his career he lectured at the Conservatoire in Windhoek and the Musicon in Bloemfontein. He was assistant conductor and rehearsal pianist at SWARUK and PACOFS where he had the privilege to be involved with various productions such as Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Aïda, La Traviata, Fidelio, La Bohème, Lucia di Lammermoor, Nabucco, as well as Showboat, Die Fledermaus, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Camelot and The Sound of Music.
He conducted the Free State Youth Symphony Orchestra for 11 years and enjoyed many highlights during annual tours and performances. Among these were the ballet Giselle, Hans Roosenschoon’s Does the noise in my head bother you? Peter Louis van Dijk’s San Gloria, The Selfish Giant and Evita. During this period he initiated and conducted the Bloemfontein Philharmonic Society in productions such as Mozart’s Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Creation, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and various opera and operetta excerpts. For the Bach, he was nominated as one of 10 finalists for Bloemfonteiner of the Year.
His pianistic career includes accompanying well-known artists such as Deon van der Walt, Douglas Masek, Jeanette Harris, André Howard, De Wet van Rooyen, René Rakin and Isabella van Zyl in concerts and recordings. Notable were the song cycles Die Schöne Müllerin, Winterreise and Dichterliebe by Schubert and works of Wolff, Rachmaninoff, Brahms, Dvořak, Lawrence Fall, and Arnold van Wyk.
Since the family moved to Cape Town in 2008, he has been teaching piano to advanced piano students, is a partner at Allmusic, and the President of the Crescendo Institute South Africa. In 2016 he was appointed conductor of the Con Spirito Philharmonic and conducted Handel’s Messiah, Mozart’s Requiem and Coronation Mass, Bach’s St John’s Passion, A Night at the Opera, Gloria by Vivaldi and Schubert’s Mass in G, among other works. Solo artist such as Liesl Stolz, Daniel Prozesky, and Peter Martens have performed under his baton.