Samro music scholarship prize sings South African tune

The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro) Foundation has announced the names of 12 semi-finalists chosen after an intense selection process for the 2015 Samro Overseas Scholarship Competition. The selection was made from 35 applicants of South African vocalists, narrowed down to six finalists each, in the two categories of Western Art Music and Jazz Music.

The competition, which takes place annually, will see the semi-finalists competing live on August 27 during the intermediate round of the competition and one vocalist in each category will be chosen to win a R170 000 study award and the chance to advance their musical journey. 

Many previous winners have gone on to become internationally eminent and successful Western art and jazz musicians.

The semi-finalists are vocalists between the ages of 20 and 30, many of whom are already professional performers mastering their craft.  

“The vocal ability of this year’s candidates is exceptional, and the high standards of candidates’ teachers comes through in their voices,” managing director of the Samro Foundation, Andre Le Roux, told the Mail & Guardian

“The Foundation and adjudication panel was also impressed by several candidates who selected South African works in jazz and classical repertoire for the competition, which is indicative of an increased appreciation of South African composition.” 

The competition has come a long way since its inception and in contrast to the previous years of the competition, “we are now starting to hear a truly South African sound”, says Le Roux.

“There seems to be increased appreciation of South African composition. For us as a foundation within Africa’s largest music rights organisation and composers’ society, this is proof that we’re doing impactful work to preserve our rich heritage and shape the new inclusive voice of our country,” he adds.

SA musical flair
For over 50 years, the Samro Overseas Scholarship Competition, which start in 1962, has focused on universally showcasing South African musical flair and has gradually developed to reflect the history, struggles, triumphs as well as the distinct cultural identity of the country.

These features were among those that the Samro Foundation administrators and adjudicators based their selection on but they were also impressed by candidates that chose South African compositions in their repertoire for the competition. Over the years, the competition chose prescribed work that addresses themes such as the African renaissance and a collective African identity. 

“2015’s prescribed pieces speak to our vision for the future by interpreting a commissioned piece by Antjie Krog and Njabulo Ndebele which gave poetic life to South Africa’s National Development Plan. It is after all the arts that can clearly illustrate, or illuminate not just who we are, but also where we are going,” says Le Roux. 

The Samro Overseas Scholarship Competition alternates annually between awards for vocalists, instrumentalists, keyboard players and composers.

The top six semi-finalists in this year’s Western Art Music category are: Khanyiso Gwenxane, Andiswa Makana, Nombuso Ndlandla, Levy Sekgapane, Makudupanyane Senaoana and Victoria Stevens. 

In the Jazz Music category, Amy Campbell, Mikhaela Kruger, Palesa Modiga, Nelmarie Rabie, Kwena Ramahuta and Amy Walton make up the top six. 

For the final round of the competition at the Wits Linder Auditorium, four finalists – two from each category – will compete for top prizes on August 29. This round is open to the public and will feature special guests, live performances and a selection of musical works including a South African composition that has been specially commissioned for the noteworthy event. 

Through bursaries, scholarships, commissions, the preservation of music heritage and other industry enrichment projects, Samro – founded in 1962 – has invested over R100 million in aiding and sustaining the cultural landscape of South Africa. 

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Arts Desk
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