Jazz musos fly KZN flag high in SAMRO competition

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Sidney Rash and Linda Sikhakhane, the KZN finalists.
Sidney Rash and Linda Sikhakhane, the KZN finalists.

Two young KwaZulu-Natal jazz musicians are hoping to secure a spot in the finals of the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition in Joburg this month.

Saxophonist Linda Sekhakhane and drummer Sidney Rash are two of the six semi-finalists in the Jazz Music category of the SAMRO Foundation’s illustrious annual music competition, which this year focuses on instrumentalists.

Both studied jazz at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, and both have their sights set on a R200 000 scholarship to further their music studies abroad.

On 18 August 2016, Linda and Sidney will join fellow young jazz prodigies Keenan Ahrends, Justin Bellairs, Siyasanga Charles and Benjamin Jephta to compete before a high-level judging panel during the semi-final round of the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition.

The six semi-finalists in the Western Art Music category — Matthew Lombard, Sally Minter, Neil Robertson, Tatiana Thaele, Myles Roberts and Dylan Tabisher — will also be going all out to deliver their A-game on the day.

Two Jazz and two Western Art Music instrumentalists will then be selected to perform in the final round: a public concert – always an immensely entertaining and highly charged affair – at the Linder Auditorium in Parktown on Saturday, 20 August 2016.

The glittering prize all 12 semi-finalists have their sights set on: two R200 000 scholarships from the SAMRO Foundation to further their music studies abroad, plus several additional awards.

Linda Sikhakhane is a saxophonist, composer and arranger. He was born in Umlazi, where his love for music, especially jazz, was triggered at an early age. He attended music classes and started performing professionally at the age of 15, before studying jazz at the University of KwaZulu-Natal under Prof Mageshen Naidoo.

Now based in Johannesburg, Linda has played with respected South African and international artists such as Barney Rachabane, Brian Thusi, Feya Faku, Marcus Wyatt, Gregory Potter and Malcolm Braff, as well as at several jazz festivals. He played tenor saxophone on Nduduzo Makhathini’s recent album and forms part of Afrika Mkhize’s septet.

Sidney Rash is quickly becoming an in-demand session drummer, and has worked with premier South African and international artists (including Barry Gibb, French Montana, Paul Potts and Darius Brubeck). He is known for his musicality and versatility on the drums, and graduated his Honours degree summa cum laude from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in 2008.

Sidney has an ability to work in a range of styles, always bringing phenomenal energy to any project he is a part of. He also teaches drums in Durban, and is passionate about seeing the next generation of musicians achieve the very best that they can.

This is Sidney’s second stab at the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition: he made it through to the final round in 2008 where, aged just 21, he was named runner-up in the Jazz category.

To find out more about attending the finals of the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition at the Linder Auditorium on Saturday, 20 August 2016, email naseema.yusuf@samro.org.za. For tickets to the finals, visit https://www.webtickets.co.za/event.aspx?itemid=1464205541.

Visit www.samrofoundation.org.za for more information on the SAMRO Foundation’s programmes and projects, or follow @SAMROFoundation on Twitter and Facebook.

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