Singers invited to apply for SAMRO scholarships

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Semi-finalists in the 2011 SAMRO Scholarships competition for Singers.
Semi-finalists in the 2011 SAMRO Scholarships competition for Singers.

Are you South Africa’s next vocal sensation? If you are a gifted young jazz or opera singer, you could win a coveted SAMRO Overseas Scholarship.

Applications for the 2015 SAMRO Overseas Scholarships for singers are now open, but the 15 May 2015 deadline is fast approaching. Music students and young professionals aged 32 and younger are eligible to apply for these prestigious music study awards.

Every year since 1962, the SAMRO Foundation – which manages music education and corporate social investment programmes on behalf of the Southern African Music Rights Organisation – offers South Africa’s gifted music students the opportunity to win one of two lucrative scholarships to further their postgraduate studies overseas.

One of these is awarded in the Western Art (or “classical”) music genre and the other is presented for excellence in jazz music. The scholarships operate on a four-year cycle, alternating among instrumentalists, composers, keyboard players and singers.

In 2015, the SAMRO Foundation is inviting applications from music students majoring in vocal performance at a South African university. Applicants must be citizens of South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho or Swaziland, born after 15 May 1982.

The two main overseas scholarship awards are currently valued at R170 000 each, with a number of subsidiary prizes also available for exceptional candidates. The total prize pot for this highly regarded annual music competition amounts to almost R500 000.

The SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition has produced a gallery of illustrious singing alumni over the past 50 years.

After winning the 2011 SAMRO scholarship in the Western Art category, University of Cape Town alumnus Maudé Montierre went on to obtain her Master’s degree in opera cum laude at the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London. Currently a PhD student at UCT, she hopes to become the youngest South African to graduate with a doctorate next year.

Since winning the SAMRO scholarship, Maudé has sung in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in New York and was a finalist in the Wilhelm Stenhammar International Music Competition in Sweden. She has also been invited to sing at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in Germany and the Glimmerglass Festival Young Artists’ Programme in the United States.

Among her roles to date, she counts appearances for Cape Town Opera as well as singing the challenging Queen of the Night aria from Die Zauberflöte for Brent Opera in London and Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel for Edinburgh’s Opera Holloway, to great acclaim. Maudé will be singing Donna Anna in Don Giovanni on London’s West End in July.

Fellow UCT graduate Vuyo Sotashe was always earmarked for great things. Even before winning the jazz singing category in the 2011 SAMRO Overseas Scholarships competition, Vuyo had performed with George Benson at the Cape Town International Jazz Festival and had received a South African Music Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album with his church’s worship band, Proxy.

In 2012, he was selected to sing with the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band at the Johannesburg Joy of Jazz Festival before touring Sweden with the band.

Vuyo was subsequently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to further his studies in the United States and has also taken lessons with the likes of Maria Schneider and a Thelonious Monk Competition winner and Grammy nominated vocalist – Gretchen Parlato.

Both of these young music luminaries-in-the-making used their SAMRO scholarships as a springboard to greater things, and now the sky is certainly the limit for Vuyo and Maudé – as will be the case for this year’s winners.

The scholarships competition takes the format of three rounds, adjudicated by a panel of music experts and culminating in a public gala concert at the Linder Auditorium in Johannesburg. There, the two top candidates in each category will be required to perform a number of prescribed and individually selected compositions, accompanied by professional musicians.

Prospective candidates for the 2015 SAMRO Overseas Scholarships for singers are invited to download the regulations and the application form from the SAMRO Foundation website (www.samrofoundation.org.za). Applications should be submitted to: SAMRO Foundation, 20 De Korte Street, Braamfontein, 2017, before Friday, 15 May 2015. Enquiries may be directed to anriette.chorn@samro.org.za

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