by Samro Foundation in General News Events News Scholarship News Competition News

Keyboard wizards represent fairest Cape with flair


The Western Cape is a known hotbed of musical excellence, borne out by the 2017 crop of semi-finalists in the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition.

A total of five of the 12 semi-finalists in this year’s competition for keyboard players were raised in Cape Town and surrounds – but no fewer than seven completed their music studies at the universities of Cape Town or Stellenbosch, illustrating the calibre of music tuition in the province.

As the SAMRO Foundation prepares to present the 2017 edition of its internationally acclaimed SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition, the spotlight again falls on the high standard of the candidates.

The dozen pianists – seven jazz performers and five Western Art music maestros – contesting the semi-final round on 24 August 2017 at UNISA’s ZK Matthews Hall in Pretoria have already amassed acclaim and accolades galore. Now, they are hoping to crown it all with the cherry on the cake: one of two coveted R200 000 scholarships for international music study or professional development.

The semi-finalists will be whittled down to two in each category, to face off in the final round at the same venue on 26 August 2017.

As they prepare themselves mentally, technically and creatively for the semi-final round, here’s a snapshot of the five Western Cape-bred pianists who will be hoping to fly back home from Gauteng at the end of August with a coveted scholarship in hand:

Jazz semi-finalists

Nicholas Williams (31, from Cape Town) was the Jazz runner-up in the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition in 2013, enabling him to study in Zurich. He is a pianist and composer who was mentored by Mark Fransman. He studied jazz piano at the University of Cape Town under Dr Andrew Lilley and André Peterson.

Blake Hellaby (26, from Cape Town) graduated from the University of Cape Town with a BMus in performance in 2014, and has performed extensively on the local festival circuit as well as at the Oslo Jazz Festival, Berlin’s Young Euro Classic Festival and in France with the Delft Big Band. In 2016 he released his debut solo album, New Beginnings.

Western Art Music semi-finalists

Megan-Geoffrey Prins (26, from Riversdale) was the runner-up in the 2013 SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition. He is a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at the Cleveland Institute of Music. He completed his MMus there under Antonio Pompa-Baldi. This multi-award-winner often returns to South Africa to perform, teach and do community outreach work

Lourens Fick (26, from Paarl) is a Master’s student at the University of Stellenbosch, studying piano performance under Bennie van Eeden. As a child he learned how to play the recorder, piano, euphonium, flute and violin. He played in the South African premiere of Benjamin Britten’s Young Apollo, Op. 16, and has performed with several local orchestras.

Bronwyn van Wieringen (22, from Cape Town) is a SAMRO bursary recipient and regular orchestra soloist who completed her BMus in performance cum laude at the University of Cape Town under Professor Albie van Schalkwyk. In September, she is embarking on a Master’s degree in piano accompaniment at London’s Royal Academy of Music.

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Note to editors:

The 12 semi-finalists in the 2017 SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition for keyboard players are:

Western Art Music: Peter Cartwright, Willem de Beer, Lourens Fick, Megan-Geoffrey Prins and Bronwyn van Wieringen

Jazz: Lifa Arosi, Elizabeth Gaylord, Blake Hellaby, Teboho Kobedi, Ntando Ngcapo, Thandi Ntuli and Nicholas Williams

For interview requests, access to photos and media queries please contact Dee’s on or (011) 788 7632 Issued by JT Communication Solutions on behalf of SAMRO Foundation -

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