by Samro Foundation in General News Bursary News

SAMRO bursaries help musos live their dreams


(Image above L-R: Nandipha Mnyani, Slindile Dlamini, Mihi Matshingana, Conrad Asman, Féroll-Jon Davids)

The SAMRO Foundation has cemented its commitment to investing in South African music by awarding five special bursaries to high-calibre students.

These special music awards are in addition to the approximately R1 million worth of music bursaries SAMRO disburses to dozens of deserving students around the country every year.

Thanks to a number of generous bequests, this year the SAMRO Foundation was able to make more of special bursaries available than usual. They specifically focus on the under-serviced field of indigenous African music research, as well as on jazz and Western Art Music composition.

As one of the recipients, Feroll-Jon Davids, pointed out, these awards help young musicians “to realise our dreams and to build sustainable careers by pursuing what we love”.

The department heads of the various universities’ music schools were asked to motivate for deserving candidates for the special bursaries. The SAMRO Foundation executive team selected the award winners, which were approved by the chairman of the Foundation’s board, Leon van Wyk.

The SAMRO Foundation takes great pleasure in announcing the following recipients of its special bursaries for 2017:

SAMRO/Mzilikazi Khumalo Bursary (R30 000): Nandipha Mnyani (MMus – University of the Witwatersrand)

Nandie, a jazz singer with the Mnandi Blue Jazz Band and a concert instructor, says the SAMRO/Mzilikazi Khumalo Bursary will enable her to pursue her Master’s degree research into indigenous African music. Ultimately, she hopes to register for a PhD focusing on developing and advancing such music to “decolonise music education in our country”.

She says: “The inspiration to pursue this research came from noticing that there are few music educators who teach indigenous African music in the Magnet Schools programme. Through this research’s findings, I am hoping to gather data that will help me to develop teaching methods that can be used to teach indigenous African music in our schools. I also hope the research will inspire other music educators to consider teaching indigenous African music as well, because it is required by education policy.”

Nandie believes that when young people are given the opportunity to learn about their own roots music used African-centred philosophies, they will gain the confidence to be proud of their origins when performing their music.

Saying that Prof Khumalo has been her inspiration since she was a youngster singing choral music at school, she adds: “Receiving this bursary is an honour and I hope that through this research, I can honour his legacy with pride.”

  • SAMRO/Roodepoort International Eisteddfod Competition (RIESA) Bursary (R20 000): Féroll-Jon Davids (BMus: 2nd year – University of Stellenbosch)

Féroll-Jon says he was planning to become an accountant before several interactions with professional musicians “made me realise what I might be throwing away – a deep love and passion for music and a direction I had proven to have some talent in”.

He will be using the bursary to jump-start his postgraduate studies, hopefully abroad. “My passion and skills are seated in creating music in a group context, whether it be orchestral or as a member of a small ensemble. There is nothing more enjoyable than interacting with other passionate musicians. However, to keep this interaction fresh and of a high quality, one must be versatile, well-rounded, knowledgeable and exude craftsmanship as a musician.” This he hopes to do by keeping an open mind, broadening his skills and exposing himself to a number of musical influences.

“Receiving a SAMRO/RIESA Special Bursary has had a positive impact on my life, not only by encouraging me to study even harder but also showing me that although hard work is a reward in itself, it does encourage a generous mindset in general.”

  • SAMRO/RIESA Bursary (R20 000): Mihi Matshingana (BMus: 3rd year – University of the Witwatersrand)

Up-and-coming jazz vocalist and composer Mihi says she didn’t choose music – music chose her. “I consider every single day that I wake up to do music, whether it is pursuing a degree or performing on stage – a day spent living out my dream. I have always had a great desire for music – not just to listen to and perform it, but to learn about it too.”

Receiving the news that she had won a SAMRO/RIESA bursary sparked “complete disbelief”. “I was numb, and immediately called my mother. Upon hearing her tears of joy, mine were also released. My family and I have gone through the most difficult time in the past two years, especially financially. At the beginning of the year, I was certain that I would have to give up my dream of getting my BMus degree. Receiving the bursary gave me hope that maybe I won’t have to.”

She says once she completes her music degree, she intends to concentrate on performing and occasionally teaching. “My desire is to also inspire other people to become the best musicians they can be by leading by example and sharing all the knowledge I have received,” Mihi adds.

  • SAMRO/RIESA Bursary (R20 000): Slindile Dlamini (BMus in African Music & Dance: 2nd year: – University of KwaZulu-Natal)

Slindile says she is passionate about music and strives to ensure she attains good marks in each and every task she is given. “Since I was young I have seen myself as a master of music and a teacher of music – and now I can say that all my dreams are coming true.”

As for her future plans, she hopes to continue her music studies overseas – and to “change people’s lives through music. As I come from a disadvantaged family, I want to make them proud.”

“I am sincerely honoured to have been selected as the recipient of a SAMRO/RIESA bursary. I am very thankful for receiving their thoughtful gift, and I really appreciate their generous support. Their gesture will also encourage other students to excel in their studies.”

  • Ralph Trewhela Bursary (R11 000): Conrad Asman (BMus: 3rd year – University of Cape Town)

Conrad won the Cone Composition Competition, open to all undergraduate and postgraduate students at the South African College of Music, in his first year of study, and is described by Professor Hendrik Hofmeyr as “one of the most promising young composers I have encountered in my university career”.

Indeed, Conrad says he decided to study music at UCT precisely because of the opportunity to refine his craft under the tutelage of Prof Hofmeyr – “one of the leading composers that South Africa has to offer”.

“Since the beginning of my studies at UCT in 2015, I have been exposed to several opportunities that have significantly enhanced my compositional skill and portfolio,” he says. These include the Cone, Stefans Grové and KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic composition competitions, masterclasses with the likes of Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph and the Performing the Jewish Archive festival.

He plans to use the SAMRO/Ralph Trewhela Bursary to further his studies abroad, possibly in the United States or United Kingdom, in pursuit of a Master’s degree in music composition with a view to participating in upcoming competitions such as the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition for composers. “I hope to follow in the light of Ralph Trewhela and give back to our national arts community through my compositional output,” says Conrad.

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