Southern African Music Rights Organisation crowns two instrumentalists

The Southern African Music Rights Organisation, through the SAMRO Foundation, has crowned two winners of its overseas scholarship competition at Johannesburg’s Linder auditorium on Saturday 20 August.

Linda Sikhane is one of the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship winners. Photo: Dwayne Innocent Kapula
Linda Sikhane is one of the SAMRO Overseas Scholarship winners. Photo: Dwayne Innocent Kapula

Linda Sikhakhane, a jazz saxophonist and Dylan Tabisher, a marimba player, were announced as winners of scholarship worth R200,000 (US$13,500) each. Sikhakhane is a 24 year old University of KwaZulu-Natal graduate based in Johannesburg, while Tabisher, 28, studied at Stellenbosch University and is based in Cape Town. Both winners had entered the SAMRO competition four years ago, failing to make it until this year.  

The study awards will enable the young instrumentalists pursue career-enhancing music studies or master classes at an international institution of their choice. They also received R5,000 for the best performance of a prescribed South African composition.

Runners-up Benjamin Jephta and Sally Minter won R70,000 each. Jephta, a bass guitarist, and Minter, a flautist, competed in the Jazz and Western Art Music categories, respectively. A number of subsidiary and merit prizes were also awarded to the semi-finalists on the night. Merit awards of R10,000 each went to saxophonist Justin Bellairs and flautist Tatiana Taele. The two SAMRO/Bonhams Awards (one in each category) were won by guitarist Keenan Ahrends and flautist Neil Robertson, while the SAMRO/De Waal Award went to trombonist Siya Charles.

The 12 young musicians who competed in this year’s scholarships competition joined the SAMRO Foundation’s growing “family” of outstanding music achievers. Their artistic excellence has been applauded on a public platform and their innate talent catapulted to even greater heights.

In addition, many alumni of the competition were present at Saturday night’s event. Three of the adjudicators were winners of past competitions; Magdalene De Vries and Mike Campbell won it 20 years ago, and Gareth Walwyn won the competition in 2006. Zoë Modiga, last year’s winner blew the audience away with her performances, and the winner of the 2013 composer’s award, Prince Bulo, contributed a commissioned work for the Jazz candidates.

This year in July, SAMRO Foundation unveiled 12 semi-finalists in its 2016 Overseas Scholarships Competition. On that Saturday night, a total of six Jazz and six Western Art Music performed to further their music studies abroad, plus an array of additional awards. 

Next year’s SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition will be held for keyboard players (including pianists and organists) in both the Western Art and Jazz music categories. Last year, Levy Sekgapane (Western Art music) and Zoe Modiga (jazz) were named the winners of this year’s competition for singers.

Since 1962, generations of composers, singers, and keyboard players have benefited from SAMRO’s professional boost through its sizable investments in music education. At least four SAMRO Overseas Scholarship winners (Kesivan Naidoo, Ben Schoeman, Bokani Dyer and Avigail Bushkevitz) have also been recognised as Standard Bank Young Artist award recipients, and countless others have gone to pursue successful professional careers as internationally renowned musicians.

The main award in each genre (Western art and jazz) currently stands at R200,000 each, to be used by the winners to further their music studies internationally or enrich themselves through master classes. Each year, candidate submissions are evaluated by a panel of adjudicators appointed from the top echelons of music academia and practice.

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