Thursday, 30 May 2013

SAMRO mentorship programme sees a meeting of musical minds


South Africa’s composers of tomorrow are receiving personal tuition by the best in the music business, thanks to the SAMRO Foundation’s new mentorship programme.
 
This novel programme, aimed at developing the country’s next generation of music creators, pairs established local composers with promising up-and-coming composers who are eager to create new works in the jazz or Western art genres.
 
The aim is to equip promising young musicians with the necessary skills and techniques to expand the current oeuvre of original South African orchestral works – a sphere of music whose development is lagging behind that of others in this country.
 
“As a collecting society that chiefly serves the composers and authors of music, SAMRO strongly believes it is essential to invest in cultivating our country’s bubbling-under composing talent. This will hopefully help address and correct the current shortage of significant orchestral works by South African composers,” explains André le Roux, the Managing Director of the SAMRO Foundation.
 
The six-month mentoring programme kicked off in May 2013, and is already seeing a constructive meeting of minds between eight up-and-coming composers and six seasoned music professionals and academics. Should this pilot project prove successful, the Foundation envisages it becoming an ongoing programme.
 
Professor Peter Klatzow, a composer and former teacher of contemporary classical music at the University of Cape Town, and himself the winner of the SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition for Composers in 1964, is mentoring Amy Crankshaw and Andrew Hoole. Crankshaw, a third-year student at UCT, is studying towards a BMus in composition, with French horn and piano as her main instruments. She plays principal horn in the UCT Symphony Orchestra and in several chamber music groups. Hoole, who studied jazz composition and arrangement at UCT and is working on his Masters in composition, collaborated on the locally-produced animated feature film Adventures in Zambezia as assistant composer and orchestrator.
 
Notable jazz arranger, composer, teacher and pianist Noel Stockton, who lectures in jazz studies at the University of the Free State, will be sharing his vast experience and wisdom with Andrew-John Betheke and Mandla Mlangeni.
 
Mlangeni, a Soweto-born trumpeter, composer, bandleader and arranger who also studied at UCT, was the runner-up in last year’s SAMRO Overseas Scholarships Competition for instrumentalists. Betheke, another UCT graduate who now works in Grahamstown, has experimented with orchestral and choral writing and produced a symphony that was brought to life by the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra.
 
Eminent composer Stefans Grové, one of the founding fathers of South African art music who is known for incorporating indigenous African elements into “Western” orchestral compositions, is coaching Evans Netshivhambe and Bernette Mulungo.
 
In addition, having been commissioned to compose a work for the SAMRO Scores for Young Players publication in 2010, Netshivhambe, a University of the Witwatersrand BMus graduate, has also written works for string and wind quartet. Mulungo is studying towards a Masters in music composition at Wits, focusing on research and theatre music. As composer, arranger and performer, he has created music for several campus and professional productions.
 
Dr Rexleigh Bunyard, a musician, composer and lecturer who is currently teaching voice and violin at Roedean School, is mentoring Jessica da Silva. Da Silva is majoring in composition studies and community music for her BMus at Wits, and has already had her orchestra and string quartet pieces played by the JPO Academy and a professional outfit, respectively.
 
British-born composer, conductor and cellist Allan Stephenson, who has lived and worked in South Africa for 40 years, is advising Laura Stevens. Stevens, a cellist, pianist and composer who studied at UCT before heading to the Royal College of Music in London to pursue her Masters, wishes to further hone her skills in particularly concert hall and screen composition.
 
Upon completion of the programme, the six candidates will be expected to produce an orchestral suite, which will then become part of SAMRO’s range of orchestral repertoire.

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