Two of South Africa’s leading cultural luminaries, the internationally acclaimed soprano, Pumeza Matshikiza, and multiple award-winning baritone, Njabulo Madlala, will give a joint concert titled A Night at the Opera, in Cape Town on 24 February 2018. Hosted by Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate in support of Voices of South Africa Trust, this fund-raising event takes place at 7pm at Hugo Lamprechts Music Centre, Picton Street, Parow.
Hailed as ‘one of today's most exciting new operatic voices’ (The Independent), Pumeza Matshikiza has enjoyed ecstatic press in the past few seasons for her work on the opera stage, concert platform and recording studio. An exclusive Decca recording artist, she has been hailed as ‘shining with radiant promise’. The sheer beauty of the young singer’s vocal timbre, married to her sophisticated musicality and technical accomplishment, have heralded the arrival of a major classical star.
South African music-lovers will welcome the chance to hear Matshikiza, one of the most distinguished alumni of the University of Cape Town’s College of Music, performing on home soil with the multi-talented Durban-born operatic baritone, Njabulo Madlala. Aside from his own illustrious professional accomplishments in British and European music circles over the past two decades, London-based Madlala has won wide respect for his unstinting work in fostering young South African classical singers abroad.
Announced in his home country as the Standard Bank Young Artist for Music in 2014, Madlala’s achievements in Britain include winning the 2010 Kathleen Ferrier Award in London’s Wigmore Hall, as well as reaching the final round of the Royal Overseas League Competition in 2012, and being awarded the Lorna Viol Memorial Prize, the Royal Overseas League Trophy for the most outstanding musician from overseas.
Pumeza and Njabulo will be joined by friends in an evening of beautiful music featuring arias, duets and excerpts from operas by Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Verdi, Puccini, Bizet and more. The artists will be accompanied by celebrated British pianist David Gowland.
Booking for A Night at the Opera on 24 February is through Webtickets at selected Pick ‘n Pay outlets, or online at www.webtickets.co.za. Tickets (R200 – R400) include the concert and drinks at interval.
This event will be preceded by a select performance of the same programme on 17 February, also in aid of Opera Voices of South Africa Trust. Starting at 6.30pm, the exclusive evening kicks off with a wine reception hosted by and presented at Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate, Jan Van Riebeek Drive, Newton in Wellington, Western Cape. Tickets at R425 include the concert as well as welcome and interval drinks. Tickets at R800 include the above, as well as post performance wine-tasting and dinner (accommodation at reduced rates on request). Booking for the Wellington event is through Hazel Kelly (email: Marketing2@diemersfontein.co.za).
Njabulo Madlala introduces his Voices of South Africa initiative - and this month’s events involving young singers:
I have selected 25 young singers who will take part in masterclasses to be run from 15 to 23 February, and the singing contest at the end of the 10 days. Opera masterclasses will happen daily at Diemersfontein Wine and Country Estate, who have generously provided the facilities to hold the classes, which are open to the public who want to come and watch.
The Royal Opera House (ROH), English National Opera (ENO) and Opera North (ON) in the UK have all agreed to support this year’s masterclasses by sending five of their highly experienced and sought after vocal coaches to lead the workshops and select a small number of singers to bring over to their programmes in the UK. This is a new partnership between Voices of South Africa Trust and these opera companies. The public final for the competition will be held from 3pm on Sunday 25 February at Hugo Lambrecht’s theatre.
More information visit http://www.capetown.travel/calendar/voices-of-south-africa-international-competition. Apart from hearing the singers involved with the competition, ROH, ENO and ON will hold a full day of opera auditions for all singers who are not in the competition on the 26 February.
Voices of South Africa Trust
Voices of South Africa Trust is dedicated to the education, mentoring and inspiring the next generation of opera stars out of South Africa. It is a registered non-profit initiative founded by the South African opera singer Njabulo Madlala. Its main goal is to provide young gifted artists with an avenue for personal and professional development by offering opportunities for learning and mentoring through a yearly programme of workshops and masterclasses given by leading professionals in the field from around the world.
Key aims include enabling the training, education and nurturing of young musicians, by supporting local, national and international collaborations; acting as a bridge between young artists and professional music institutions; introducing Western classical music especially opera previously known to be a European art form to a wider South African audience while promoting South African music and composers through a South African song prize.
Voices Of South Africa Trust runs a yearly programme of opera masterclasses and workshops in South Africa. The work is aimed at the development of young people through the medium of music and the arts. Young people seeking to use their talents to change their lives.
Each year, aspiring opera singers are selected from across South Africa through a rigorous audition process. The majority of the singers are from the townships where access to music and arts education is still lacking.
Leading and established international opera stars, conductors and vocal coaches are invited to come to South Africa each year to lead masterclasses in a highly focused but very supportive and safe environment. The period of workshops is structured to provide a variety of opportunities for the teachers to pass on professional knowledge gained through many years of work as opera professionals.
The component workshops cover a wide range of topics including understanding their basic instruments, developing their musicianship and improving their general understanding of the music industry (including an overview of the opportunities that exist and how best to go about accessing them).
By the end of the programme our aspiring singers will have gained a greater appreciation of the pressures, complexities and rewards of working in the arts and, most importantly, how to launch and maintain a long and successful career as a professional singer.
Relationships, Collaborations and Support
The project’s main aim is realised not only through links with individuals within the opera profession but also through partnering with international organisations (including the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Opera North, Les Azuriales Opera, Woodhouse Opera Festival, Henri Moerel Foundation and the Diemersfontein Excellence Out of Africa Trust).
We have already been able to identify, mentor and empower a large number of singers helping them to change their lives using their own talents. For example, we have helped six young people travel to the UK for auditions and studies at various institutions including the Royal College of Music, The Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme and the National Opera Studio.
Alongside vocal coaching and masterclasses which are open to the general public in South Africa, we also stage concerts in order to develop our engagement with the community.
These events also provide our young artists with opportunities to gain valuable experience of singing in front of an audience. Each year the whole masterclass program ends with a two-day singing competition, recorded for future broadcast on national television. The singing competition gives the young singers a platform to showcase their talents in front of their peers and the wider community, as well as exposure to potential employers and education institutions.
-Interviews & more photos available on request-
Photo credits: 1: Pumeza Matshikiza (Decca / Simon Fowler); 2: Njabulo Madlala (Val Adamson)
Written by William Charlton-Perkins