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12 Semi-Finalists for SAMRO Scholarships Competition

Six Jazz and six Western Art Music performers go head-to-head for two R200 000 in the SAMRO Scholarships Competition to further their music studies abroad

The battle is on for SA’s best young instrumentalists, with the SAMRO Scholarships Competition in it’s last leg and the 12 semi-finalists for 2016 announced.

The Jazz semi-finalists are:

  • Keenan Ahrends (guitar),
  • Justin Bellairs (alto saxophone),
  • Siyasanga Charles (trombone),
  • Benjamin Jephta (bass guitar),
  • Sidney Rash (drums), and
  • Linda Sikhakhane (tenor sax).

The Western Art Music semi-finalists are:

  • Matthew Lombard (saxophone),
  • Sally Minter (flute),
  • Myles Roberts (flute),
  • Neil Robertson (flute),
  • Dylan Tabisher (marimba), and
  • Tatiana Thaele (flute).

Truly 12 of the best, the participants will compete in the semi-final round in Johannesburg on 18 August, where they will be judged by a high-level panel of music professionals.

Additionally, two Jazz and two Western Art Music finalists will perform during a public concert at the Linder Auditorium on Saturday, 20 August 2016. Included in the finalists’ repertoire will be premiere performances of challenging commissioned works written by top South African composers.

The SAMRO Scholarships Competition rotates on a four-yearly cycle between rewarding singers, instrumentalists, composers and keyboard players.

“What is interesting about our competition is that some performers hold it in such high regard that they are willing to wait a long time to re-enter our competition. It speaks to the values of persistence, patience and perseverance, qualities that often make for long-term successful careers in the music business.For us it bears testament to the stature of this competition that we are seeing repeat entrants, some from eight years ago and others from four years ago. This year they have returned, having sharpened their musical chops, for another shot at the top prize.” – André le Roux, SAMRO Foundation Managing Director.

Jazz trumpeter Darren English, winner of the 2012 SAMRO Overseas Scholarship, graduated from Georgia State University with a master’s degree in 2014. Now based in Georgia, with the recent release of his first album, Imagine Nation, which is doing exceptionally well. He is the notably youngest artist to be signed to leading Atlanta jazz label Hot Shoe Records.

Like English, many of the previous award winners have already achieved high levels of professional accomplishment. All crediting their participation in the SAMRO Scholarships Competition as a stepping-stone to even greater heights.

Visit for more information on the SAMRO Foundation’s programmes and projects, or follow @SAMROFoundation on Twitter and Facebook.

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