Since its inception almost four decades ago, one national award has come to be regarded as the ultimate accolade for young South African arts innovators on the cusp of greatness. The latest list of winners of the Standard Bank Young Artist Awards for 2019 proves that the creative fire that fuelled their predecessors in the 1980s burns just as fiercely in the current generation of South African arts pioneers.
The National Arts Festival announced the recipients of the 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist (SBYA) Awards as Mandla Mlangeni (Jazz), Kitty Phetla (Dance), Megan-Geoffrey Prins (Music), Amy Jephta (Theatre) and Gabrielle Goliath (Visual Art).
Mandla Mlangeni is a jazz trumpeter and composer who has become a popular fixture on local and international stages since being selected for the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Band in 2006. A gifted bandleader, Mlangeni has carved out a name for himself with various bands and ensembles, including the Amandla Freedom Ensemble, with which he has released two albums.
Kitty Phetla is a senior soloist and choreographer at Joburg Ballet. She has toured and performed extensively on stages across the globe. A career highlight was dancing The Dying Swan solo for Nelson Mandela and the Dutch royal family, but one of her most noteworthy recent performances was her Queen Modjadji-inspired Rain Dance for Cape Town, in situ at the then-parched Theewaterskloof Dam.
Megan-Geoffrey Prins is a pianist whose prodigious talent was evident early on – he had performed with all of South Africa’s major orchestras by the age of 14. Today, while studying for his doctorate in music in Cleveland, he traverses the world as a solo performer and chamber musician, often returning home for concerts, teaching engagements and community outreach initiatives
Amy Jephta is a playwright who has also built a reputation as a filmmaker, activist and academic. A champion of theatre by and for women, she has been a driving force in local and global initiatives promoting opportunities for women playwrights. Aside from her theatre work, she wrote the script for the film Ellen – The Ellen Pakkies Story and is editing a collection of plays by African women.
Gabrielle Goliath is a multidisciplinary artist who is known for sensitively negotiating complex social concerns in her work, particularly relating to gender-based and sexual violence. Among this PhD candidate’s long-term performance projects is her Elegy series, where each iteration marks the absence of a woman or LGBTQI+ individual who has been raped and killed in South Africa.
The 2019 Standard Bank Young Artist Awards marks 35 years of Standard Bank’s sponsorship and of its partnership with the National Arts Festival, representing a winning team that shares a strong commitment to enriching the country’s arts landscape by giving a platform to successive generations of diverse, exciting and progressive creative voices. In 2010, Standard Bank and the National Arts Festival were honoured with a Business and Arts South Africa (BASA) Award in the Sustainable Partnership category.
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