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Changing lives, one note at a time

With an overflowing fountain of talent available in our country, selecting SAMRO bursary recipients is always a challenge but these rising stars have shown the dedication, thought and unwavering commitment needed to become legendary in the field of music.

SAMRO music foundation bursary
Emilio Lorenzo February

It was musician Billy Joel who once said music in itself is healing. It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music. The Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) has transformed countless lives through the gift of music in the form of bursaries to continue their studies. During 2019, the SAMRO Foundation awarded 101 bursaries, including five special bursaries to deserving full-time music students. Four students received RIESA bursaries valued at R20 000 each thanks to a generous bequest from the former Roodepoort International Eisteddfod of SA, while the R30 000 SAMRO Mzilikazi Khumalo Bursary was awarded to an outstanding master’s degree student specialising in Indigenous African Music.
     Well-known pianist and keyboard maestro Themba Mkize says the SAMRO Mzilikazi Khumalo bursary will go a long way in assisting him with his research into Indigenous African Music. Mkize is currently a master’s student at Wits University. ‘I’m a Durbanite who grew up in a township. My father was a teacher by profession and a choirmaster. He would send me and my siblings to my aunt for piano and voice lessons. Music has always been in my soul. I remember being knee-high and strumming on a homemade guitar, trying to make out sounds.’ Mkize says Indigenous African Music is a celebration of our country’s rich culture, language and heritage, but is largely overlooked.

SAMRO music foundation bursary
Nothando Maphumulo

     Another worthy bursary receiver is Nothando Maphumulo – a third-year student at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, specialising in African Music and Drama Performance. Born into a family of eight children, her financial resources were sadly slowing her progress. However, despite battling to pay her tuition fees, she continues to excel in her studies. Over the past two years, Maphumulo received two Dean’s Commendations and four merit certificates and volunteered to teach students in her class who were struggling with music theory. She performs regularly with her ensemble group Izimbewu Zekusasa.
     Anwyll de Leeuw is currently studying a BMus degree with a specialisation in Jazz Guitar and Composition at Wits University. He was awarded a RIESA bursary due to his exceptional work in the Indigenous African Music component of the course. Ironically, when he was younger, de Leeuw dreamt of playing professional cricket but went on to work in the corporate environment before he realised that his true calling was music. ‘I live in a previously disadvantaged community, and would like to build a music school in my area to teach music with the hope that the discipline that they will learn from music will spill over to other areas of their lives, including academia and career.’

SAMRO music foundation bursary
Shaw Komori

     Jazz trumpeter Shaw Komori, currently in his third year of studies towards a BMus degree at the University of Cape Town, has achieved a perfect academic record of first-class passes in both his first and second years. Komori gave an excellent performance as part of the Sekunjalo Edujazz band during the Cape Town International Jazz Festival, and has been selected for this year’s Artscape Youth Jazz Festival’s mentorship programme. ‘I come from a single-parent household. I have had to take out a student bank loan in order to pay the balance of fees for this year.’
     Another RIESA bursary recipient, Emilio Lorenzo February, is currently studying at the University of Stellenbosch and specialising in Composition while continuing his percussion studies. ‘Growing up in a household where there was constant singing was such a beautiful thing indeed,’ says February, who started percussion at the age of 8. Despite financial constraints and his mother as the only credible source of income, February has gone on to achieve remarkable things, including being selected as one of the soloists for Stellenbosch University’s Concerto Festival.

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