The best young artists in SA
Striking an indigenous chord
The coveted Standard Bank Young Artist Awards were bestowed in Sandton this week.
The honours went to: Chuma Sopotela for Performance Art; Guy Buttery for Music; Igshaan Adams for Visual Art; Jemma Kahn for Theatre; Musa Hlatshwayo for Dance; and Thandi Ntuli for Jazz. The six young artists form the 2018 contingent of winners, and will perform at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown next year.
The event was hosted by the ever so elegant Pabi Moloi. How this woman gracefully tackled the steps up and down the podium was truly a demonstration of poise and professionalism.
A few celebrities and former young artist award winners presented this year’s awards.
Standard Bank has been quite active in the arts. The Standard Bank Ovation Award, given to artists with winning performances at the National Arts Festival, was once again a hotly contested affair. This was no doubt due to the skill of those artists that performed at this year’s festival.
One of them is jazz singer Ntuli, who brought her whole family along to watch her accept the award for best contemporary music.
Her family couldn’t get enough of her on stage holding her certificate, and at one point Pabi jokingly reminded them: “Thandi’s family, you are going home with Thandi. There will be plenty of time for selfies.”
It was refreshing to be at an award show that wasn’t too long and tedious. The awards were dished out in just under 40 minutes, leaving all those in attendance to eat, drink and be merry.
The National Arts Festival established the Young Artist Awards in 1981 to acknowledge emerging young South African artists who demonstrate an outstanding artistic talent.
This year’s Young Artists are: cellist Abel Selaocoe for Music; Benjamin Jeptha for Jazz; Beth Diane Armstrong for Visual Art; Dineo Seshee Bopape for Performance Art; Monageng “Vice” Motshabi for Theatre; and Thandazile Radebe for Dance. The US embassy chose the sophisticated Orbit Jazz bistro in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, to announce the injection of about R1.2 million for the preservation initiative of indigenous southern African music, which is run by the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (Samro).
The parties signed the agreement and got rid of formalities in lightning speed to enable the guests, who were mostly musicians from all genres, to pop champagne with jammers, and entertain guests with jazz and fusion serenades. Award-winning pianist, composer and producer Bokani Dyer was also tapping his foot.
Samro Foundation managing director Andre le Roux said the event symbolised the cultural relations between South Africa and the US. The funds will assist Samro Music Archive’s I AM project to transcribe and document Southern African indigenous music.
He said South Africa had an identity and humanity crisis as there was no rainbow nation or Nelson Mandela to bind its people. But through music, art and culture South Africa could heal itself somehow.
Jessye Lapenn, US embassy chargé d’affaires, said preserving and sharing musical heritage through the partnership with Samro would help strengthen ties between South Africa and the US. The embassy was accessing resources from the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, which was established in 2001, for South African music and musicians to benefit.
It was not just musicians that graced the occasion. City Press also noted lecturer in music composition and theory at Wits University Andile Khumalo, who is a co-chair at Jiwa Music, a non-profit organisation dedicated to promoting and archiving African music.
He told City Press that the funding was awarded partly because of Jiwa Music’s contribution. “This is an important initiative that allows us to have literature documenting South African composers. We are going to document all African music irrespective of the genre, not only traditional music.”
JAMMIN’ Musical guests got their groove on at the event