national Arts Festival Banner

Friday, April 22, 2011


The 2011 Standard Bank Young Artist Award winners will showcase their newest flagship work on the Main programme of the National Arts Festival, Grahamstown (June 30 to July 10).

"A highlight at the National Arts Festival is always the expectation that builds up as the Standard Bank Young Artist winners commence with the production and creation of their performances and exhibition that will premiere in Grahamstown,” said Ismail Mahomed, Director of the National Arts Festival. “During this past year, all five winners have been incredibly busy with various exciting projects around the country, across the continent and around the world. If this is a fore-taste of what this brand of young, dynamic artists have in store for the Festival then festival-goers can expect yet another year of exciting, innovative and cutting-edge work."

Mamela Nyamza, Standard Bank Young Artist winner for Dance, will once again be pushing boundaries and challenging stereotypes. She performed recently at the Dance Umbrella in a piece entitled Shift, as well as a piece entitled Kutheni, one of the finalists for the Sadler's Wells Global Dance Contest in 2009, for Gay Pride in Cape Town Stadium.

During April, Nyamza travelled to Ethiopia to finish a piece that she started in November 2010, and which will culminate at the National Arts Festival as a collaboration with Adudna Dance Company from Ethiopia and producer, Hannah Loewenthal. “With u-Thuthu and Amafongkong I am trying to go to places that are unknown to me,” said Nyamza. “I am so excited to be part of this year’s Main festival programme, and nervous at the same time,” she added.

Ben Schoeman, Standard Bank Young Artist winner for Music, recorded his first solo album in December 2010 under the South African independent classical music label, TwoPianists Records. This CD, with some of the epic piano works of Franz Liszt, will be released in April 2011, with sponsorship from Standard Bank.

“I am really honoured to be associated with Standard Bank and the National Arts Festival both through this recording as well as the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music,” said Schoeman. “The support and encouragement that I have received from this wonderful team of people is the greatest inspiration. This is definitely the most exciting moment of my career so far,” he added. Schoeman is touring South Africa this month (April) to release the album. He will be performing at the KKNK in Oudsthoorn, as well as in Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Pretoria and Bloemfontein. He will also appear at the Wigmore Hall in June, before travelling back to South Africa for the National Arts Festival and a national concert tour with flautist Dawid Venter in August.

"During my recital at the Festival, I shall be performing several works of the great Hungarian master Franz Liszt,” said Schoeman. “In a varied programme, I will pay tribute to the virtuosity and poetry of Liszt. I am also looking forward to my performance with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra,” he added.

Since returning from the Dundee: Living within History project Neil Coppen, Standard Bank Young Artist winner for Drama, is in the process of developing his piece Abnormal Loads for Grahamstown.

“It’s a really ambitious project which has existed in my head for the past five years,” said Coppen. “To complete it in time I’m going have to turn off my cellphone, place myself under house arrest and wrestle out my story onto the page,” he added. “I’m interested in exploring how entwined our histories are as South Africans, how we tend to inherit and lug about ancestral baggage from past generations without ever knowing it,” said Coppen about his preparations for the new work. “It will be a tragic-comedy of sorts and hopefully boast some innovative theatrical battle scenes,” he added taking time off from co-curating a collaborative event with his Kwa-Cinema partner Karen Logan.

Bokani Dyer, Standard Bank Young Artist winner for Jazz, will be doing four shows at the Festival. He is planning to launch a six-piece ensemble called Amaya featuring Marcus Wyatt (trumpet), Buddy Wells (saxophone), Ayanda Sikade (drums), Angelo Syster (guitar) and Shane Cooper (bass), playing compositions written by Dyer over the past year. He will perform with Soweto Kinch, an alto saxophonist from Birmingham, UK, as well as with Soweto Kinch and rapper Tumi. He will also be presenting a trio performance with Kesivan Naidoo (drums) and Hein van der Gein (bass).

Dyer has been busy with an album for his groove band Plan Be, a collaboration with vocalist/composer, Sakhile Moleshe. The album, entitled A soul-housing project, will be released in April. He has been involved in performances with various artists as well, including Jimmy Dludlu, Melanie Scholtz, Moreira Chonguica, Ivan Mazuze and others. “My big focus at the moment is working towards the recording with my new band Amaya in May which will be completed and released before the Festival,” said Dyer.

Nandipha Mntambo, Standard Bank Young Artist winner for Visual Art is in the process of conceptualising and completing a commissioned public sculpture for the Nedbank head offices in Sandton and another for the Gulbenkien Foundation in Portugal. “Grahamstown will see a shift within my art practice,” said Mntambo. “I have begun working in various media and this show is going to be a new and different departure for me as a visual artist.”

The Main Programme of the National Arts Festival has already been launched and Computicket bookings will open on May 3. More details about the Standard Bank Young Artists productions and exhibition will be in the Festival Booking Kit. Or click on the National Arts Festival banner advert at the head of this page which will take you directly to the Festival site.