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News from the Members

South Africa - an open letter
We are delighted to have received an open letter from Jilly Cohen, Events Organiser of the Wagner Society of South Africa.
Dear Readers
Andrea has asked if I would write a line or two to give you the up-beat (as opposed to the low-down, since we are always up-beat in the Cape!) on The Richard Wagner Society of South Africa – RWSSA is less cumbersome.  As there is such joyful news from the tip of Africa I am only too happy to do so.
The global opera spotlight has been very much on South Africa following the recent success of five of our young singers who made it to Amsterdam for the Belvedere Competition final rounds, out of more than 1320 singers who auditioned world-wide.  Four of ours reached the grand final and as you know, Levy Sekgapane – tenor, sang from his heart to win the coveted 1st Prize, following on from the success of the 2014 2nd Prize won by Siyabulela Ntlale –baritone.  The formidable track record since 2009 when Pretty Yende scooped all the first’s and shot to international status has produced other winners too.   RWSSA is proud to have sponsored several of these singers and this year we were able to join in a  partnership with two other small music entities in order that funding might, where possible, be shared.
On 19 July I had the absolute delight of watching the Operalia competition live on stage at Covent Garden – wasn’t that something to see and I know all you Wagnerians must have had mouths open in awe at the incredible performance from Lise Davidsen.  But yet again, my heart and I confess my box of tissues, went out to our own Noluvuyiso (Vuvu) Mpofu as her golden tones and charismatic presence brought her a well deserved 3rd Prize.
I wonder if the magnitude of these achievements is fully understood overseas.  The vast majority of our students at University of Cape Town (UCT) Opera School are black; they come from extremely poor backgrounds where the value of good education is appreciated, yet mostly unaffordable.  Many of the youngsters sing in choirs and if there is an opportunity some manage to get into The University of Cape Town .  Up to that point there has been no European cultural impact from the syllabus and they probably would not have heard any German, Italian or French in their lives. What they do have are god-given voices and for the most part the sheer guts, determination and brilliant teachers to get them through.
RWSSA hosts regular Hauskonzerte during our Summer season – October to April – and we have an impressive line-up for 2015/16.  Pianists  Vitaly Pisarenko,  past winner of the International Franz Lizst Prize and concert pianist Prof. Ingo Dannhorn are both visiting Cape Town and will give recitals for the society on 25 October and 21 February respectively.  We are continuing the season with a trio of recitals dedicated to Beethoven variations – these will take place in March/April 2016.  We would really love members of other Wagner societies to come and enjoy these soirees with us – the venue is always at our President, Herbert Glockner’s home overlooking the sea and the evenings provide a convivial atmosphere – and copious amounts of good Cape wine! (note from Andrea – I can vouch for this – I have been there!)
We have on occasion partnered with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra for a gala performance where the focus is on operatic voices and we hope to be able to do so again and repeat the success of our last one in collaboration with the Verdi Society when we celebrated the Wagner/Verdi anniversaries in November 2013.   We also have in the pipeline to focus on recitals with winners of the various opera competitions.
I look forward to meeting some of you soon –  and why not plan an out of season trip for end June/beg July 2016 when for the first time the Belvedere Competition will be held out of Europe – in our own beautiful City!
Best wishes from the Board