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Trio ready to tickle the ivories at esteemed music competition

by Gerrit Bester

Three gifted students who cut their musical teeth at TUT’s Department of Performing Arts understand that the world of jazz is an ever-evolving and captivating genre that demands exceptional talent, creativity and dedication. Their efforts in this regard have paid off, as they qualified for the highly esteemed 7th UNISA National Piano Competition (Jazz category) in July this year.

Under the expert guidance and tutelage of Dr Roland Moses, senior lecturer at the Department of Performing Arts, these young jazz musicians, Sivuyile Jengu (28), Lungile Luswazi (23) and alum Angelique Mulder (26) showcased their passion, skill and potential.

Dr Moses is also part of the Jazz jury of this year’s competition, while Dr Laetitia Orlandi, Assistant Dean, Faculty of Arts and Design, represents the Classical jury alongside four other judges, including triple Grammy-nominated South African pianist Petronel Malan. Drs Moses and Orlandi are both skilled musicians who frequently perform.

The UNISA National Piano Competition is renowned as one of the most prestigious platforms for aspiring jazz musicians in South Africa. It attracts talent from all over the country, providing an opportunity to showcase their musical abilities and compete on a national stage. The competition judges the participants based on their technical prowess, improvisational skills, musicality and overall performance.

The competition is accompanied by attractive prize money – first prize winners in both the Classical Piano and Jazz Piano categories will each bag R85 000, and the runners-up will each receive R55 000. They will automatically qualify to participate in the 15th UNISA International Piano Competition in 2024.

Dr Moses has been a guiding light for aspiring jazz students and musicians for many years. His expertise as an official accompanist and jury member in the UNISA National Piano Competition has been instrumental in shaping the musical journey of countless students. With a deep understanding of the genre and a passion for nurturing young talent, he has played a crucial role in preparing the TUT students for this incredible opportunity. He guided them through various aspects of jazz performance, including technical proficiency, ensemble playing, improvisation, stage presence and repertoire selection.

"The journey of the TUT students qualifying for the UNISA Piano Competition is a testament to the power of mentorship, dedication and the pursuit of musical excellence. As these young musicians prepare to take the stage, they not only represent TUT but also embody the spirit of South African jazz. With their talent and passion, they are poised to leave a lasting impression on the national jazz scene and inspire future generations of jazz musicians," Dr Moses says.

Previous TUT winners of the competition are:

6th UNISA Piano Competition, 2019 Ntando Ngcapu (2nd place) and Teboho Kobedi (semi-finalist)

6th UNISA International Voice Competition, 2018 Tshepo Tshabalala (2nd place)

Second UNISA National Voice Competition, 2017 Tshepo Tshabalala (1st place) Daniella Hart (2nd place)


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