Cape Town Opera congratulates two extraordinary women!

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We begin in a celebratory mood by congratulating two of Cape Town Opera’s own on their well-deserved achievements: CTO champion and key supporter Wendy Ackerman and CTO Young Artist Siphokazi Molteno.
Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award : Wendy Ackerman
Cape Town businesswoman Wendy Ackerman has received the Forbes Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2021 Forbes Best of Africa Awards, a most fitting accolade and recognition of her role as one of South Africa’s most prominent businesswomen.

Mrs Ackerman leads the way with her initiatives that enable and support women in business and her visionary and generous support for the performing arts.

Mrs Ackerman is a patron and key supporter of Cape Town Opera, and we are thankful and honoured to enjoy this long-standing relationship with her.
Metropolitan Opera 2021-2022 Lindemann Young Artist : 
Siphokazi Molteno George
With immense pride, we announce that Siphokazi Molteno George is on her way to the Metropolitan Opera in New York! The Cape Town Opera Young Artist is the current Fleur du Cap Best Performance in an Opera – Femaleaward holder. She will be joining the Metropolitan Opera’s 2021-2022 Lindemann Young Artist Development Program.

Catch a glimpse of her amazing talent in the virtual concert that formed part of her live-streamed CTO Women’s Month interview here.

The Metropolitan Opera is very lucky to have Siphokazi, and we wish her all the best on this exciting adventure!
Two extraordinary women Keeping the Nation Singing!
Overberg Choral Training: Madré Loubser andNonhlanhla Mtirara 
 Opera is not just about staging magnificent performances of classical masterpieces; it has the equally noble function of bringing an awareness of the beauty of song to as wide a spectrum of society as possible, coincidentally enriching community spirit.
 With the latter ethos in view, Cape Town Opera was delighted to partner with the Western Cape’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Sport (DCAS) in its initiative to develop not only choral music but also community arts development in general throughout the province. The joy of collective singing has been promoted annually in the Western Cape since 2016 thanks to this project, with the programme further enhanced through participation from the Western Cape Choral Music Association (WECCMA) and several district choral stakeholders. As William Masemola, Arts Manager of the DCAS, explains, “The purpose of the project is to equip choral practitioners in various aspects of singing such as music literacy, conducting and voice training. In order to ensure sustainability, the programme also covers topics of arts management (choir leadership, NPO registration, marketing and fundraising)”. Over the last five years, districts that have benefitted from this initiative include the Cape Winelands, the Karoo, the West Coast and the Garden Route. Originally scheduled for 2020, this visit to the Overberg was postponed to 2021 due to COVID-19.

Now, as the Western Cape hovers around the peak of this pandemic’s third wave, the challenge of continuing the training programme has intensified. However, Madré Loubser, CTO’s committed young coordinator of this project, confirms that it will go ahead as planned, with all the necessary precautions taken to ensure the health and safety of participants as well as subsequent audiences.

“With a hands-on team, Covid-19 officers to ensure compliance with protocol, along with well-ventilated venues, risk will be minimised as far as possible to those involved. It is not comfortable singing through a mask, but it has to be done.” She explains that the CTO team visits four municipalities in the Overberg, from each of which 50 singers may be recruited, making a total of 200 performers in the festival. 

“We start by meeting each municipality and various stakeholders, who help spread the word in their communities, then we receive the names of individuals as well as choirs willing to enter. It’s very inclusive, open to young and old – we have responses from singers aged 10 to 60 years. We prescribe a few songs which we teach them to deliver, then each can contribute one or two works of their choice. That varies considerably from district to district given their cultural diversity.” A treat for audiences attending the festival in which this training culminates is a performance from the full Cape Town Opera Chorus (“Covid-19 permitting,” cautions Loubser).

Training lasts over a period of three months with CTO’s seven-strong team honing singers’ skills each weekend in 3-hour sessions. After the basic preparation and warm-up, the music-making can begin. Loubser says that the willingness of volunteers to learn is heart-warming. “What’s especially rewarding is their surprise and pleasure at finding how much they are able to achieve; it gives them new confidence.

As important as this revelation is the additional discovery of potential employment in the field of opera: “Not everyone aspires to be a singer, and beyond the glamour of performing, youngsters can see what else is involved in producing opera, such as setting up a stageinstalling a sound system and lights, stage management …”

Paradoxically, it seems that Covid-19 has proved in one way to be a blessing rather than a curse. Loubser remarks that “After being isolated and having to practise social distancing for so long, people find it wonderful to unite in singing, happy to come together in a safe environment. They are motivated to find company through participating in this project, and I noticed that at last weekend’s training session, everyone wanted to go the extra mile, the energy and commitment have never been better.”

Clearly, the love of beautiful music and a communal spirit can overcome most evils, including a pandemic. Western Cape Minister of Cultural Affairs and Sport, Anroux Marais said, “As we now contain, adapt and recover in the Western Cape, the Overberg Choral Music Development Project serves to develop not only choral music but community arts in the district as well.”
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