The Foundation, which manages the music education and corporate social investment programmes of the Southern African Music Rights Organisation, has awarded these music study bursaries since 1981. Since then, it has channelled millions of rands into educating the musicians, singers, music teachers, composers and arts trailblazers of tomorrow.

This year was the first time the bursary application process was conducted exclusively online. A total of 218 applications were received for 2015 and after careful adjudication and assessment, 97 bursaries of R10 000 each were awarded to candidates studying in various music-related disciplines at 12 South African universities. 

The University of Cape Town (UCT) was the largest beneficiary, followed by the University of Pretoria (UP), the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and the University of Stellenbosch. Other universities whose students benefited from the 2015 music bursary awards were: Tshwane University of Technology, North West University, Rhodes University, the University of the Witwatersrand, Free State University, and the universities of Venda, Fort Hare and KwaZulu-Natal.

Music faculty members at the various institutions have written to the SAMRO Foundation, conveying the students’ joy at receiving this much-needed subsidy for their studies. 

UCT Executive Director, Dr Russell Ally, pointed out that while some students receive loans through the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, “it does not fully cover their cost of attendance. Lack of funds is a major, if not the most prevalent, barrier to education for students in South Africa.

“With each year the demand increases and it is thanks to contributions such as that from the SAMRO Foundation, that the university is able to fulfill its mandate to provide financial support to deserving individuals.”

Said Professor Wim Viljoen, head of UP’s music department: “I would like to sincerely thank SAMRO for the large number of bursaries that you have awarded to our music department students, and for the confidence that you have in us.”

Added Cameron Harris from the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits): “I’m delighted to see an increase in successful Wits students this year and once again would like to thank the Foundation for their support of music students at Wits and across the country. These bursaries are really quite unique in the South African musical landscape.”

Ruben Kasselman, a music composition student at UP, wrote to express his “sincere gratitude” for the SAMRO bursary: “It is both a great honour and a very welcome investment in my future. Thanks to you, my study fees have been covered for the remainder of this year.”

The majority of bursaries – 32 – were awarded to third- and fourth-years studying music performance in Western Art music, jazz and indigenous African music. Thirty grants went to second-year students enrolled in general music studies for the same three genres. 

The remainder of the bursaries went to budding music mavens studying music education, community music, composition (including Honours, Masters and PhD candidates), music technology and indigenous African music research.

For many of this year’s bursary recipients, this will mark the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship as part of SAMRO’s extended “family” of musicians. 

Some will go on to enter (and perhaps win) SAMRO’s annual Overseas Scholarships Competition; others may be commissioned to compose new, original works once they enter the professional realm. 

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