Twenty-seven year old soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha, from South Africa, was yesterday named the winner of the Song Prize at BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2021. The announcement was made during the broadcast of the competition’s Song Prize Final on BBC Two Wales, and BBC Radio 3 on Thursday evening [also on BBC Four at 9:45PM]
The event was presented by Petroc Trelawny with special guest mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly on TV, and Andrew McGregor and soprano Rebecca Evans on BBC Radio 3. It took place at St David’s Hall, in the Welsh capital, without an audience in attendance and in strict compliance with the latest health and safety government guidelines regarding COVID-19.
Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha started singing at school and church at an early age. She completed her Postgraduate Diploma at the University of Cape Town, studying with Virginia Davids, and took a BTech in Vocal Art (Performance) with Kiewiet Pali at Tshwane University of Technology. In London, she was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in the 2019/20 Season. Competition successes include the Audience Prize and two special prizes in the 2019 Hans Gabor Belvedere Competition; winner of the UNISA Competition; First Prize in the Phillip H Moore Music Competition, and First Prize and Best South African Song (final 2017, semi-final 2018) in the ATKV Singing Competition. In 2019, she sang soprano solo in Verdi‘s Requiem with Oude Libertas choir in Stellenbosch, and was nominated Best Singer in the opera category for Woordfees 2019. She was awarded Second Prize in Muzicanto in Cape Town, an award from the Schock Philips Foundation at UCT. In autumn 2021 she will join the ensemble of Bern Staatsoper for two years.
The Song Prize competition showcased the voices of 14 of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2021 contestants in performances of Lieder and art songs – partnered by internationally-renowned pianists Llŷr Williams and Simon Lepper – a more intimate repertoire than in the Main Prize, where they are accompanied by an orchestra. Following four rounds which took place at the Dora Stoutzker Hall of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the Song Prize Final featured performances by Malagasy baritone Michael Arivony; Austrian soprano Christina Gansch; Welsh soprano Sarah Gilford; and baritone Gihoon Kim from Republic of Korea.
Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha impressed the judging panel, chaired by Wigmore Hall’s Artistic and Executive Director John Gilhooly, along with celebrated classical singers US soprano Roberta Alexander and Welsh bass-baritone Neal Davies – himself the winner of the Song Prize in 1991- with performances of Schubert’s Gretchen am Spinnrade – D118; BPJ Tyamzashe’s song in the Xhosa language Isithandwa Sam; Lizst’s Die Lorelei – S273; and Betty Jackson King’s Ride up in the chariot.
John Gilhooly says: “We have been treated to some outstanding performances of song repertoire from all of the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Song Prize Finalists this evening. It’s inspiring to know that the future of this great art form is secured with so much talent clearly emerging. Sadly, there could only be one winner, and Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha performed with such assured technique and emotional power, that the jury was unanimous in naming her the winner. We look forward to hearing these wonderful singers again in the future, in concerts around the UK and beyond.”
BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2021 continues on Saturday 19 June, when the Main Prize Final is broadcast as live on BBC Four and BBC Radio 3 at 7:30PM. Competing for theultimate crown are the five finalists of the four Main Prize rounds as announced earlier in the week: mezzo-soprano Natalia Kutateladze from Georgia; baritone Gihoon Kim from Republic of Korea; soprano Christina Gansch from Austria; mezzo-soprano Claire Barnett-Jones from England; and Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha as the fifth “wildcard” finalist.
Introduced by Josie d’Arby and Petroc Trelawny, their performances will be accompanied by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales with conductors Michael Christie and Andrew Litton, and judged by a jury chaired by General Director of Welsh National Opera Aidan Lang, with Neal Davies and Roberta Alexander.
The Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize also makes a welcome return as part of BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2021, as audiences at home can support for their favourite competitor out of the 16 contestants – casting their vote here.
Voting is now open until Saturday 19 June at 10AM and the winner will be revealed as part of the broadcast of the Main Prize Final.
BBC Cardiff Singer of the World is organised by BBC Cymru Wales in association with Welsh National Opera and is supported by Cardiff Council.
The competition’s TV coverage is produced by BBC Studios Music and Entertainment Cardiff.