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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

BRONWEN FORBAY WINS! (article first published : 2005-04-24)

Last night, former Durban singer Bronwen Forbay scooped the opera first prize in the First Unisa Southern Africa Voice Competition sponsored by Vodacom. The prize, which is worth R30,000, automatically admits her to the 5th Unisa International Voice Competition 2006.

In a glittering Final Round Programme held at Unisa’s ZK Matthews Great Hall in Pretoria, the who’s who of the music world gathered to watch three exceptional sopranos – Erica Eloff, Zanne Stapelberg and Bronwen herself – presented their skills to great audience acclaim after a grueling three rounds held earlier in the week

I was able to chat to Bronwen afterwards and she’s still the same charming, bubbly self that Durban audiences grew to love during her formative years. The voice we heard improve and blossom in so many productions ranging from supper theatre to appearances with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, is sounding magnificent.

After she left Durban on a Fulbright Scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music (MSM) in New York City, from which she received a Master of Music degree in 2002, Bronwen went on to graduate from the Southern Methodist University (SMU) in Dallas, Texas, Artist Certificate Program where she was a Schollmaier Foundation Award recipient. She is now a first-year Doctor of Musical Arts (Voice Performance) candidate at the University of Cincinnati, College Conservatory of Music.

“So, one day, I’ll be Dr Forbay!” she says with gleeful delight.

She proudly claims that she has now become a coloratura soprano and this was indeed proved earlier in the evening when she simply breezed through a stupendous Queen of the Night (Der Hölle Rache kocht in meinem Herzen” from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte).

The other items she chose were Gounod’s “Je veux vivre dans le rêve” from Roméo et Juliette and “Mein Herr Marquis, ein Mann wie Sie” from Die Fledermaus. In Violetta’s "È strano – Ah, fors’ è lui – Sempre libera” from La Traviata, she gave a dramatic and emotional rendering, clearly defining the various moods with passion and sincerity.

Looking stunning in a scarlet strapless beaded evening gown cross-laced at the back with a full skirt and long train, she was clearly the audience's - as well as the judges’ - favourite.

The other winners were Erica Eloff who won both the first concert prize as well as the second solo prize and Zanne Stapelberg.

Further information to follow shortly in a more detailed release as well as a report on the Vocal Ensemble section of the First Unisa SA Competition also sponsored by Vodacom. – Caroline Smart




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