In 2018, Dr Conroy Cupido was invited to serve as an adjudicator at the Voices of South Africa Singing Competition. This competition is the initiative of Mr Njabulo Madlala who runs the competition and has to date provided a platform for several talented South African opera singers who wish to further their careers locally and abroad. Mr Madlala has also been instrumental in connecting various stakeholders in opera in South Africa and in the UK.
Following the competition, Mr Dominic Wheeler (Head of Opera at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London), Mr Nico de Villiers (Vocal Coach) and Ms Samantha Malk (Deputy Head of Vocal Studies at Guildhall School) all visited the School of Music in Potchefstroom and presented master classes and worked with our voice students.
In June 2019, Dr Cupido was invited to the Guildhall School and has been continuously working on establishing a relationship between the two institutions. Dr Cupido says that,
One of the goals of the NWU singing department is to constantly provide opportunities for talented, hard working students who have the ability to pursue their careers internationally. Like we have done in the past, we also strive to expose our students to a wealth of knowledge gained from visiting opera practitioners and pedagogues.
We are therefore thrilled to announce that North-West University’s singing department and the vocal and opera departments of the Guildhall School have officially signed a Memorandum of Understanding that demonstrates their commitment to future collaboration. Besides the tireless work of Dr Cupido, and the indispensable input of colleagues mentioned above, this would not have been possible without the invaluable support of
- Ms Elaine Kidd and Mr David Gowland (Royal Opera House) who, through the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme, help fund the musicians from Guildhall School to South Africa;
- Mr Jonathan Vaughan, Vice-Principal and Director of Music at Guildhall School;
- Mr Armin Zanner, Head of Vocal Studies at Guildhall School;
- Dr Yvonne-Marié Brand, Director of the School of Music, NWU;
- Prof Pamela Maseko, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, NWU; and
- Prof Robert Balfour, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Teaching and Learning, NWU.
Prof Balfour attended an opera performance at the Guildhall School in London after meeting Mr Wheeler in Potchefstroom and recognized the significance and importance of a collaboration between the two institutions. The office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Teaching and Learning has been instrumental in materializing this MOU and has generously provided funding for future projects.