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Winner of First Prize at the 2010 Kathleen Ferrier Competition, Njabubo Madlala was born in South Africa. From the dusty streets of the Inanda Township right outside Durban he travelled to London for studies at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Njabulo gained his Bachelors of Music (Hons) and Masters Degree Post-graduate opera course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London under Mr. Robert Dean.
At the Cardiff International Academy of Voice he studied with the international tenor Dennis O’neill. He has been supported by The Oppeheimer Memorial Trust, The South African National Arts Council, the Sir Peter Moores Foundation, the Countess of Munster Trust and the Music Benevolent Fund. Njabulo Madlala is a Britten Pears Young Artist, a Samling Foundation Scholar and a prize-winner of the Young Kathleen Ferrier Bursary and The Kenneth Loveland Gift Prize.
That moment of rapt silence and attention, when an audience is entirely transfixed by a musician’s artistry, is rare at the best of times — let alone in the middle of a competition. But it happened in the finals of this year’s Kathleen Ferrier Awards, when the South African baritone, Njabulo Madlala, riveted every listener in the hall with his musical storytelling in Schumann’s dramatic ballad, Belsazar.
The 28-year-old’s imagination created a gripping and growing sense of menace; and when he cried “Ich bin der König von Babylon”, the walls of the Wigmore Hall shook with terror. He would have taken first prize for this alone. But there was more. Madlala was equally at home in Butterworth’s Bredon Hill and in an aria from Bellini’s I Puritani that revealed the rich velvet plush of his fearless voice, its inner warmth and its flexibility.
South African baritone Njabulo Madlala comes from the Inanda township outside Durban , where he always dreamt that his voice would be “my passport to the world”. But, as he said in a recent BBC interview ‘Winning the 2010 Kathleen Ferrier Award is the most exciting thing that could ever have happened in my life. Coming from South Africa to the UK to study, I never dreamed of this happening!’