Goodenough Member wins the Song Prize – BBC Cardiff Singer of the World

Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha, a 27-year-old soprano who has been living at Goodenough since August 2019, has been named the winner of the prestigious Song Prize in the 2021 BBC Cardiff Singer of the World contest.

Masabane comes from South Africa’s Limpopo province where she started singing at school and church. Following a Postgraduate Diploma from the University of Cape Town, and a BTech in Vocal Art (Performance) from Tshwane University of Technology, she performed as a Young Artist with Cape Town Opera for two years before coming to London to join the Royal Opera House’s Jette Parker Young Artists Programme in the 2019-20 season. 

During the internationally recognised Song Prize contest – chaired by Wigmore Hall artistic and executive director John Gilhooly, with soprano Roberta Alexander and bass-baritone Neal Davies – Masabane dazzled the judges with performances of Schubert’s famous Gretchen am Spinnrade; Tyamzashe’s Isithandwa Sam, a South African song performed in the Xhosa language; Liszt’s Die Lorelei and Betty Jackson King’s spiritual Ride Up in the Chariot.

Masabane takes great pleasure in performance, “I enjoy sharing my music and performing because when I sing I pray twice!” and in talking about her song choices said: “I wanted to show the audience that they can enjoy both worlds: spirituals, the more standard Lieder repertoire and also my traditional South African Lieder.”

The final was presented by Petroc Trelawny, who was joined by mezzo-soprano Sarah Connolly, who complimented the “sweetness and creaminess” of Masabane’s singing. “There was nothing harsh or worrisome about her voice.”

On leaving The Royal Opera House (and Goodenough College) Masabane will join the ensemble of Bern Staatsoper for a two-year period. However each of the five Song Prize finalists will perform at London’s Wigmore Hall in the coming years and, as part of her prize, Masabane will have the opportunity to perform at many venues in the UK and around the world.

Watch Masabane’s Singer of the World Song Prize performance on the BBC website – One hour 30 minutes in.