Born in Johannesburg, bass-baritone Simon Shibambu He completed his Diploma and Degree in Vocal arts at Tshwane University of Technology under Hans Van Heerden, before moving to London to study for a Masters in Vocal Performance at the Royal College of Music where he studies with Professor Graeme Broadbent. Supported by an ABRSM scholarship. Simon won several singing competitions and He sang in numerous Opera Productions and concerts. He sang before the First Lady of China on her visit to London and sang for Prince Charles when he visited RCM. Led him to sing to Her Majesty the Queen to whom he was introduced at the Westminster Abbey on the Commonwealth day service and the Queen’s 90th birthday celebration. He is in the Young Singers Project for the Salzburg Festival 2016 in Austria and will be featured in the two Opera productions of Manon Lescaut by Giacomo Puccini and Thaïs by Jules Massenet and he will be involved also in the Concerts and master classes as well. Simon is starting with the Jette Parker Young Artist Program at the Royal Opera House in September for two years.
I first started singing, when I was very young, in a local Boys Choir. My ‘journey’ from that point onward was not easy because, initially, I received no family support whatsoever – not even when I decided, after taking my Matric, to carry on with my singing and deciding to study Opera. Only when my Mother eventually realized that singing really was, and remains, my passion did she decides to become involved. I so needed her support at that very point when I was about to finish my Degree course and was not at all sure what to do next, but I took a chance and applied for a scholarship at the Royal College of Music. Of course, I had to be interviewed by the RCM but a great deal of money was needed for the flight to London and for accommodation once I had arrived there. My Mother simply did not have the necessary amount of money available but she took a risk. She took out a loan (from her work place), which made going to London possible and also enabled me to go to auditions. I want back home with great news: I WAS AWARDED A FULL SCHOLARSHIP FOR A TWO-YEAR MASTERS DEGREE. From that point onward, made much more self-confident by being given a Scholarship at the RCM, I started to win several competitions and was invited to sing before such people as the First Lady of China and Prince Charles when they were visiting. That, in turn, led to me to sing to Her Majesty the Queen – to whom I was introduced – and the Royal Family in Westminster Abbey on March 14th, just past. (That same evening I was singing the role of a King (!) in Handel’s ‘Ariodante’ at the RCM Opera House.) I have a most marvellous prospect before me. Once I have taken my Masters Degree at the RCM, I then start on the Jette Parker Young Artist Program for two years at the Royal Opera House. Before that, in July, I have been cast to sing with two great opera singers, Placido Domingo and Anna Netrebko at one of Europe’s great Opera Festivals, the one in Salzburg. I feel so immensely proud to be South African. Thus, the unaccompanied solo I chose to sing in the Abbey to the Queen (as part of her 90th Birthday and Commonwealth celebrations) was very much South African. I’d like to think that the story of my career so far will inspire other young South Africans who want to pursue a career in Opera or whatever other passion they may have in Music. I want to motivate them by showing that whether they come from a township like mine, Alexandra, or any other part of our Rainbow Nation, even against all the odds, you can succeed once you commit yourself. But, yes, help along the way means so very, very much.