African Composers in Conversation - Jegede & Ndodana-Breen

13 May 2017 - 10:00

The Institute for Creative Arts (ICA) and Africa Arts present a performance and conversation with composers Tunde Jegede (Nigeria) and Bongani Ndodana-Breen (South Africa). Both Jegede and Ndodana-Breen have received international acclaim for works ranging from opera, chamber and symphonic music that are influenced by classical African cultures.

Marking Africa Month the event takes place on Tuesday, 23 May at 6pm at UCT’S  Hiddingh Hall, 31 Orange Street, Gardens. This is a rare opportunity to hear master kora- player Jegede in performance, and to engage with both composers during a Q & A session. Entry is free and refreshments will be served from 5:30pm.

Jegede’s remarkable background as composer and multi-instrumentalist (cello, kora, piano and percussion) uniquely positions him between the worlds of contemporary classical, African and pop music. Growing up in North London, he was exposed at an early age to artists working in a multi-disciplinary mode including Bob Marley, Edward Braithwaite, and Linton Kwesi Johnson. His apprenticeship in African music began in 1978 and was further developed in 1982 when he studied the ancient Griot tradition of West Africa, with Amadu Bansang Jobarteh, Master of the Kora in Gambia. Influenced by his grandfather's love of Bach and by observing his work as a church organist, Jugede’s interest in Western classical music grew. In 1991 he pioneered African classical music in the UK with a national tour of the African Classical Music Ensemble. His commissions have included works for orchestras and ensembles including the Brodsky Quartet, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Mozart Players and the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.  Over the years, Jegede has kept his creative diversity intact by working closely with singers, vocalists, and spoken-word artists from a wide range of traditions, including opera, pop, R'n'B, reggae, hip hop, and jazz.

Composer, musician and cultural activist, Ndodana-Breen has written a wide range of music encompassing symphonic work and opera. According to the New York Times, his “delicately made music – airy, spacious, terribly complex but never convoluted – has a lot to teach the Western wizards of metric modulation and layered rhythms about grace and balance”. He has received commissions from amongst others, the Hong Kong Arts Festival, the Haydn Festival, Wigmore Hall and the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra for the world premiere of Three Orchestral Songs on Poems of Ingrid Jonker to mark the 50th anniversary of Jonker’s death.

Ndodana-Breen is the composer of Winnie – the Opera based on the life of Winnie Mandela, orchestral works such as his piano concerto Mzilikazi: Emhlabeni, a short opera Hani on the anti-apartheid activist Chris Hani and the oratorio Credo based on South Africa’s Freedom Charter. In 1988 he was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music and in 2011 was nominated by the Mail & Guardian as one of 200 young South Africans to watch.

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