Composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen has written a wide range of music encompassing symphonic work, opera, chamber music and vocal music. He is the 2013 Composer-in-Residence for the 5thJohannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF), opening on 27 January 2013, with the theme If you would Dance?
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.”
The work that he is bringing to JIMF will be a piano concerto called Mzilikazi, based on a theme from Prof. Mzilikazi Khumalo’s Bawo Thixo Somandla, an anthem he wrote 40 years ago at the height of the difficulties of South Africa’s struggle for liberation. “The piano concerto to me shows us how far we have come as a country, how we were resilient during the darkest of times, the hardships we endured as a people. This gives hope for our future, we can overcome anything acting together as a people,” said Ndodana-Breen.
Performers around the world have performed his music, including the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Belgian National Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Vancouver Opera Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic, New York City’s Vox Vocal Ensemble, MusicaNoir, Chicago’s Cube Ensemble and Ossia.
Ndodana-Breen has received commissions from Wigmore Hall, Vancouver Recital Society, Madam Walker Theatre Indianapolis, SAMRO, UNISA, Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, the Emancipation Festival of Trinidad & Tobago, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Luminato Festival of Toronto, the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt for the Haydn 200th anniversary, and now also the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival.
He is the composer of Winnie, The Opera, based on the life of Winnie Mandela, which premiered to great acclaim in April 2011 at the State Theatre in Pretoria. Other operas include the children’s chamber opera Themba & Seliba, the chamber monodrama Umuntu–Threnody (commissioned by the National Arts Council) and the short opera Hani (commissioned by UCT & Cape Town Opera) which premiered at the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town in 2010. His current projects include an oratorio Credo based on South Africa’s historic Freedom Charter with novelist Brent Meersman.
Ndodana-Breen was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music in 1998 and was selected as one of the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans of 2011. He is currently the Creative Director of Pina Ya Thari (Pty) Ltd, a production company he co-founded in 2011. He was director of the Canadian new music organization Ensemble Noir from 1999 – 2007, touring Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.
The rest of the JIMF programme will again include various symphony concerts and recitals. The final programme is available on www.join-mozart-festival.org.
Tickets for the 5th Johannesburg International Mozart Festival (JIMF) will be available from Computicket for concerts at the Linder Auditorium. Tickets for concerts at Northwards House, Villa Arcadia, St. Columba’s Church, and the Wits Art Museum can be booked by phoning the JIMF Office on (011) 447 9264; and for concerts at The Fringe at the Joburg Theatre, (011) 877 6832. For any further enquiries please contact (011) 447 9264 or visit www.join-mozart-festival.org. Join the Johannesburg International Mozart Festival page on Facebook for regular updates on Festival happenings and competitions.
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Bongani Ndodana-Breen JIMF 2013 Composer-in-Residence