Gifted Bongani Ndodana

Author: Phathu Ratshilumela
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Truly gifted is a term you could use to describe Bongani Ndodana who at the very young age was already making his mark in the music industry. But Ndodana’s musical creativity is so unique that his name might not sound that familiar to many. Over the years, the talented individual has established himself as a prolific composer and sough-after conductor.

Those who have had a taste of experiencing Ndodana’s compositions will hear that they are influenced by the lyricism and rhythms of Africa, blended with an eclectic, post-modern approach to contemporary music.

Since his humble introduction to the music scene, he has composed many musical works, from symphonic work, opera, oratorio, choral, chamber and vocal music.

Ndodana who studied music at Rhodes University and composition with Roelof Temmingh at the Conservatory in Stellenbosch, has had the pleasure of seeing his music performed by the Belgian National Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Natal Philharmonic, New York City’s Vox Vocal Ensemble, Cape Town City Ballet, Ensemble Noir, Ensemble Cosi Facciamo Munich, Chicago’s Cube Ensemble, Ossia Ensemble and the choir of Wadham College Oxford University.

Some of his works include directing the Toronto classical music group called Ensemble Noir. The group has extensively toured throughout Africa – including visiting Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa in 2003.

Many people have described Ndodana as “One of the leading young musicians of his generation to have emerged out of South Africa”. What makes his musical touch stand out is the rare skill of being able to draw sounds from his childhood, reinterpreting and giving them a new leap.

Before heading for stardom, Ndodana was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music in 1998 which later earned him the role of conducting the world premiere of his opera-oratorio Uhambo-The Pilgrimage with the Cape Town Opera orchestra at the Standard Bank National Arts Festival in Grahamstown, South Africa in July 1998.

Over the years, the gifted composer has collaborated with various choreographers including Lindi Raizenburg of the Cape Town City Ballet in Episodes (Baxter Theatre, Cape Town, June 1997), New York's Germaul Barnes on My Granddaddy, (Phoenix Arizona, April 1999) and with Ronald Taylor on MASS which premiered to rave reviews at the du Maurier Theatre in Toronto, October 1998. uNandi KaZulu.

To add to that he has received commissions from the South African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) for Pas de Deux Sauvage a two-piano work written for Jill Richards and Michael Blake for a tour of Europe in the fall of 1999, and also for a piano suite entitled Lives in Letter Beads written for the So.

Clearly, Ndodana is one highly talented individual whose talent has attracted the world’s attention. Coming from South Africa, it is very humbling and inspiring to note that there are people like him who are putting this country in a better world musical space. We salute such talent and hope that he is a big mirror that the growing minds can be able to reflect on. Go out there and make this country proud because there is nothing stopping you!

 
 
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