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SURENDRAN REDDY RECITAL (article first published : 2005-08-28)

Acclaimed South African-born pianist Surendran Reddy, now resident in Germany, will give a recital in Durban on August 29 at UKZN's Howard College Theatre from 12h15 to 13h00. Admission is free.

Expect some jazz standards and original material from this brilliant pianist who is currently back in South Africa as an adjudicator for the SAMRO Scholarship Competition.

Reddy has created a new kind of sound which he calls 'clazz' - a unique blend of classical and jazz piano: "Some years ago," he says, "I devised the term ‘clazz' to describe my particular brand of fusion music, where a strong foundation of classical and jazz influences are combined with various types of world music, such as South African Mbaqanga, Javanese gamelan and so forth.

"My deep interest in music and culture from all over the world,” he continues, “stems from my belief that despite cosmetic and superficial differences, a common humanity binds all of us who inhabit this planet regardless of how far from one another we might live, and that what we have in common is an important basis for communication. This should bind and not separate us and prevent us from seeing the other as an ‘alien' or as a potential enemy.

“I had the misfortune to be in South Africa during the apartheid years, which experience taught me how evil it is to divide people from one another merely on the basis of their skin-colour and erroneous concepts of race and racial supremacy. While I enjoyed an excellent classical music education in London at the Royal College of Music I ventured later into jazz, pop, rock and other musical styles without abandoning my classical roots, and attempted to share the fruits of this Catholic musical perspective with audiences. They were perhaps not ready for pioneering efforts in bridging the gap between jazz and classical, then, and seemed to me sometimes to advocate a kind of ‘apartheid in music'.

"We won the battle against apartheid in South Africa by standing up for our rights, and though the cost in terms of human sacrifice was vast and deeply tragic, it was the only way of ensuring a better, more sane society for future generations and most importantly for our children. In a way my life's work as a musician and composer has also been a kind of crusade against those who uphold apartheid in music.

"My ears are wide open to music from every corner of the planet and one can only learn and benefit from others and other cultures with whom we share this planet. Gone are the days when western classical music was seen as being superior to all other forms of music. The 20th century was the era of world music and we can only hope that in the 21st this interest in the music of other cultures continues to grow and develop. To paraphrase John Lennon who said ‘Make love, not war', I would like to say, ‘make music, not war'."




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