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BONGANI NDODANA (article first published : 2006-02-7)

The South African-born classical musical sensation, composer and conductor Bongani Ndodana, has been hailed by the New York Times in their January 23, 2006 edition as “a talent and, at 31, possesses a clear and gentle voice of his own”.

Ndodana had the rare honour of being the profiled composer at New York City’s Miller Theatre in a program encompassing his musical output since 2000. This rare honoUr has been accorded to composers such as Americans John Adams, Steve Reich, Augusta Read Thomas and the electrifying young British composer Thomas Ades.

In the New York Times Bernard Holland writes “Nine local musicians played seven pieces by Mr. Ndodana ... [who] conducted intermittently and also added a sociological or historical word or two explaining the origins of titles like Hintsa's Dances, Rainmaking and [Mthimkhulu] Sons of the Great Tree”.

Holland adds: “Actually, Mr. Ndodana’s delicately made music ... has a lot to teach the Western wizards of metric modulation and layered rhythms about grace and balance. He reminds us that most of our notions about musical motion in the last century came in their roundabout way from Africa or Southeast Asia in the first place, and that Africans tend to do it better than we do. Mr. Ndodana has obviously had a lot of Western training as well. The light touch of his string quartet writing in Miniatures on Motherhood showed a man intimate with the possibilities and limitations of European instruments.”

Ndodana was born in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, schooled at St Andrews Prep and College and attended Rhodes University in Grahamstown. He lived in Cape Town until 1996 where he worked as a musician and broadcaster. His music has been performed by the Belgian National Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Natal Philharmonic and many others.

He was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music in 1998. According to Canada’s Globe and Mail “He seems to be just as interested in giving pleasure as in opening people’s minds… which makes him doubly a novelty on the Toronto New Music scene.” (Globe and Mail, Nov 2001).Ndodana lives in Toronto where he heads the arts organization Ensemble Noir/Musicanoir.

More information from Glen Gamble at Ensemble Noir Incorporated, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on e-mail: glen@ensemblenoir.org or phone +1 (416) 960 5279 (office) or +1 (416) 6694536 (mobile).




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