Mixing It Up With Thokozani Mhlambi

One of KwaZulu-Natal’s finest musical talents, Thokozani Mhlambi, is set to perform a once-off concert in Cape Town this month.

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Zulu Song Cycle, which is a compilation of songs in keeping with spirit of the region, will take place at The Baxter Theatre Centre on 26 May. Be sure to tune in tonight at 5:30pm for our interview.

Mhlambi explains that The Song Cycle is a format widely associated with the German Lieder form that was pioneered by composers such as Schubert, Weber and Beethoven. “Unlike the large-scale works typified in forms such as Opera, the Song Cycle is an intimate one driven a lot by the lyricism of the words sung. Given the fact that Zulu is a tonal language, it makes it a language very suitable for this kind of form, along with its nuanced gesture,” he says.

It seems befitting for Mhlambi to host this showcase during Africa Month. He says that some of the pieces contained in Song Cycle are a reflection of key historical moments. “Capetonians can expect to experience a tribute to Ntsikana, the great Xhosa poet who lived in the 18th century. Legend has it Ntsikana began to preach a message of Christian conversion to his people before European missions arrived. One of his instructions was that the people must throw away the red clay, the red clay (udaka olubovu) being the paste that people used to smear on their faces, which was considered to be the practice of the ‘uncivilized’ (amaqaba) once missionaries had arrived. Here the cello imitates the sound of ugubhu musical bow that Princess Magogo would play, while the voice soars above it in a kind of dramatic musical dialogue.”

Mhlambi adds: “The concert will also include renditions of solo cello pieces of JS Bach and healing songs of Medieval composer Hildegard von Bingen, who was considered to be a heretic nun during her time.”Zulu Song Cycle, which is a compilation of songs in keeping with spirit of the region, will take place at The Baxter Theatre Centre on 26 May.

Mhlambi explains that The Song Cycle is a format widely associated with the German Lieder form that was pioneered by composers such as Schubert, Weber and Beethoven. “Unlike the large-scale works typified in forms such as Opera, the Song Cycle is an intimate one driven a lot by the lyricism of the words sung. Given the fact that Zulu is a tonal language, it makes it a language very suitable for this kind of form, along with its nuanced gesture,” he says.

It seems befitting for Mhlambi to host this showcase during Africa Month. He says that some of the pieces contained in Song Cycle are a reflection of key historical moments.

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