After a successful showcase in Durban and Cape Town, accomplished South African composer and cellist Dr. Thokozani Mhlambi closes off his South Africa circuit of concerts in Johannesburg later this month.

The 35-year-old KwaZulu-Natal composer and cultural thinker will present his new material created in Paris as well as some of the favorites from his debut album in a must-see concert at The Linder Auditorium, in Parktown on Saturday 20 November.

“Jozi is an eclectic place, with fast movements. People literally come from everywhere. It is always exciting to perform for audiences like this, because even you, the performer, learn to expect anything,” says Mhlambi.

The concert celebrates the diversity of our cultural influences and African inspirations. It will open with a solemn dedication to early African composers (the likes of Enoch Sontonga, John Knox Bokwe, to mention a few), and then will be followed by further live acts. Culminating with a meditative set played by Mhlambi, which will reflect the influences he came across: there are traces of Arab influence from interacting with Oud players on the streets of Paris, some Kora-sounding reflections from links with immigrants, roaming musical griots, from Mali.

There will also be a moment for a Q&A discussion on the theme of early African composers, with esteemed music critic, Bongani Madondo for a short conversation.

“The show promises to be an explosive, musical experience. I will also be joined by Joao Orecchia, Jozi based sound artist and electronic composer. Gauteng audiences are in for a treat, and the show is suitable for the whole family, both young and old.”

For Mhlambi, performing in the pandemic has allowed him to adapt as a musician and artist.

“At moments it feels like the pandemic has brought out the worst of us or the best of us. One is forced to think on their feet and quickly adapt. So you will have a rehearsal arranged, weeks in-advanced, two days before the day the president of the country announces a level 5 lockdown; and then things have to either stop or go online. I am sure you can imagine how difficult it is to try and rehearse online,” he shares.

Firmly intact is a Zulu aura in the collection of works, arising out of Mhlambi’s firm cultural footing, as a KwaZulu-Natal-born artist. He says that Gauteng fans are “in for a treat”

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ABOUT DR. THOKOZANI MHLAMBI

  • Dr. Thokozani Mhlambi is not your usual musician. Not only does he play the cello, sing and compose his own songs, but Mhlambi uses his art and exhibitions in order to convey African stories/philosophies.
  • Born in Madadeni, KwaZulu-Natal, after fulfilling music studies in South Africa & Sweden, Mhlambi received his Phd in Music at the University of Cape Town. In South Africa, he has showcased work at leading platforms such as the National Arts Festival, Baxter Theatre, Soweto Theatre and the State Theatre in Pretoria—where he drew audiences from all walks of life. He has also been a visiting lecturer at universities in Finland (Jyvaskyla), Brazil, to mention a few. And has had opportunities to perform and speak in places such as New Orleans (Tulane), São Paulo, Maputo (Mozambique), New York and Vancouver (Canada).
  • Recently, Mhlambi’s rendition of Lizalise Idinga Lakho by Tiyo Soga (from his debut album Zulu Song Cycle), was featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Mhlambi was an invited contributor to the roaming academy of the Dutch Art Institute, an itinerant program fostering a variety of creative practices at the intersection of art & theory. In 2019, he collaborated with revered Chinese visual artist Dachan, in a live performance/installation at the Zeitz Mocca Museum in Cape Town.
  • In 2020, Mhlambi was selected as an Artist in-Residence at Cite International Des Arts in Paris, supported by the Institut Français. He used the time to connect with artists from different parts of the world, and more specifically the African continent, and to develop new creative work.
  • As a Fellow in Archive & Public Culture at the University of Cape Town (UCT), his research interest are in the archive of ‘early African Intellectuals as Composers’, which includes the likes of Enoch Sontonga, John & Nokutela Dube, Reuben Caluza, to mention a few.
  • He also has an interest in precolonial African artistic-crafts specialists and the implications thereof for regional mobilities. This as part of the Re-centring AfroAsia: Musical & Human Migrations project also at UCT.
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