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Bongani Ndodana-Breen’s research and creative output as a composer engages with diversity and inclusion in classical music. His compositions draw heavily from African music techniques and aesthetics in a quest to broaden cultural dialogue in classical music beyond its historic Eurocentricity.
At Radcliffe, Ndodana-Breen is completing a book that challenges entrenched notions on the value of indigenous African culture in the discourse on South African classical music and its historic lack of representation of black composers. His research offers a rarely explored Afrocentric view on South African composition during apartheid to the dawn of democracy with a reflection on the impact of the current decolonization debate stemming from the #RhodesMustFall movement. Alongside the book, Ndodana-Breen will complete a new orchestral work exploring the indigenous African techniques and practices explored in his research, offering a creative context to some of the commentary by such scholars as V. Kofi Agawu, Akin Euba, J.H. Kwabena Nketia, and Martin Scherzinger.
Ndodana-Breen has a PhD in music composition from Rhodes University. He has received commissions from the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Haydn Festspiele Burgenland, Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, Luminato Festival, the Madam Walker Theatre Center, the Minnesota Orchestra, SAMRO, the University of South Africa, the Vancouver Recital Society, and Wigmore Hall. He is the composer of Winnie, an opera based on the life of Winnie Mandela. He was awarded a Standard Bank Young Artist Award and included in the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans list.