Scintillating sounds

Edward Tsumele

Edward Tsumele

I have always been fascinated by traditional music and so have I been by classical music in the past 10 years or so.

And when the two are fused, one can only expect the best to come out of that experiment.

This experimentation will be on display at the forthcoming Ancestral Groove concert from May 20 at the Old Mutual Theatre on the Square at Nelson Mandela Square in Sandton.

This is a unique, groundbreaking production featuring the Mzantsi Traditional Orchestra with arrangements by Pops Mahomed, Anthony Caplan, Gobingca Mxadana, Ross Johnson and Neill Solomon.

The production is directed by Laurie Levine, singer-songwriter of note and author of the book Traditional Music of South Africa.

The Mzantsi Traditional Orchestra became South Africa's first traditional orchestra when it launched in 2003. With Ancestral Grooves, the Mzantsi Traditional Orchestra has set out to rediscover Africa's musical legacy and to explore the many possibilities of fusing ancient and contemporary music, becoming a forerunner of a new sound, both beautiful and uplifting.

Ancestral Grooves combines South Africa's near-extinct traditional instruments with an array of Western instruments, resulting in an exciting and cutting edge fusion of ancient and modern, organic and electronic, loud and soft music. From the ancient sounds of Bushman trance to the grand melodies of classical masterpieces; from the pulsating beats of Venda drums to the intricate rhythms of African and Western jazz standards, Ancestral Grooves presents a rich musical landscape with wide appeal. Uhadi bows, kudu horns, reed pipes, marimbas and mbiras interweave through house beats and the plucked notes of cellos and guitars.

The audience will not only be engaged in an aural experience, they will also be captivated by the visual vibrancy of the ensemble. The exciting repertoire showcases the extraordinary talent of 10 young musicians whose energy and passion on stage is contagious: Nkosinathi Makabeni on keyboard, Bigteddi, bass guitarist and vocal soloist and Juliet Qhobosheane, the marimba soloist being a few.

The performers have been guided by a creative collaboration between some of the country's leading composers, ethnomusicologists and musicians.