Composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen appointed fellow at Yale

Composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen has been appointed to fellowship at Yale University.
Composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen has been appointed to fellowship at Yale University.
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Acclaimed SA music composer and academic Bongani Ndodana-Breen has been appointed a fellow at Yale University’s Institute of Sacred Music.

The prestigious US university appointed Ndodana-Breen, who graduated with a PhD in music composition from Rhodes University and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University in 2019/2020, for the 2021/2022 academic year.

The composer’s works have been performed around the world to much acclaim.

Ndodana-Breen has “written music spanning vocal, symphonic, and chamber music”. His opera Winnie, based on the life of Winnie Mandela, was a success at its premiere in Pretoria. It is the subject of a chapter in Naomi André’s book Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement.

Ndodana-Breen also composed Harmonia Ubuntu, based on the speeches of Nelson Mandela, for the historic tour of the Grammy-award winning Minnesota Orchestra to SA in 2018.

The university announced Ndodana-Breen’s appointment on Thursday.

“At Yale, Ndodana-Breen will create a major new work, ‘African Passion’, based largely on gospel texts, drawing from the many languages of Africa and the diaspora, and evoking a pan-African sonic perspective,” the institution said in a statement.

Ndodana-Breen said he was excited by the appointment.

“I am deeply honoured and equally excited to be part of this extraordinary community of scholars and artists,” said Ndodana-Breen.

“Yale is an amazing institution, everyone has been so welcoming and incredibly helpful. From my time as a Radcliffe Fellow at Harvard, I know how competitive these fellowships are so I’m truly overjoyed as a SA composer that my project was selected.”

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