Bongani Ndodana-Breen

The composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen has written a wide range of music encompassing symphonic work, opera, chamber music and vocal music. According to The New York Times his “delicately made music - airy, spacious, terribly complex but never convoluted - has a lot to teach the Western wizards of metric modulation and layered rhythms about grace and balance.” 

Performers around the world have performed his music including the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, Belgian National Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Vancouver Opera Orchestra, Symphony Nova Scotia, Kwa Zulu-Natal Philharmonic, Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, New York City’s Vox Vocal Ensemble, MusicaNoir, Chicago’s Cube Ensemble and Ossia.

Ndodana-Breen has received commissions from Wigmore Hall, Vancouver Recital Society, Madam Walker Theatre Indianapolis, SAMRO, UNISA, Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival, the Emancipation Festival of Trinidad & Tobago, Hong Kong Arts Festival, Luminato Festival of Toronto, the Haydn Festival Eisenstadt for the Haydn 200th anniversary and the 2013 Johannesburg International Mozart Festival.

He is the composer of Winnie, The Opera, based on the life of Mrs Winnie Mandela, which premiered to great acclaim in April 2011 at the State Theatre in Pretoria. On this opera Die Beeld wrote “Ndodana-Breen is a composer of stature. This is confirmed by the outstanding portraiture of Winnie.” Other operas include the children’s chamber opera Themba & Seliba, the chamber monodrama Umuntu –Threnody  (commissioned by the National Arts Council) and the short opera Hani (commissioned by UCT & Cape Town Opera) premiered at the Baxter Theatre, Cape Town in 2010.

Ndodana-Breen was awarded the Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music in 1998 and selected as one of the Mail & Guardian 200 Young South Africans of 2011.