by Anthony R. Green
Last week, Castle of our Skins had the honor of hosting the lovely South African composer Dr. Bongani Ndodana-Breen. For this residency at the Longy School of Music of Bard College, Dr. Ndodana-Breen oversaw rehearsals, gave masterclasses, a lecture for the composers, an informal talk for students of the Longy Black Student Union and for students at Project STEP, and was featured in a portrait concert. The portrait concert featured 6 pieces: Two Nguni Dances for piano trio, Intlanzi Yase Mzantsi for piano quintet (world premiere), Apologia at Umzimvubu for string quartet, Khanyisa - an elegy for violin and piano, Impepho for string quartet, and Safika: Three Tales of African Migration for piano quintet.
Dr. Bongani Ndodana-Breen answers a question
from Ashleigh Gordon at a Longy BSU event
After so long without live chamber music, this concert packed power, a breadth of emotions, and - to paraphrase Dr. Ndodana-Breen - a free trip to Africa through music! Each piece reflected some or multiple aspects of African music practice and praxis, from complex interlocking rhythms and vibrant call-and-response, to a fluidity and omnipresence of structure and a sense of timed timelessness. My personal favorites were the lushness of the Khanyisa and the visceral power of Safika. That said, each work contains worlds of color, texture, and vibrancy that everyone should explore! The performance of each piece was expertly handled by COOS musicians: Gabriella Díaz and Mina Lavcheva (violin), Ashleigh Gordon (viola), Francesa McNeeley (cello), and Sarah Bob (piano). For these talented musicians to figure out such complicated rhythms and perform without a conductor, still maintaining a high sense of musicality and ensemble - this was a feat truly to be witnessed.
Missed the concert and want to witness it? No fear! You can still catch the concert's livestream by CLICKING HERE! Enjoy!!!
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