Premiere | artist talk after the performance on Nov 6, moderated by Jonathan Fischer
Neo Muyanga grew up in Soweto, which is presumably the most well-known township in South Africa. Afterwards he studied Italian madrigal vocals in Trieste. Since then he has been moving between both worlds – which to him do not seem to be incompatible at all – as a member of diverse bands, as an opera composer, as a curator of a lyric festival, and as a performer. In his world premiere of a performance developed for SPIELART, TSOHLE – A REVOLTING MASS, the piece also has to do with reciprocal influences and dependencies. »Tsohle« means »all things« in Sesotho, the language of the province Gauteng around Johannesburg. The sentence »tsohle di enstoe ke wena« (»all things are made by you«) is the beginning of a traditional church hymn. In a time of renewed protests, Neo Muyanga, together with a vocal quartet, examines songs from the 1970s and 1980s that were created in the camps of exiled revolutionaries. But as the ANC fighters had attended mission schools where lessons are taught with traditional Christian songs, ostentatious musical parallels developed, and the question is, how is it possible to develop one’s own language when you’ve been colonized? Moreover, what does it mean for a country when rulers, the opposition, and the »governed masses« sing the same songs?
Composition Neo MuyangaWith Neo Muyanga, Lungiswa Plaatjies, Phandulwazi Maseti and Theo Magongoma
Neo Muyanga, born in Soweto, studied in Trieste madrigal, the early Baroque vocal form. He was a co-founder of the pop duo BLK Sonshine in the mid-1990s, which became known far beyond the borders of South Africa. Neo composes music theater pieces and choir arrangements, and also a broad spectrum of works for chamber ensembles and large choirs. His operetta »The Flower of Shembe« had its world premiere in 2012. He continues touring internationally, solo as well as with different bands and ensembles. His music moves between the borders of what‘s written down and improvisation, and is a hybrid of traditional and electronic music and constantly in transformation. He is the co-founder of Pan African Space Station, a mixture of mobile radio station, research platform, and living archive.
Production and realization
Funded by the Fonds TURN of the German Federal Cultural Foundation and by Goethe-Institut.