Hilton Schilder :: Cape Gypsy

“I’m totally into music as a composer. It’s my whole life. It’s my philosophy. It’s my religion. I started composing very young and the compositions have grown until now. Actually, it’s all just one long composition.”

It’s the opening sequence of the 2011 Cape Town music documentary Mama Goema. A camera glides through the streets of Bridgetown and comes to rest at the home of composer Mac McKenzie. Music score in hand, McKenzie hums the opening bars of an orchestral work he has just completed. Cut to Hilton Schilder playing a guitar at his home in Ottery. “We normally play a guitar like this,” he demonstrates with a flourish of notes. “But what’s wrong with doing it like this?” He flips the guitar on its back, hammers on the neck with his fingers and a whoosh of unfamiliar sound pours from the instrument. Continue reading

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Hilton Schilder :: Rebirth

Composer and multi-instrumentalist, Hilton Schilder was born into a musical family in Lotus River, Cape Town. He is the son of esteemed South African jazz pianist Tony Schilder (1937-2010) and nephew of Chris Schilder of Cape Town’s groundbreaking jazz-fusion group of the 1970s, Pacific Express. He was given his first instrument, a drum, at the age of three.

Hilton’s musical trajectory has taken him through a variety of groups and collaborations in the capacity of both a composer and a performer. He partnered with Mac McKenzie in the mid-80s to form the Genuines, a rock outfit that channeled the folk music of the Cape through punk. The band’s first two releases on the Shifty label tethered them to the broader Voëlvry movement and cemented their legacy in the history of South Africa’s alternate music scene.

Post-Genuines, Hilton immersed himself more deeply into jazz and was a member and contributing composer to Robbie Jansen’s Sons of Table Mountain. In the early 2000s, he performed with the Goema Captains of Cape Town and released his first solo album entitled No Turning Back on Mountain Records in 2003. He was the project leader of the South African/Swiss jazz ensemble Iconoclast in 2008.

In 2010, Hilton fought cancer, losing a kidney in the process. While in hospital, he heard what would become the composition “Rebirth” during a morphine-induced lucid dream. Waking up bedridden and without access to an instrument, he memorised what he could recall of the piece by imagining a piano keyboard on the ceiling.

“Rebirth” is a spiritual masterwork by a seasoned musician at the height of his powers – a sonic journey of sweeping light and shade that is both personal and universal in the depths it traverses. The piece is issued over two sides of a vinyl 7-inch single in a sleeve featuring Schilder’s distinctive ink drawings.

> Demo & Download via Sharp-Flat
> Vinyl Orders via Permanent Record
> Hilton Schilder’s Selected Discography

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Mac McKenzie Orchestra :: Live in Joburg

Mac Mckenzie is the Genuine musician. His vision is becoming a reality. In 2002 when we formed the Goema Captains of Cape Town, this is what Mac said, “We are busy putting up the cornerstone for goema as it were. In Brazil, everybody plays Brazilian music. In Cuba, everybody plays Cuban music. It doesn’t matter what colour they are or where their ancestors come from. That is going to happen here, and it is happening. We are the small stream trickling and it is going to come flooding one day. Where the turntablist is playing goema, the guy with a jazz thing, a rock thing, an Afrikaans thing; everybody is eventually going to be a goema musician. I can tell you a lot of beautiful things that happened to me because of playing goema.” Continue reading

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Darling Chamber Orchestra :: Goema Symphony No. 1 – The Finale

Ten years and six symphonic seasons later, Mac McKenzie (The Genuines, The Goema Captains of Cape Town) is back at the beginning. His original symphonic composition, now complete and with the enhanced title Goema Symphony No. 1 – The Finale, gets its World Première a full decade after its birth as part of the annual Darling Music Experience.

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Goema Orchestra :: Sixth Concert Season

On two Saturdays in August 2014, the 16th and the 23rd, the Cape Town Composers’ Workshop presents the 6th season of the Cape Town Goema Orchestra. Six Cape Town based composers will present new work. This season debuts two new composers, Robert Jeffery and Tracy-Lee Engel, and welcomes back orchestra patron and founder Mac McKenzie, together with Keenan Ahrends, Maxim Starcke and Mandla Mlangeni.

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Goema Orchestra 2013 :: Meet the Composers

Mac McKenzie is the director of the Cape Town Composers’ Workshop, an incubator for emerging composers of Cape music. Formerly of the Genuines and Goema Captains of Cape Town, McKenzie is a self-taught composer. He stars in the award-winning documentary Mama Goema and is a regular guest in Basel, Switzerland, where he teaches and performs.

Born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia, Ana Strugar moved to Cape Town in 2010. She is a fervent and dedicated performer, composer, arranger and teacher. Strugar gains her inspiration from the fertile landscapes of jazz and classical music as well as the enchanting folklore of her homeland.

Mandla Mlangeni is a young, vibrant graduate of music composition from the University of Cape Town. A trumpeter, composer, bandleader and arranger, Mlangeni is a highly active collaborator and adept at many styles of music. He is also a strong believer in giving back to the community through voluntarily teaching.

A composer and multi-instrumentalist, Maxim Starcke writes for chamber ensembles and orchestra and performs live electro-acoustic improvised music. Interested in the intersection of art, music and performance, Starcke participates in multi-media collaborations and produces Cape soundscape music.

Jazz guitarist Keenan Ahrends is a graduate of the University of Cape Town and the Norwegian Academy of Music. Ahrends is an active teacher, composer and performer and has experienced a variety of international music platforms from touring with the National Youth Jazz Band in Sweden to participating in the Edge of Wrong Festival in Cape Town.

Amos Levin is a Wits University graduate and the Naledi Award-nominated composer of the orchestral musical Sauer Street. He is involved in education and is active in the production of devotional and commercial music. Levin has a deep affinity for orchestral instruments and makes his Goema Orchestra debut this season.

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Goema Orchestra :: Summer Season 2013

The Cape Town Goema Orchestra is happy to announce the dates of its Summer Season 2013 concerts. Orchestra performances are scheduled to take place on the first two Saturdays of November, showcasing a new batch of original compositions by six Cape Town composers. The Summer 2013 series is the Goema Orchestra’s first season to take place at the intimate Chisolm Room at the South African College of Music (University of Cape Town).

Founded on principles of fostering creativity and celebrating diversity, the Goema Orchestra provides an opportunity for emerging and established South African composers to platform their works. Established in 2010 under the auspices of the Cape Town Composers’ Workshop (a Section 21 Not-for-Profit Organisation), the project has gone from from strength to strength in its vision to elevate the profile of homegrown orchestral talents and foster a truly representative South African ouvre. Approaching music with this fresh and bold premise, the Goema Orchestra prides itself on being a classical ensemble that grooves.

While the works of musical director Mac McKenzie are most associated with the orchestra, the project has a much larger vision. Compositions to be played include works of Keenan Ahrends, the youngest of the composers. Mandla Mlangeni, Maxim Starcke and Serbian-born Ana Strugar return with new works for their third appearances while Amos Levin makes his Goema Orchestra debut. Mac McKenzie is scheduled to participate with a piece entitled “Cape Dance Variations.”

The project, now in its fourth year, is placing Cape Town firmly on the map in terms of fresh and inventive artistic and cultural output as a city that produces at least six new original symphonic works annually. The Cape Town Composers’ Workshop is currently planning to take a group of Goema Orchestra composers to Switzerland in early 2015. A Swiss Friendship Orchestra performed works by Mac McKenzie in 2012 and will do three concerts with him next year.


Performances: Saturday 2 November 2013 & Saturday 9 November 2013

Venue: C7 Chisholm Recital Room, South African College of Music

Doors Open: 19h30 | Show Starts: 20h00
General Admission: R100 | Students & Pensioners: R70

Contact Renate McKenzie at the Cape Town Composers’ Workshop for bookings, general enquiries, composers’ bios, photos and further information:
Mobile: +27 (0)72 500 2204
Email: composers.workshop.ct@gmail.com

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Cape Town Celebrates Sathima :: 13, 14 & 16 July 2013

South Africa’s inimitable jazz vocalist and composer Sathima Benjamin returned to Cape Town in 2011 following 34 years in New York. Benjamin and former husband Abdullah Ibrahim moved to the United States with their two children in the wake of the 1976 Soweto Uprisings. Their relocation effectively became exile as the apartheid government revoked their citizenship for participating in cultural work for the liberation movement. This month, Cape Town celebrates Sathima Benjamin’s “homecoming” with series of events that include a live performance, a film screening and lots of great music.

Saturday 13 July 2013 :: African Songbird Relaunched

Recorded in the year preceding her departure from South Africa in 1977, African Songbird was Sathima Benjamin’s debut release and a canvas for her own compositions. Unavailable for over three and a half decades, June 2013 saw the release of Matsuli Music’s reissue of the landmark Afro-jazz long-player on vinyl, CD digipak and digital-download formats. To mark the occasion of the album’s relaunch, Sathima Benjamin & The Hilton Schilder Trio will perform at Tagore’s Jazz Bar on the evening of Saturday 13 July. The performance will be streamed online via Pan African Space Station Radio.

Sunday 14 July 2013 :: Sathima’s Windsong Film Screening

This 2010 film-portrait of jazz vocalist Sathima Benjamin traces her musical journey from Cape Town to New York City via an astonishing morning in a Parisian recording studio with Duke Ellington in 1963. A reflection on displacement, exile, longing and belonging, Sathima’s Windsong premiered at Cape Town’s Encounters International Documentary Film Festival in 2010 (Runner-Up Audience Award). This one-off 6.15pm screening at the Labia-on-Orange on Sunday 14 July sees filmmaker Daniel Yon and Sathima Benjamin in attendance for Q&A.

Tuesday 16 July 2013 :: Future Nostalgia Spins Afro-Jazz Classics

Cape Town’s vinyl enthusiast collective Future Nostalgia dedicates a night to classic South African jazz from African Songbird to Underground in Africa on Tuesday 16 July. Recordings from the As-shams label are sure to abound as Matsuli Music’s Matt Temple takes a guest slot on the decks. Future Nostalgia gatherings are held every Tuesday at the Mahogany Room from 8pm.

Sathima Benjamin & The Hilton Schilder Trio
O’Driscolls, Cape Town (May 2013) | Photos: Calum MacNaughton

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Derek Gripper :: Jarabi (Toumani Diabaté)

Derek Gripper’s arrangement of Toumani Diabaté’s “Jarabi” at the Long Street Slave Church in Cape Town (May 2012). This performance sees a 21-string kora composition from Mali finding its expression on a six-string classical guitar at the same venue in which Diabaté performed in 2009. Gripper’s work as a “translator” of the West African kora appears on his 2012 album One Night on Earth: Music from the Strings of Mali and is available at New Cape Records on Bandcamp.

Catch Derek Gripper in Gauteng on Sunday 3 February 2013. There’s a “Bach meets Mali” recital at the Brooklyn Theatre at 3pm and the Joburg premier of Music from the Strings of Mali at The Lucky Bean at 8pm. Join the event on Facebook.

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Goema Orchestra :: South Atlantic Suite & Guest Composers

The December 2012 edition of the Cape Town Goema Orchestra showcases an expanded version of McKenzie’s “South Atlantic Suite” (which premièred in September 2012) as well as new orchestral works by Ana Strugar, Maxim Starcke, Reza Khota and Keenan Ahrends. December’s line-up also sees the exciting addition of jazz legend Sathima Bea Benjamin.

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