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.

With paternal roots on the South Atlantic island of Saint Helena, Sathima Benjamin is a fitting guest at the orchestra’s Saturday evening performances (7.30 for 8pm on 8 and 15 December at the SABC Studios Auditorium in Sea Point). Benjamin, who returned to Cape Town in 2011 after 34 years in New York, will perform her poignant compositions “Africa” and “Music” (arranged for the orchestra by George Werner). Both of these titles appear on Benjamin’s African Songbird LP of 1976, which is being prepared for reissue in 2013 by Matsuli Music.

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One Response to Goema Orchestra :: South Atlantic Suite & Guest Composers

  1. Calum says:

    Video excerpts from the Saturday 8 December 2012 performance here. Event page for the concert on Saturday 15 December here. And a beautifully penned press release from Iain Harris, secretary of the Cape Town Composers’ Workshop right here:

    Mac McKenzie’s Goema Orchestra has moved into the fourth season of what must surely be one of the most significant musical movements in South Africa in the last decade. The Goema Orchestra is a musical umbrella which is “goema” more in ethos than in sound, honing in on the movement of people and sounds and stories that created Cape Town. The orchestra is debuting five new orchestral works by Cape Town based composers this weekend. Not only has Mac been composing his own new work but he has also been mentoring others and nurturing an orchestra to perform them.

    “There’s nothing like it!” says Reza Khota, Cape Town guitarist and composer. “All these new works on one night, I don’t know if it’s ever been done anywhere.” Keenan Ahrends, the youngest of the composers at age 25, best exemplifies the purpose of the project as, without the intervention of the Composers’ Workshop, he wouldn’t have an opportunity to work with an orchestra. As Valmont Layne, cultural producer and former chief of the District Six Museum says, “The Workshop is important for a city that increasingly seeks to value creativity and innovation for social development. Here is a living, thriving example in its musical life that points to its rich traditions but also to its restless contemporary nature.”

    In addition to the young composers featured is Sathima Benjamin, one of the greatest legends of Cape Town music both as a performer of international repute and a music entrepreneur. Cape Town pianist and arranger George Werner has arranged one of her late 70s compositions entitled “Music” for the Goema Orchestra. George says, “If it wasn’t for Sathima the world wouldn’t have known about Abdullah Ibrahim. And if it wasn’t for Abdullah, the world probably wouldn’t know about our jazz and especially about goema! Sathima is a portal. And she’s also far less recognised here than she should be. We have a lot to be thankful to her for and it’s fitting that the Goema Orchestra can feature this great icon together with the next generation.”

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