Nelson Mandela to be Honoured in a Musical Tribute


World icon, Nelson Mandela is to be honoured yet again – this time through a musical tribute.Cape Town Opera, Artscape and the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra will present the world premiere of  African Songbook as a tribute to Mandela’s remarkable life on 17 and 19 June, 2010.

African Songbook is an exhilarating mixture of opera, jazz, contemporary music, drama and history.

“You’ll be captivated by beautiful classical renditions, struck by the jazz and knocked sideways by the drama,” says Michael Williams, writer of African Songbook and General Manager of Cape Town Opera. Michael’s primary source of inspiration for African Songbook was Mandela’s biography, A Long Walk to Freedom.

During his extensive research, Michael identified what he considers three defining moments in the life of Nelson Mandela: initiation, Sophiatown and Sharpeville. In African Songbook, these moments come alive in a musical structure with an oratorio, a jazz sequence and a forty-minute opera in three acts performed by three different ‘Mandela’s.’

Act One explores life in rural Transkei and a young man’s initiation into adulthood using the traditional music of the Xhosa people from the 1920’s and 1930’s. The composer, Allan Stephenson, has created a score for orchestra and mass choir. The music of Sophiatown, arranged by Mike Campbell, sets the scene for Act Two, where the ‘Jig Club’, the local dance hall, is closed down by the authorities. The music of Roelof Temmingh is woven together on themes of revolution, incarceration and freedom in the final act. The Cape Philharmonic Orchestra will accompany the Voice of the Nation Chorus and Fezeka High School Choir.

African Songbook takes place at the Artscape Opera House on 17 June at 19h30 and on 19 June at 14h30 and 19h30. Book at Computicket via or 083 915 8000.

Please visit Cape Town Opera online at for more details.

Photo Credit: The Evening Standard

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