Zulu History Inspiring the Classics!

A scene from the opera, uZiyankomo
A scene from the opera, uZiyankomo

One wouldn’t normally associate classical music with the history of the Zulu monarchy, but the Zulu royal families (like any kingdom anywhere in the world), are full of dramatic tales that make for the perfect inspiration for a classical composer. Or at least that’s what Durban-based, Warren Bessey, seems to think! Bessey has taken the stories of King Shaka’s mother, Queen Nandi, and his aunt, Princess Mkabayi Kajama, as the starting point for two of his recent symphonies, Nandi, iNdlovukazi yeziNdlovukazi and Inkosazane Mkabayi. The world premier of latter was performed by the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra at the end of last year.

And it seems that Bessey is not alone. Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo’s uShaka kaSenzangakhona is considered to be one of the most important works by a South African composer, and in the operatic vein Phelelani Mnomiya’s uZiyankomo highlights the virtues of morality in the life and reign of the Zulu king, Mpande kaSenzangakhona.

To get a taste of things click here for a rendition of Professor Khumalo’s Izibongo zikaShaka performed during the Sedibeng Choral Festival in 2011

Image courtesy of www.dailymaverick.co.za

Leave a Comment