Composer Portrait: Lukas Ligeti

Lukas Ligeti
Lukas Ligeti

The music of Lukas Ligeti will be celebrated in a special portrait concert featuring members of the Johannesburg Festival Orchestra conducted by Gerben Grooten; marimba virtuoso Ji Hye Jung and South African pianist Kathleen Tagg.

Austrian-born, New York-based Lukas Ligeti is one of the most versatile and innovative artists on the international new music scene. His genre-defying work has taken him from classical composition to jazz and improvisation to collaborations with traditional musicians. Lukas’s long-standing relationship with Africa began in 1994, when he travelled to Côte d’Ivoire on a Goethe- Institut commission. Projects all over Africa followed, and he has developed a particularly close connection to Johannesburg, where he was featured at the first Unyazi Electronic Music Festival in 2005, was composer-in-residence at Wits, and now spends several months every year. Yet this concert (along with one at the New Music Indaba in Bloemfontein on July 23) marks the first time his classical music is performed in Africa.

On the programme will be two short piano solo pieces, Trinity and Champaign for Urbana, followed by the 30-minute-long, boundary-pushing marimba solo Thinking Songs, commissioned by a consortium of 16 of the foremost marimbists in the U.S. Thereafter, four works for chamber orchestra will receive their African premieres: Castle of Turns, Zambezi, Surroundedness, and Curtain. The influence of African music is always present in Ligeti’s work, from Mozambican timbila music to kora melodies of Mali or the enigmatic amadinda xylophone music from Uganda. Having worked in many of these places, he combines a deep knowledge of African culture with the spirit of a maverick experimentalist. The visual arts and other fields also figure as influences. The result is music both challenging and infectiously memorable.

Lukas Ligeti has been commissioned by many of new music’s leading ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet, Bang On A Can, the American Composers Orchestra, and Germany’s Ensemble Modern. As a drummer, he works at the forefront of experimental jazz, having collaborated with John Zorn, Marilyn Crispell, George Lewis, Susie Ibarra, and others, and co-leads Burkina Electric, the first electronica band from Burkina Faso. He received the Alpert Award, one of the U.S.’s most prestigious arts awards, in 2010. In September 2015, he will join the faculty of the University of California, Irvine.

This concert is made possible by support from Wits University, the Composers National Collegium, the Austrian Embassy in Pretoria, and the Goethe Institute in Johannesburg.

Free parking is available …

PRODUCTION: Composer Portrait: Lukas Ligeti
VENUE: The Linder Auditorium, Wits Education Campus, St Andrews Road, Parktown
SEASON:  Tuesday 28 July @ 19:30
RUNNING TIME:  Eighty minutes, no interval
BOOKING:  Free Admission
ENQUIRIES: 011 717 1376 /


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