The Gauteng Music Development is launching a 24-piece music ensemble featuring an 18-piece big band and six singers. Called the Mzansi Music Ensemble, it’s led by the seasoned trumpeter Prince Lengoasa, who is also its creative director.
The ensemble pays homage to Victor Ntoni, the late composer, arranger and bassist. Exhibiting his musical ingenuity, Ntoni established the Mzansi Music Ensemble in 2005.
Now through a series of performances, the ensemble celebrates Ntoni’s musical contribution and history. The performances will also honour other noteworthy composers from the 60’s era onwards as well as the current ones.
For the next few months, the ensemble will perform music of a different artist and a specific genre. The first collection of music, which will be staged at the State Theatre, Tshwane, from March 25-28, will be dedicated to the maestro, Ntoni.
The following months will be devoted to great composers such as Sandile Shange, Winston Mankunku Ngozi, Ntemi Piliso, Miriam Makeba and many others. “This will enable us to preserve our heritage and expose it to the younger generation so that it is not forgotten,” says Gauteng Music Development director Linda Ntoni.
It was always Ntoni’s vision to have such an ensemble. During the last years of his life he wrote big band scores that were never performed, and these will now finally be heard in the upcoming series of performances
“As someone who was also passionate about education and the idea of passing on the baton, the majority of the musicians forming part of the big band are those he mentored in their early years, [and this includes] a crop of the rising stars.
“The young ones will be mentored by the more experienced musicians, hence the ensemble will be acting as an incubator for these young musicians,” she said.
Already in this first instalment, the Mzansi Music Ensemble will unveil its first prodigy by the name of Siyabonga Zwane, a saxophonist whose raw hungry talent is being harnessed by his mentor on the project, the legendary Barney Rachabane.
Siya has already shown promise as a rising star with an equally moving story to share as an orphaned youngster who has found his purpose in music. South Africans are warned to hold their breath for his untethered passion, and versatile gift as an improviser.
Victor was last year posthumously awarded the Presidential Order of Ikhamanga for his 40 years of excellent contribution and achievements in the South African music industry.
His 2004 Heritage album was nominated for the South African Music Awards (SAMA) in the best contemporary jazz album category.
Other musicians who are part of the ensemble include the young lions Mthunzi Mvubu, Sisonke Xonti and seasoned vocalist Suthukazi Arosi.
The Mzansi Music Ensemble will perform from 25-28 March 2015 at the State Theatre. Tickets are available for R250 at Computicket,
Corporate packages are also available.