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Friday, February 5, 2010


South African composer and pianist – and creator of “clazz” dies in Germany.

South African composer and pianist Surendran Reddy, the creator of the music style “clazz” died on January 22. In a moving tribute from Professor Christine Lucia on, she writes as follows:

“Surendran Reddy died on Monday night in Germany, at the age of 47. He had been ill for two years and was in hospital for the last few days. He is survived by his devoted parents Leela and Y.G. Reddy, his brother Rajen, and his daughter Leela, He is also mourned by many close friends, especially Heike and Florian in Konstanz, and I am sure he will be mourned by fans who loved his music, his indomitable spirit, and his larger-than-life creativity and originality.” (Visit the Kaganof site for the full tribute)

Surendran Reddy was born in Durban on March 9, 1962, eventually moving to Zimbabwe where he grew up and started his musical career at an early age. He studied piano at the Rhodesian Academy of Music in Bulawayo and was appearing in concert tours as a classical pianist at the age of 13. He won a scholarship at the age of 15 which took him to the Royal College of Music in London where he studied from 1977-1981. From 1981 to 1982, he studied musicology at King’s College, London University and graduated at the age of 19 having won numerous awards. While still a student, he had opportunities to perform at London's Wigmore Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields and Queen Elizabeth Hall.

After his studies at the Royal College of Music and King’s College in London, Reddy had built up a strong international career as a classical and jazz pianist and created his own new musical style called “clazz” in which he fuses classical, jazz, South African mbaqanga and other world music elements. His compositions, which have been performed all over the world, include orchestral and chamber music as well as solo instrumental and vocal works.

After returning to South Africa, he lectured at the University of Durban-Westville, joined NAPAC as resident pianist and then became Head of the Music Department at FUBA Academy of Music in Johannesburg. He played with all the major orchestras in South Africa and got to work with international artists such as Kiri Te Kanawa, and the Harlem Dance Company amongst others. He also played with numerous South African stars such as Sibongile Khumalo, Allen Kwela and Johnny Fourie.

As a composer, he was often commissioned to compose pieces for national and international competitions. His works have been performed in Russia, Canada, the States and Germany as well as other countries. Reid Anderson, Artistic Director of the Stuttgart Ballet and the world's foremost exponent of John Cranko's ballets choreographed Reddy’s Four Romantic Piano Pieces which became a hit of the Alberta Ballet. His solo piano recitals took him to the Grahamstown Festival and the New Music Festival, Youngstown, USA.

Surendran also wrote jingles for Radio and TV, worked as musical director for numerous shows and recorded extensively for the SABC. He worked on a number of albums including his two solo CDs: Reddy, Steady, Go! and Rough 'n Reddy. His fusion band Channel 18 – consisted of himself on piano and keyboards, Bruce Cassidy on EVI, Denis Lalouette on bass and Rob Watson on drums - featured his own jazz compositions.

In 1996, SAMRO commissioned Surendran, together with six other composers, each to write a movement of a larger oratorio dealing with issues arising out of the Human Right's Treaty and intended as a gift from South Africa to the Olympic Games held at Atlanta in that year. His movement is entitled Masakane (Let Us Build Together) and the orchestral version of the piece was premiered on March 23, 2000, by the KZNPO in Durban. His piece Toccata for John Roos was performed at the 11th Unisa International Piano Competition in Pretoria in 2008. It is sadly ironic that at the time of this death, the 15th Unisa International competition is currently underway.