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Saturday, September 12, 2020


(Phelelani Mnomiya)

In this week’s issue of the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra’s At Home with the KZN Phil, the orchestra celebrates the life and times of the late Simon Bhekathina Phelelani Mnomiya (1960 – 2020), whose passing has left many with an inconsolable void.

In his early childhood in Empangeni, the young Mnomiya drew closer towards his passion of composing and performing choral music. He furthered his studies at the University of KwaZulu-Natal obtaining a doctorate degree and his catalogue of works has proven such a gift to the musical scene.

KZNPO Artistic Director Bongani Tembe says: “In reverence of his work, Mnomiya’s music has been featured countless times at the SASCE competitions and in other arts-cultivating competitions nationally and internationally. Mnomiya, who wore many hats, dedicated his efforts to the youth as a means to foster a respect for the choral art form. Mnomiya’s works were invaluable to the choral culture of not only KZN but the country. Having worked with the KZNPO over a two decade-long partnership, we salute one of the country’s best as we feature his momentous choral offering called ‘Madiba’. Lala ngoxolo Bab’ Mnomiya.”

Apart from being a productive composer, Mnomiya was also a bass singer, arranger and producer of diverse musical genres. His field of specialisation was focused on classical and gospel. He published an extensive songbook in 2006, written amongst others two cantatas, the well-received one-act opera uZiyankomo and the Forbidden Fruit, while widely conducting workshops and adjudicating competitions. In his Madiba for four vocal soloists plus mixed chorus and orchestra, the composer uses partly a text written by Madiba, with added lyrics written by himself: a very special gift for this year’s Mandela centenary.

(Brian Msizi Mnyandu)

Written in 2014, Madiba will be conducted by Brian Msizi Mnyandu and features Praise Poet Ntuthuko Ziqubu. The choirs include the Clermont Community Choir; Durban Symphonic Choir and Thokozani Choral Society Choir

Mnyandu is a graduate of the University of KwaZulu-Natal with a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, where he studied with Colleen Philp and Professor David Smith. During his studies, Mnyandu was awarded a scholarship to study at the Gothenburg University of Sweden where he appeared in numerous public performances and competitions. Back in South Africa, he participated in many local competitions in both provincial and national levels, notably the Arts and Culture Opera Stars and the Post Office Choral Eisteddfod as a tenor singer.

Mnyandu has been involved in many community outreach programmes in developing the young and upcoming musicians in the choral music industry. He has adjudicated many choral and opera competitions from church, schools, teachers and adult choirs. Managing the Clermont Choir Foundation has made many community engagement programmes a success for him, such as workshops for both the schools and adult choirs in KZN. Touring to Paris, France, with the Clermont Choir as the chorus master and tour manager in 2013 to commemorate Mandela Day was one of his successful endeavours in the choral music fraternity.

Many of his impressive orchestrations and compositions have been approved and performed by the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra, some of which were played at the state funeral of Nelson Mandela in 2013. Mnyandu has completed many music transcriptions for several organisations, notably the KZNPO which includes the Mozart Requiem. In 2013 he was tasked to be a chorus master to four Durban choirs of a successful performance of the 4th movement of the famous Beethoven Symphony No 9. He is part of the KZN Philharmonic young conductors programme where he works closely with Naum Rousine. One of the highlights of the ongoing and developing musical journey for Mnyandu is winning the National Melting Pot Art Festival held in 2013. He was awarded the Best Conductor Award by Jeremy Silver, Thami Zungu, Patrick Tikolo and Vetta Wise amongst the arguably 10 best conductors in the country. In 2014, Mnyandu was part of the adjudicators’ panel for the National Melting Pot Art Festival. Currently he is part of the National Choir Festival adjudicators’ panel.

Watch the performance of Madiba at

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Together with the World Symphony Series, the Orchestra also undertakes a comprehensive education, development and community engagement programme which exposes more than 30,000 urban and township learners to educational music concerts. Without the support of those who share the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra’s love for music and commitment to being an essential resource for the people of South Africa, the KZNPO would be hard-pressed to achieve its mission. The KZNPO is a registered Public Benefit Organisation (PBO) with SARS. Please help to ensure the KZN Philharmonic’s artistic growth & financial stability.


KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra

FNB: Durban Main Branch

Branch Code: 221426

Current Acc No: 62001363689

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(Programme Notes: © Paul Boekkooi, 2018)