Musician, songwriter, and cultural pioneer, Dr Thokozani Mhlambi, ready to mesmerize Johannesburg audiences with his latest musical production: Hail to the King! A Musical Story.

Written, performed and produced by this multi-talented musician, this hot-property musical genius is ready to take the stage at Theatre On The Square, Sandton for a once-off, must-see performance on Sunday 20 August 2023.

The 37-year-old KwaZulu-Natal composer is known for incorporating art with music, having held an artistic residency at the prestigious Cite International des Arts in Paris France, and having his music used as a soundtrack for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

In this concert, Mhlambi presents a body of work fusing African and classical elements. It features himself on baroque cello and voice, plus five other string players. The cast also includes a 4-piece vocal ensemble.

Hail to the King! A Musical Story is based on a site visit to the ancient Zulu capital of King Dingane. The story is a retrieval of the aura of the ancient capital of King Dingane, the Zulu emperor in the 1830s. His capital called Umgungundlovu was a site of fascination both for African communities and European settlers alike. Reports of the capital travelled as far as the kingdom of Basutho, the Cape and many other places.

Mhlambi says the compositions to be showcased are a culmination of years of work researching and developing the music.

“This work was inspired by my involvement in the Five Hundred Year Archive project at the University of Cape Town. For the music, I had to look at the works of historical predecessors like the late icons Prof Mzilikazi Khumalo and BP Tyamzashe – who were great composers in the African tradition, fusing the old and new, African & modern elements, towards a whole new sound,” he says.

Following a Fellowship in Germany, Mhlambi presents a suite of new music composed for himself on the baroque cello, plus other instrumentalists, and vocalists. The work is made up of 3 main sections including (1) “meeting of the elephants”, (2) “the unveiling of the royal woman” as well as (3) “the king’s dance”.

“This is the first arrangement of my music for a full string ensemble and vocal consort. Jozi people are in for a treat with me playing cello, singing as well as directing the ensemble, while the important historical message is told on stage.”

The work is proudly supported by the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the University of Cape Town and Afropolitan Explosiv. Mhlambi also recently released his latest single, New Sensation of Life, which is currently available on all major streaming platforms.

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