Bongani Magatyana, Traditional South African Music

Saturday, April 10, 2021
11:00am EST/10:00am CST

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Bongani Magatyana is a professional singer/music director/composer/theatrical producer living in Gugulethu Township in Cape Town, South Africa who has worked with Village Harmony groups in and out of South Africa since 2012. A dancer as well as singer, Bongani is particularly adept at communicating the elusive rhythms of traditional South African songs as well as the songs he composes himself.

He was born in Cape Town in a township called Old Crossroads; his father was a self-taught choir conductor in the Old Apostolic Church. Bongani’s father taught him how to read and write tonic solfa music notation at a young age, and young Bongani dreamt of becoming a church choir conductor, too. Today he conducts a 120-voice OAC choir himself, as well as a community male choir and a new Cape Town children’s choir.

Bongani’s folk-inspired choral compositions—popular pieces for South Africa’s major choral competitions—are sung by choirs around South Africa and internationally. Currently Bongani teaches at the Zolani Centre in Langa Township, leads an educational musical theatre company, and continues to compose music in a variety of genres, bringing vibrant performances to communities across Cape Town.

Bongani has been teaching with Vermont-based Village Harmony since 2012, co-leading annual study-performance camps and workshops in South Africa, the US and the EU.  

Bongani has also helped to organize and lead three-week long study-tours for college singing ensembles from DePauw University (2018) and Harvard University (2019), as well as a two-week workshop in Cape Town in January 2020 for community choir singers from Vancouver, BC, just before the Covid-19 pandemic shut down international travel.

Watch a concert at University of Chicago with the Chicago Children’s Choir Alumni following a 4-day workshop with Bongani in August 2019. 

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