Hail to the King! A Musical Story

When:  April 4-6, 2024
Venue: Golden Arrow Studio, Baxter Theatre
Time: 8pm
Tickets: www.webtickets.co.za, and are R130, special price for students and pensioners
Direct booking link: https://www.webtickets.co.za/v2/event.aspx?itemid=1542858743 

Website: http://thokozanimhlambi.com
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/thokozani.music/
Instagram: www.instagram.com/thokozani_mhlambi
TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@thokozani.mhlambi        

Dr Thokozani Mhlambi, South African cellist and composer extraordinaire, recently returned from a tour of the USA and Canada, where he received accolades. He is presenting his musical theatrical show, Hail to the King! A Musical Story, in the Baxter Arrow Studio,Baxter Theatre, April 4-6, 2024 (three shows only). The show was launched in Joburg last year (2023) and now Cape Town will get the opportunity to see the internationally acclaimed artist on stage. Read on for more. Info as supplied:

Musician, songwriter, and cultural intellectual Dr Thokozani Mhlambi, is ready to mesmerize Cape Town audiences with his latest musical production: Hail to the King! A Musical Story next month

Fresh from a successful tour of the USA and Canada, Mhlambi brings a new production to town: a celebration of Africa’s rich heritage and artistic excellence. Hail to the King promises to be an enjoyable performance for the whole family, as it incorporates elements of storytelling, classical music and African izibongo poetry. 

Dr Mhlambi is an honorary research fellow at the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative. Written, performed and produced by this multi-talented musician, this hot-property musical genius is ready to take the stage at the Baxter Theatre, a 3-day must-see show from the April 4-6 2024. 

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 other orchestral instruments. The cast also includes a 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, Umgungundlovu, was a site of fascination 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 said his compositions to be showcased culminate years of work researching and developing the music. “This work was inspired by my involvement in the Five Hundred Year Archive project at UCT. 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 added.

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 three main sections, including meeting of the elephants, the unveiling of the royal woman, and the king’s dance.

“This is the first arrangement of my music for a full string ensemble and vocal consort. Cape Town 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,” said Mhlambi.

The work is proudly supported by UCT, the National Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and Afropolitan Explosiv.

So what makes the show different: “This is a full theatrical-dramatic production, which is different from Mhlambi usual offering of music. It shows my vision on a larger scale, which helps give visual imagery to the musical work unfolding. The show is highly interactive and uses lighting design,” said Mhlambi.

Heritage and memory: Internationally acclaimed South African cellist and composer, Dr Thokozani Mhlambi is presenting his musical theatrical show, Hail to the King! A Musical Story, in Cape Town, at the Golden Arrow Studio, April 4-6, 2024.

●     Dr Thokozani Mhlambi is not your usual musician. Not only does he play the cello, sing and compose his own songs, but Mhlambi uses his art and exhibitions to convey African stories/philosophies.

●     Born in Madadeni, KwaZulu-Natal, after fulfilling music studies in South Africa and Sweden, Mhlambi received his PhD in Music at the University of Cape Town. In South Africa, he has showcased work at leading platforms such as the Linder Auditorium, National Arts Festival, Baxter Theatre and Soweto Theatre—where he drew audiences from all walks of life. He has also been a visiting lecturer at universities in Finland (Jyvaskyla), and Brazil, to mention a few. And has had opportunities to perform and speak in places such as Chicago, Minneapolis, New Orleans (Tulane), São Paulo, Maputo (Mozambique) and New York.

●     Recently, Mhlambi’s rendition of Lizalise Idinga Lakho by Tiyo Soga (from his debut album Zulu Song Cycle), was featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Mhlambi was an invited contributor to the roaming academy of the Dutch Art Institute, an itinerant program fostering various creative practices at the intersection of art and theory. In 2019, he collaborated with revered Chinese visual artist Dachan, in a live performance/installation at the Zeitz MOCAA Museum in Cape Town.

●     In 2020, Mhlambi was selected as an Artist-in-Residence at Cite International Des Arts in Paris, supported by the Institut Français. He used the time to connect with artists from different parts of the world, specifically the African continent, and to develop new creative work.

●     Currently Mhlambi is working on building a digital repository of early African composers such as Enoch Sontonga, Nokutela Dube, Reuben Caluza, to mention a few. This is a project which is a collaboration between the Killie Campbell Africana Library (at UKZN), the Five Hundred Year Archive Project (at UCT) and Afropolitan Explosiv. 

✳ Featured image – Internationally acclaimed South African cellist and composer, Dr Thokozani Mhlambi is presenting his musical theatrical show, Hail to the King! A Musical Story, in Cape Town, at the Golden Arrow Studio, April 4-6, 2024. Pic supplied. Sponsored content.