Bongani Ndodana-Breen
South Africa

Mr. Bongani’s new work will be premiered in the spring of 2020. It is connected to Beethoven’s Sonata no. 29 in B-flat Major, “Hammerklavier”.


Bongani Ndodana-Breen is a South African composer, musician and cultural activist. He was born in 1975 in Queenstown, South Africa and is a member of the Xhosa clan. He was educated at St. Andrew's College and Rhodes University in Grahamstown where he graduated with a PhD in Music Composition. In 1998 Ndodana-Breen was the first Black classical composer to be awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music, by the National Arts Festival and sponsored by Standard Bank of South Africa. He was profiled on CNN African Voices for his work Harmonia Ubuntu commissioned for the centenary of Nelson Mandela and based on his writings and speeches. He is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University for the 2019/2020 academic year.

Dr. Ndodana-Breen's music is a blend of African and classical styles. Some of his music reflects on various scenes from his native Xhosa culture.

He has received commissions from across the globe from the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the Miller Theatre of New York, Vancouver Recital Society, Minnesota Orchestra, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, and Wigmore Hall, London (a quintet for pianist Maria João Pires.

He has written operas, orchestral and chamber works, including the opera Winnie The Opera based on anti-apartheid activist Winnie Mandela. South Africa's liberation struggle seems to be a major theme in his orchestral works such as his piano concerto Emhlabeni, the short opera Hani on the anti-apartheid activist Chris Hani and more recently the oratorio Credo, a musical testament to the Freedom Charter.

Dr. Ndodana-Breen is also an advocate for cultural diversity, supporting various African efforts including LGBT causes.