Tribute to Madiba

2018-09-19 06:00
PHOTO: Jonathan BurtonBurton Naidoo is pictured at the Mandela Capture Site in the Midlands ahead of his world premiere of his solo piano piece, Our Song at the Hilton Arts Festival.

PHOTO: Jonathan BurtonBurton Naidoo is pictured at the Mandela Capture Site in the Midlands ahead of his world premiere of his solo piano piece, Our Song at the Hilton Arts Festival.

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INSPIRED by the life and character of Nelson Mandela, pianist, composer and arranger Burton Naidoo from Amanzimtoti will be performing the World Premiere of his latest creation, Our Song, at the Hilton Arts Festival at Hilton College on September 15 at 2 pm.

Naidoo has performed throughout the world and continues to push boundaries of his musical imagination. His latest offering, Our Song, is a solo piano and track performance, where he has transcribed some of Mandela’s most iconic speeches. The words of the speeches are “pitch-classed” and harmonised in an effort to create a musical backdrop to these important pieces.

In his only appearance at this year’s festival, Naidoo has written new compositions specially to complement his performance. “In all honesty, I don’t know of other iconic speeches having been transcribed into original music!” admits Naidoo.

“Growing up, I used to hear of this name, Nelson Mandela! My dad was a politician, so I remember him mentioning Mandela’s name very often in conversations with my mother and friends. I think that I was already intrigued by this man who I had not even seen up to that point. I somehow knew that this was an important person. I was 10 years old when Madiba was released. I remember watching the footage on TV at home. I had many questions at the time.”

“The idea started in 2006, when I did the first transcription. Up to this point, it has just been an erratic process of transcribing the speeches as often I am in love with the idea. I have always been able to hear the melody in people’s voices. Speech has the same construct as a piece of music, phrasing, punctuation, articulation, rhythm, and even key. I remember thinking that there’s no better person to explore this concept on, than the words of Mr Mandela.”

After performing Our Song at the festival, Naidoo hopes to tour it nationally as other music festivals and then hopefully take it internationally.

“That is the plan, after all: The brave man is not he that does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. That’s my favourite quote from Mandela that encourages me to do more and try harder.”

The festival will take place on the beautiful grounds of Hilton College from September 14 to 16.

The festival would not be possible without the generous support of Hilton College, Grindrod Bank, Black Coffee Design, DWR Distribution, Extreme Events, Bidvest Car Rental, KZN Department of Arts and Culture, Redlands Hotel, Assitej South Africa, Loud Crowd, Sappi, BASA, RMB and Corona.

For more information, visit or like the Face­book page, Hilton Arts Festival. Follow us on Twitter @HiltonFest and Instagram. Inquiries on 033 383 0126/7 or The full programme is on

Online bookings are open, and programmes are available from various outlets in KZN. Refer to website for list of outlets. — Supplied.


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