Cape Town – One of South Africa’s most distinguished pianists, Abdullah Ibrahim, will present two solo piano concerts at the Artscape Theatre on Friday, 13 and Saturday, 14 October 2017.
The highly anticipated programme showcases compositions spanning the past seventy years, influenced by people, places and events that have impacted Abdullah’s life and career.
More about the legend’s life and why he left SA:
Abdullah Ibrahim was born in 1934 in Cape Town and baptized Adolph Johannes Brand. His early musical memories were of traditional African Khoi-san songs and the Christian hymns, gospel tunes and spirituals that he heard from his grandmother, who was pianist for the local African Methodist Episcopalian church, and his mother, who led the choir.
The Cape Town of his childhood was a melting-pot of cultural influences, and the young Dollar Brand, as he became known, was exposed to American jazz, township jive, Cape Malay music, as well as to classical music. Out of this blend of the secular and the religious, the traditional and the modern, developed the distinctive style, harmonies and musical vocabulary that are inimitably his own.
In 1962, with Nelson Mandela imprisoned and the ANC banned, Dollar Brand and Sathima Bea Benjamin left the country. The pair then married in 1965. In 1968, while in self-imposed exile, Dollar Brand converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdullah Ibrahim.
Here’s a video of Abdullah performing in Hamburg in 1968:
Why he came home:
In 1990 Mandela invited him to come home to South Africa. The fraught emotions of coming back to South Africa are reflected in Mantra Modes (1991) and in Knysna Blue (1993). He memorably performed at Mandela’s inauguration in 1994.
Here’s Abdullah’s song, Manenberg along with a video of him visiting Robben Island for the first time:
For more than a quarter-century he has toured the world extensively, appearing at major concert halls, clubs and festivals, giving sell-out performances, as solo artist or with other renowned artists(notably, Max Roach, Carlos Ward and Randy Weston). His collaborations with classical orchestras have resulted in acclaimed recordings, such as African Suite (1999, with members of the European Union Youth Orchestra) and the Munich Radio Philharmonic orchestra symphonic version, “African Symphony” (2001), which also featured the trio and the NDR Jazz Big Band.
What he’s up to now:
When not touring, he now divides his time between Cape Town and New York. In addition to composing and performing, he has started a South African production company, Masingita (Miracle), and established a music academy, M7, offering courses in seven disciplines to educate young minds and bodies. Most recently, in 2006, he spearheaded the historic creation (backed by the South African Ministry of Arts and Culture) of the Cape Town Jazz Orchestra, an eighteen-piece big band, which is set to further strengthen the standing of South African music on the global stage. Abdullah has a black belt in martial arts with a lifelong interest in zen philosophy, he takes every opportunity to visit his master in private trips to Japan. In 2003 he performed charity concerts at temples in Kyoto and Shizuoka, the proceeds going to the M7 academy.
Event information about Abdullah Ibrahim’s solo shows in Cape Town:
Date: 13 and 14 October 2017
Venue: Artscape Theatre
Cost: R300 to R375
Tickets are available from Artscape on 021 421 7695 and Computicket or 086 191 58000.