ARTE VIVA MUSIC  |  Mthwakazi

Mthwakazi 2022 - 3IMG_9814-21.JPG

Image: Lithampiyakhe Photography

MTHWAKAZI

South Africa  |  Xho-pera / African Bow-Led with Operatic Vocals

PROFILE

Mthwakazi is known for her completely unique "Xho-pera" performances, which combine classical operatic vocals, exclusively in her native isiXhosa, with ancestral sounds from indigenous stringed bows and percussion instruments. 

 

Mthwakazi's compositions shift back and forth through time, gathering elements of traditional African, choral and church music, jazz, funk and a range of genres.   Contemporary instrumentation (keys, bass, brass) adds another layer, and she plays with a formation that ranges from a duo through to a full orchestra, or “Xhochestra”, depending on the occasion.    

 

Mthwakazi draws on a distinguished career of more than 20 years, which saw her perform in SA and Europe as a Mezzo Soprano, Coloratura, Dramatic Soprano and Lyric Soprano with top ensembles including  Isango-Portobello, the Olivier Award-winning Opera Company. 

Mthwakazi herself is an internationally recognised bow music expert, and plays a variety of bow instruments such as uHadi, uMrhubhe & uMakhweyane, many of which she makes by hand.   She has performed alongside legendary artists such as the late Dr Sibongile Khumalo, Hugh Masekela,  Madosini, Queen Cora, Simphiwe Dana and Jonas Gwangwa.

 

Mthwakazi is deeply rooted in her Eastern Cape heritage, and her electrifying performances, with extravagant headdresses, painted face designs and designed costumes, evoke images akin to visions. Her music carries a message which emphasizes spirituality, humanity, humility, peace, optimism, unity, co-existence and progress as a way of living.

LISTEN / STREAM

"Mthwakazi’s music serves as a harbinger signaling the birth of something new, refreshing and healing… every time Mthwakazi plays her music, Princess Magogo Ngangezinye kaDinizulu, our patron saint of traditional music, listens with delight from the other side of the timeline."
 
Tsepang Tutu Molefe, Sunday Times

Mthwakazi Music Video. 2016... UTHU WETHU V FIN YOUTUBE

Mthwakazi  Music Video. 2016... UTHU WETHU V FIN YOUTUBE
Mthwakazi  Music Video. 2016... UTHU WETHU V FIN YOUTUBE

Mthwakazi Music Video. 2016... UTHU WETHU V FIN YOUTUBE

05:44
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Mthwakazi   performs "Umphefumlo" joined by Zolani Mkiza  @ Afternoon Express

Mthwakazi performs "Umphefumlo" joined by Zolani Mkiza @ Afternoon Express

05:10
Play Video
Afrotaking Simphiwe Dana with Mthwakazi - iNkwenkwezi

Afrotaking Simphiwe Dana with Mthwakazi - iNkwenkwezi

07:12
Play Video

CAREER HIGHLIGHTS

  • 24 years of performance

  • Internationally recognised bow music expert 

  • 5 years experience as a memory and music health practitioner under the Global Health Institute based at the University of Dublin 

  • 12 years of indigenous music research 

  • Senior Fellow at the Nelson Mandela foundation and Columbia University 

  • Founder of the Chosi Chosi
    Creative Academy 

DISCOGRAPHY

  • Amax’okwenza (2009)

 

Upcoming:

  • New album due in 2023

PREVIOUS INTERNATIONAL PERFORMANCES

  • France, South Africa, The Netherlands, UK, USA

PERFORMANCE FORMAT OPTIONS

Sextet:

  • 3 vocalists, keys, double bass, percussion

Octet:

  • 4 vocalists, keys, double bass, percussion, trumpet

Xhocestra

  • Big Band format