UKZN’s Neil Gonsalves is one of 20 pianists performing in the Thanksgiving Concert to raise funds to help 
feed the hungry 
across Durban.
UKZN’s Neil Gonsalves is one of 20 pianists performing in the Thanksgiving Concert to raise funds to help 
feed the hungry 
across Durban.

Lockdown treat as 20 pianists in concert inspired by Darius Brubeck

By Tanya Waterworth Time of article published May 23, 2020

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Durban - A treat for locked down music lovers is in store as 20 pianists from South Africa, the UK and US will take part in an online piano concert on Wednesday, May 27.

Inspired by American jazz pianist, composer and retired university Professor Darius Brubeck, who taught at the University of KwaZulu-Natal for many years and headed up the UKZN Centre for Jazz and Popular Music, the concert has been headlined as a Thanksgiving Concert after Brubeck, 72, survived a life-and-death struggle with Covid-19.

The jazz maestro started the first degree course in jazz studies in Africa in 1983 at UKZN and has been credited with taking jazz to the next level on the continent.

Now living in the UK, the news that he had contracted Covid-19 shook the jazz and piano world. He was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit of the Conquest Hospital in Hastings, England, on March 19, with doctors saying he had a 50/50 chance of survival. By last month, he had fought off the virus and went home to recuperate under the care of his wife.

The Thanksgiving Concert falls under the Piano Passion Project and forms part of the UKZN Centre for Jazz and Popular Music and iSupport Creative Business’ Music Unlocked Sessions.

Organiser of the online piano fest, UKZN’s Neil Gonsalves, said the concert was being held to raise funds for the Denis Hurley Centre, which has been at the coalface of the pandemic in terms of providing for the homeless during lockdown.

“Given Darius’s miraculous recovery and the obvious financial need in our communities, the Piano Passion Project found a fund-raising thanksgiving concert was in order.”

With the restriction of current social distancing measures, the decision was made to host an online concert with pre-recorded piano performances especially created for the event. For the two-hour concert, each pianist will present a set of about five minutes

Pianists who will feature are Melvin Peters. Burton Naidoo, Debbie Mari, Nishlyn Ramanna (UK), Andile Yenana, Neil Gonsalves, Mark Kilian (US), Shemual Mahabeer, Sibusiso Mashiloane, Lungelo Ngcobo, John Edwards, Nduduzo Makhathini, Lindi Belong, Zwelihle Kunene, Siyanqoba Mthetwa, Zoe Molelekwa, Susan Barry, Roland Moses, Vincent Mthethwa, Khabelo Witness Matlou (US), Obakeng Thamage and Mike del Ferro (the Netherlands).

Brubeck is also a member of the Piano Passion Project, an open collective of pianists, many of whom are connected to him.

“The older pianists would have been students of Darius’s and the younger pianists mine or Burton’s. Sibusiso Mashiloane was a student of mine many years ago and the youngest pianists on the bill would have been taught by him as well.

“Darius is central to this story and we are enormously relieved and grateful that he's recovering. We pay tribute to his astonishing legacy through this concert,” Gonsalves said.

Tickets cost R80 and a concert link will be sent at 6pm on Wednesday. To book, see www.webtickets.co.za.

The Independent on Saturday

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