Dr Thokozani Mhlambi returns to the Baxter Theatre

South African cellist, songwriter, and cultural intellectual Dr Thokozani Mhlambi.

South African cellist, songwriter, and cultural intellectual Dr Thokozani Mhlambi.

Published Mar 17, 2024


Cape Town - South African cellist, songwriter, and cultural intellectual Dr Thokozani Mhlambi, is ready to mesmerise Cape Town audiences with his latest musical production, Hail to the King! A Musical Story, at the Baxter Theatre in April.

Fresh from a successful tour of the USA and Canada, Mhlambi brings a new production to town, which he describes as a celebration of Africa's rich heritage and artistic excellence.

“Hail to the King promises to be an enjoyable performance for the whole family, as it incorporates elements of storytelling, classical music and African izibongo poetry,” said organisers.

The three-day production takes to the stage on April 4-6 and promises to be nothing short of spectacular.

Dr Mhlambi has travelled to various countries with his music and when his not making music, he is an honorary research fellow at UCT's Archive and Public Culture Research Initiative.

“This work was inspired by my involvement in the Five Hundred Year Archive project at UCT.

“For the music, I had to look at the works of historical predecessors like the late icons Professor Mzilikazi Khumalo and BP Tyamzashe – who were great composers in the African tradition, fusing the old and new, African and modern elements, towards a whole new sound.”

Hail to the King! A Musical Story is based on a site visit to the ancient Zulu capital of King Dingane. The story is a retrieval of the aura of the ancient capital of King Dingane, the Zulu emperor, in the 1830s.

His capital, uMgungundlovu, was a site of fascination for African communities and European settlers alike. Reports of the capital travelled as far as the kingdom of Basutho, the Cape and many other places.

“The compositions to be showcased culminate years of work researching and developing the music.

“In this concert, I present a body of work fusing African and classical elements. It features myself on baroque cello and voice, plus other orchestral instruments. The cast also includes a vocal ensemble,” he said.

The 37-year-old KwaZulu-Natal composer is known for incorporating art with music, having held an artistic residency at the prestigious Cité International des Arts in Paris, France, and having his music used as a soundtrack for an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.

He concludes: “This is a full theatrical-dramatic production, which is different from my usual offering of music. It shows my vision on a larger scale, which helps give visual imagery to the musical work unfolding. The show is highly interactive and uses lighting design.”

Tickets cost R130 via Webtickets.