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Introducing Composer Thandi Ntuli

Meet IN·FLO·RES·CENCE Composer: South African Pianist & Vocalist Thandi Ntuli

Introduction | Performance | Interview

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For IN·FLO·RES·CENCE Thandi Ntuli was commissioned by Reece Ewing to create a composition for solo piano around 1 minute in length responding to the changes to daily life during the global coronavirus outbreak. As part of the platform hosted by The Showroom, this individual piece and 9 others will all be interpreted and performed by the project’s first Artist-in-Residence, Pianist Elio Villafranca, throughout the duration of the project.

Thandi's composition, Gently As The Sower Reaps takes us back to about four years ago, when she went through what is often called a 'Saturn Return'. In astrology, this is a period where the planet Saturn is said to return to the position it was in at one's birth. Spiritually, it is often a period of great struggle and hopefully maturation. Where one experiences many ‘deaths’ in order to awaken to their true Selves. 'In my case', Thandi shares, 'it took the shape of destruction; dismantling ties with people, with ideas and most of all with an engagement with life that was not serving me. This was a great catalyst for incredible self-discovery and the beginning of a journey of self-love.'

As a seeker, whose spiritual walk and identity has often informed my outlook on life and my work as an artist, I find myself at a peculiar point in my life. A question that keeps haunting me is:

'Now what? Now that I am not who I thought I was, who am I?'

One of the things I’ve gotten better at in these past years, is embracing my feminine nature a lot more. Something that is often very difficult to do in a world and environment that more often celebrates the masculine. – Thandi Ntuli

Photo: Victor Dlamini

What Taoists call 'yin energy' and what most people may understand as a more receptive and surrendered disposition in life, has proven to be a more efficient way of being for me. The natural kingdom excels at this. Striking the perfect balance between yin and yang. As a novice to this 'new way', I am acutely aware of the fragility of the period of unfolding, the blooming. Especially as it pertains to rebirth after a ‘death’ in the cycle. I’ve observed a stubborn pull of the old ways as the unknown courts me with its promise of expansion, all with a newly found compassion for my weaknesses.

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Below is an intimate conversation with Kevin Le Gendre (Broadcaster and Writer of Don't Stop the Carnival: Black British Music, 2019) where Thandi discusses her interpretation of inflorescence, her special commission Go Gently As The Sower Reaps, life during lockdown in South Africa, and channelling a feminine energy.

New life is always vulnerable. Yet its potential inspires care-givers to nurture it to its fullness. I see myself, in this newness, as a budding plant, where my work involves being nurtured and surrendered as The Creator beckons me to 'Go Gently As The Sower Reaps'.' – Thandi Ntuli

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Gently As The Sower Reaps Score © Thandi Ntuli, 2020.

South African multi-award winning jazz pianist and vocalist Thandi Ntuli hails from a lineage of rich musical heritage. Since the release of her debut album The Offering (2014) and her sophomore release Exiled (2018), she’s made an imprint on the global jazz community as one of the leading voices of modern South African jazz. She released a live project, namely Thandi Ntuli: Live at Jazzwerkstatt in March 2020. This work displays the young artists capabilities as not only a composer and performer, but as an arranger with the remarkable facility to weave the imagery of her stories with each note.

To date, Thandi's many collaborations include but are not limited to work with Steve Dyer, Neo Muyanga, Thandiswa Mazwai, Shabaka & The Ancestors, Marcus Wyatt, DjKenzhero, LA based Hip-Hop duo Harriett, and most recently, as a featured soloist with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Centre Orchestra. Most notable awards and nominations including a Metro Fm Award nomination (2015), a Mbokodo Award (2015) and a South African Music Award (SAMA) nomination (2019). She was also the recipient of the coveted Standard Bank Young Artist award for Jazz in 2018.

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    Event In conversation: Dr. Tammy Kernodle with Elaine Mitchener, Siya Makuzeni & Thandi Ntuli

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    Event In conversation: Vijay Iyer, Andrea Giunta, Brinda Kumar & Kevin LeGendre

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    Event Introducing Artist-in-Residence Elio Villafranca

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    Event Introducing Composer Corey Mwamba

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