Neo Muyanga’s Hade Tata; sorrow amidst celebration


This is my very first blog and I am not sure that I am a natural blogger! I find it interesting that whilst I play  contemporary music, love modern art and architecture, read new novels and watch the latest films, I am resistant to other aspects of modern life! But wonderful Natalie Eskinazi who has built me a new website has encouraged me by creating a blog page so here goes…

I have been practising Neo Muyanga’s new piece Hade Tata (Sorry Father) which I commissioned. It is a highly evocative piece written in tribute to Nelson Mandela to commemorate the 20th anniversary in 2014 of democratic elections in South Africa. Neo lives in Cape Town and is also writing an opera about Mandela.

Perhaps this is why I have felt so reflective of late;  the piece poignantly expresses sorrow and trepidation in the midst of celebration. Muyanga communicates Madiba’s anxiety that he will not live up to the expectations of the world as well as our sorrow at having “fallen short of those hopes and dreams we once held sacred”. The music constantly alternates between joy and sadness.

I was thinking about this particularly on the 21st March. In South Africa it is Human Rights Day and a public holiday in remembrance of the Sharpeville massacre. But here in London it is a day which  our family  celebrates with joy; it is both my husband’s birthday and the Iranian New Year, Nowruz. This year I could not help but reflect on the gulf between these two yearly events which resonate in my calendar; sorrow amidst celebration again.

Again, in this anniversary year, the disparity between what we hoped for in South Africa and the present reality is painfully obvious. Yet there is still so much  to be grateful for.

I will never forget the elation of returning home for the first time after the dismantling of apartheid. So on the 26th April at Homerton College in Cambridge on the eve of that extraordinary day when everyone was able to vote for the very first time in South Africa, I hope to feel part of the celebrations by giving the premiere of Hade Tata. There will be sorrow at the loss of Mandela, an iconic South African, sadness at the corruption of his legacy but celebration of a truly great man and a prayer for a better future.



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