dancing in other words, Spier Poetry Festival

The third Spier dancing in other words Poetry Festival returns 7 May 2016.

Here they are: local and international guest poets at 2016 dancing in other words, Spier Poetry Festival, Saturday 7 May.

Curators Breyten Breytenbach, Dominique Botha and Neo Muyanga are delighted to reveal the confirmed line-up of acclaimed poets and thinkers, from South Africa and abroad, participating in the third international Spier Poetry Festival, dancing in other words, on Saturday 7 May:

James Matthews
From South Africa, JAMES MATTHEWS, our original “dissident poet”, born in the Bo-Kaap some eight plus decades ago.
Keorapetse Willie Kgositsile
Professor KEORAPETSE WILLIE KGOSITSILE, our national poet laureate.
Yvette Christians
Poet and novelist YVETTE CHRISTIANSË, South African-born, Australian-raised and currently residing in the US.
From Lagos, one of Nigeria’s leading performance poets and festival directors, EFE PAUL AZINO.
Michel Deguy
From Paris, acclaimed French philosopher and thinker-poet MICHEL DEGUY.
Mara Al-Massri
Madame MARAM AL-MASSRI Syrian-born, Paris-based and recent winner of the Dante Alighieri Prize.
Hans C. Ten Berge
HANS C. TEN BERGE, Dutch-born poet, essayist and translator.
M Georges Lory
The group is joined by M. GEORGES LORY, French translator of, among others, Krog and Gordimer.

uma jam session na sexte

the similarities are fascinating between south africa and brazil: the contrasts and contention between races; the suspicion between those who have and those in need. beauty, ubiquitous and ugly, leaning just against your wall; control and how quickly it might turns into violence. protest season is back, yet so much more is unfolding too. it’s been incredibly easy to fit alongside, vide a recent jam session with friends I’d only just met that hour here, at the sexte arts loft in recife! muito obrigado karina buhr, lorena vicini, e os amigos de sexte!! neo.

a new Revolting Music in California

The International Studies Public Forum,

UC Humanities Research Institute, and Illuminations Present

Revolting Music

Neo Muyanga

South African musician and co-founder, PanAfrican Space Station
“Revolting Music – A survey of the songs of protest
that liberated South Africa.”

It often comes as something of a surprise to many visitors to find that we, in South Africa, sang and danced throughout the decade of the 1980’s – a period many agree was one of the most violent phases in the struggle against the system of apartheid, and yet we, the people, sang and we made art fervently during this time. These acts were not merely stratagems for fun but the songs were a part of our arsenal in the fight to secure democratic rights for all and to overthrow the government.

During his talk, Neo Muyanga will present a series of anecdotes and medleys of songs of protest from the era of the 80’s – songs of his youth – juxtaposed against new songs he has composed in response to the challenges of new socio-political realities in South Africa Today.

This talk is sponsored by the Institute for International, Global and Regional Studies (IIGARS)



Neo Muyanga was born in Soweto.
He studied the Italian madrigal tradition with choral maestro, Piero Poclen, in Trieste, Italy. In the mid 90’s he co-founded the acoustic pop duo, blk sonshine with Masauko Chipembere, garnering a following throughout southern Africa and internationally. Neo writes music plays, chorus songs and has a variety of works for chamber and large ensemble (his operetta, “the flower of shembe”, premiered to critical acclaim in 2012). He continues to tour widely both as a solo performer and in various band guises. Neo co-founded the pan African space station in 2008 with Chimurenga’s publishing editor, Ntone Edjabe, as a continually evolving host of cutting-edge pan African music and sound art on the internet and across stages in Cape Town and other parts of the globe.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

University of California, Irvine
Social Science Plaza A, Rm 1100

UC Humanities Research Institute | communications | uchri.org

Massa Revoltante video

dear friends, here’s a short film made about our project to connect along themes of
protest and music in the global south, which took place in brazil earlier this year.


love, neo

Heart of Redness

Category: Operas
Next Date: 19 Aug 2015
Time: 19:30
Place: The Fugard Theatre

come see our new production – part opera, part township musical – at the fugard theatre this august.
Wednesday 19, Thursday 20, Friday 21, Saturday 22 @ 19:30
The Fugard
R100, R150, R190
Book at Computicket
In Collaboration with Magnet Theatre
COMPOSER Neo Muyanga
DIRECTOR Mark Fleishman
The young cast which includes Magnet Theatre and UCT drama graduates, and some of the young Cape Town Opera Members, have come together under the direction of Mark Fleishman to create a musical version of the Zakes Mda novel HEART OF REDNESS.
Shortlisted for the prestigious Commonwealth Writers Prize, HEART OF REDNESS tells a story of South African village life against the backdrop of a notorious episode from the country’s past. Camugu, who left for America during apartheid, has returned to Johannesburg. Disillusioned by the problems of the new democracy, he travels to the remote Eastern Cape where, in the nineteenth century, a teenage prophetess named Nonqawuse commanded the Xhosa people to kill their cattle and burn their crops, promising that once they did so the spirits of their ancestors would rise and drive the occupying English into the ocean. The failed prophecy split the Xhosa into Believers and Unbelievers, dividing brother from brother, wife from husband, with devastating consequences. One hundred fifty years later, the two groups’ descendants are at odds over plans to build a vast casino and tourist resort in the village, and Camugu is soon drawn into their heritage and their future

All Dates:

  • 22 Aug 2015
  • 21 Aug 2015
  • 20 Aug 2015
  • 19 Aug 2015

notes from a composer-in-residence june and july 2015

aesthetics in black

talking black music, protest and aesthetics with the likes of mark anthony neal, shana redmond, robin kelley, guthrie ramsey, gayle murchison and tamara levitz was a special moment this june. hosted by the hammer museum in westwood, los angeles, we meandered our way over history, colour, identity, art and politics exploring the threads that bind cultural expression in south africa with what’s unfolding in the united states of america.

we did this around themes examined in my new opera, “the struggle is my life”, as a prism by which to reflect on questions of diversity and transformation (and transcendence) in the practice and performance of opera as a musical art form.

here’s a link to the entire web stream of the event broadcast from the hammer:


i intend to spend more time in california later this year workshopping “the struggle” and other new music theatre works to deepen the thinking around what were are, for the moment, calling “black opera”.
i’ve been on a drive to meet conductors, singers, orchestral players and improvising musicians working in the music departments at uc irvine, ucla and bringing them together with practitioners who inhabit a somewhat different take on the act of music-making in the popular sphere – community institutions like ‘the world stage’ in leimert park, south central l.a.

aesthetics in white samba

extrapolating further the theme of making radical art at street level i returned to sao paolo, brazil, to carry out a week-long intervention in protest-making in the global south together with, among others, ilu oba – a group of women who perform candomble rhythms usually forbidden to females in the yoruba tradition. packing djembes, dun duns, shekere and our loud voices, a few score of us took to the streets of bom retiro – the jewish-korean-bolivian quarter – to sing songs to chango, the orixa sometimes associated with making war, and forcing open any locked gates.

we made so much noise that at some point local security guards actually tried to shut us out and stop us crossing the parcue da luz – a public park. they managed only to slow us down though, since eventually the gates were thrown open.

neo muyanga, WISER/UCHRI composer-in-residence, 2015