Insurrections Ensemble

Special Project

The Insurrections ensemble is in the process of creating a musical-poetic performance around the idea of the lament, as shaped by voices and instruments in different times and places. The lament will be the musical form that will trace centuries-old connections between different segments of Afro-Asia. The three kinds of laments that will be worked with are that of the lover, the slave and the exile. We find that these are useful ways of organizing the rich historical and creative material that is available that reveal connections from the 6th century onwards. We will focus on musical performance that brings into focus Kerala, Gujarat, Ethiopia, Zanzibar, Southern Africa, Al-andalus, Persia and Arabia.

Sumangala Damodaran is a singer extraordinaire, composer, and economist. Classically trained in Carnatic and Hindustani music, she has spent the last decade collecting the musical compositions of India’s anti-colonial and working-class music from a tradition known as the Indian People’s Theatre Association. She has sung and composed for the theatre, is currently composing music for the poetry of Faiz Ahmad Faiz and completing her book on the aesthetics of the “Radical Impulse.” It was her meeting with South African poet Ari Sitas that started the Indo-African collaboration of Insurrections.

Brydon is a virtuoso double bass player, who learnt classical technique at an academy from a Yugoslavian cellist and jazz improvisation from the jazz players in the black and coloured townships surrounding Port Elizabeth. He is also a music educator, sound artist, curator of music and sound events, composer of contemporary classical music, and a sound designer for dance and theatre performances. Apart from playing for the KwaZulu-Natal Orchestra, he is one of the lynchpins of the highly respected Benguela trio and has beyond tight performance schedules composed for theatre and film. Brydon’s performing and composing ability, from the romantic to the atonal, made him an essential cog in the distinctive sound of the Insurrections project.

Jürgen is the University of KwaZulu-Natal Music Discipline’s art music composition guru and electronics specialist anywhere from Stockhausen to Zappa  and African tonalities. He has composed for numerous orchestras, ensembles and electronic media. He has written music for the Siwela Sonke Dance Theatre and for film . His Durban Noise and Scraps Works is a celebrated CD of new South African music.

Sazi is musicologist, band-leader, and guitarist in the jazz-influenced South African township style. He has composed music for documentary television, theatre and film, big band jazz and numerous original pieces employing self-made indigenous Nguni (bows, drums & flutes) and other African musical instruments. Previous collaborations with Jurgen Bauninger include Yinkosi Yeziziba (electronic music, voice, Nguni bows and percussion) and Jiwe (for string quartet,ugubhu bow and percussion).

Tina is a singer, songwriter, guitarist and author who performs extensively  locally and internationally. She has produced and staged her own shows, as well as collaborated with various artists on different productions in South Africa. Her music draws on an eclectic blend of styles including, folk, jazz, latin and contemporary.She grew up in a jazz family. Her father was one of the Cape’s legendary guitarists and Tina has been exploring the Khoisan, and Slave roots of music whilst becoming one of the main voices of the mass democratic movement of the 1980s. She has released three CDs one of which is a remarkable children’s compilation.

A poet, dramatist, and sociologist, Ari Sitas is a vital force in South Africa’s cultural life, who is re-designing the landscape of South Africa’s humanities in the country’s higher education system. It was his poetry, especially Slave Trades, and its musical texture, that convinced Sumangala that something could be done between the two countries. Ari, often in Delhi, met the innovators of modern Indian music, the sufi philosopher and performer Madan Gopal Singh, the guitarist Susmit Sen, the poets and dramatists of Delhi and threw his energy into this collaboration.

The Sarod’s new genius, Pritam Ghosal has worked extensively with Sufi Musician and singer Madan Gopal Singh and was key in Sumangala’s attempt to rework the musical traditions of India’s resistance providing textured renditions of the 1940s and 1950s compositions. He is a remarkable composer in his own right, an improviser and soloist- at home with classical and contemporary music. He is also a part of the experimental Indian-Belgian trio called Kurta Environment.