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An impressive debut for local conductor, Brandon Phillips

Brandon Phillips

The South African conductor, Brandon Phillips marked his debut with the country’s flagship orchestra, the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra recently. This was during the opening concert of the 2023 World New Music Days Festival by the International Society for Contemporary Music, which took place at the Joburg-based Linder Auditorium on Friday, 24 November.

According to Phillips, presenting contemporary music – including compositions by South African artists – holds significant importance in showcasing and preserving the diverse musical landscape of the modern era. He was very excited about making his debut with the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra and looks forward to future performances on their podium.

The 2023 ISCM World New Music Days Festival was hosted in South Africa by NewMusicSA, marking its 100th anniversary edition. The annual festival spans ten days and serves as a global hub for more than 100 composers from 50 countries, fostering new ideas, collaborations and incredible artistic fusions. In fact, this year’s event featured over 70 groundbreaking new music compositions performed by an impressive lineup of 200 musicians across more than 25 events. Evidently, WNMD 2023 has been dubbed the most significant assembly of contemporary music ever witnessed on the African continent.

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Bongani Tembe, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of Mzansi Philharmonic, expressed pride in including Brandon Phillips among their esteemed guest conductors. Ultimately, Phillips’ dedication to musical excellence across various genres and his commitment to developing young South African musicians align with the orchestra’s ethos.

Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra with Brandon Phillips

Phillips is currently a full-time faculty member at the University of Cape Town’s South African College of Music. He is also no stranger to the South African stage. In fact, he has made regular guest appearances with orchestras like the KZN Philharmonic, Johannesburg Philharmonic, Johannesburg Festival Orchestras and the Cape Town Philharmonic.

The conductor initiated his career in the New Apostolic Church and pursued studies in bassoon and viola at the University of Cape Town. Finally, he earned his Diploma for Orchestral Studies and BMus Hons in solo bassoon in 2005. In addition, he was the winner of the inaugural Len van Zyl Conductor’s Competition in 2010 (now the SA Conductors’ Competition). Therefore it comes as no surprise that he is frequently invited to serve as an adjudicator and conductor for various competitions. This includes ATKV, Artscape National Youth, UNISA Winds and the Schock Singing competitions.

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