Dr Musa Duke Nkuna, world-renowned opera performer, composer and arts administrator.
This visit by Dr Nkuna created an exciting opportunity for staff and students from the Faculty of Arts and Design to interact with and to sit at the feet with one of the most well-known tenors in the world today. To celebrate Dr Nkuna’s historic visit, TUT music students Keagile Mohlomunyane [base]), Asisipho Petu [mezzo soprano], Tsholofelo Masango [soprano] and Ntsikelelo Mkhwanazi [tenor], assisted by their music lecturers, serenaded Dr Nkuna in a series of jaw-dropping arias and opera choruses.
In his response, Dr Nkuna, who has been living and working in Germany for the past 23 years, provided some insights and snippets into his life and extensive career. The Limpopo born musician is briefly in South Africa, as project initiator, artistic consultant, and actor in Mozart’s Don Giovanni – currently on the Mandela Stage at the Joburg Theater from the 12th to the 21st of August 2022. In this Don Giovanni production, Dr Nkuna plays the role of Don Ottavio.
Dr Nkuna comes from a musical family.
“My father is a composer and he writes mostly choral music. My mother is in a church choir. Growing up in a musical family evoked my interest in singing choral music. When I was 15, I met a Swiss missionary, Paulette Robert, and she discovered my voice when she heard me singing and thought I had a beautiful voice. She gave me singing lessons, taught me theory and the history of music, to read and write staff notation”, Dr Nkuna explained.
From singing in the church and school choirs, Dr Musa went on to study music up to doctoral level. He has been living and working in Germany as an Opera singer and composer for the past 23 years.
“We are 28 years into democracy. Before all that, it was very difficult for black people to understand and appreciate classical music. It was not meant to be our music in a sense that it was not taught at schools, and this sounded foreign to us, even for older people before our time, they were not allowed to go to theatres and watch classical music and opera. We now have an opportunity to refine it with our own African touch”, he said.
Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, Vice-Chancellor and Principal with Dr Musa Nkuna.
The Message of Vice Chancellor and Principal – Prof Tinyiko Maluleke
In his moving tribute to Dr Nkuna, Prof Tinyiko Maluleke, said that Dr Nkuna has not only become a highly decorated and respected opera tenor in the world, but his own compositions are also regularly performed in concerts in such countries as Germany, Austria, Portugal, Poland, Switzerland, USA and here at home.
“Every time Dr Musa Nkuna sings in concerts and operas all over the world, he represents something unique and fundamental about us, our country and our culture. In all his lyric tenor roles representing such characters as Tamino in Mozarts’s The magic flute, Don Ottavio in Giovanni, Ferrando in Cosi fan Tutte, Rodolfo in Puccini’s La Boheme, in all of the more than 100 opera productions, in which Dr Nkuna has featured, he communicates something about South African excellence. He performs, sings and exudes our essence and our being.”
To conclude his remarks, Prof Maluleke thanked Dr Nkuna for “representing to the world, the best of what South Africans can be” and for the way in which talent, voice, performance and scholarship find seamless expression in his life. Prof Maluleke was particularly appreciative of the fact that Dr Nkuna had taken time, in the midst of a very busy schedule, to visit “the leading University of Technology in Africa – the Tshwane University of Technology”. He went on to underscore that what Dr Nkuna and the Tshwane University of Technology have in common is “our shared commitment to excellence, our mutual obsession with knowledge that works and our deep love for knowledge that constantly and relentlessly moves people from good to great”.
Please click here to read Prof Tinyiko Maluleke’s tribute to Dr Musa Nkuna.