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Proceeds from lecturer’s debut CD will fund a worthy cause

by Gerrit Bester

Most academic staff members working at TUT’s Faculty of Arts and Design are also practicing artists in their respective disciplines, thereby enhancing the quality of Art students’ learning experience. One such staff member is Dr Roland Moses, senior lecturer at the Department of Performing Arts (Music) and accomplished Jazz pianist, who will be releasing his first CD, Paths of Light, on 21 May. All proceeds from sales of the CD will fund music instruments for a worthy school community project.

TELL US MORE ABOUT THE INSPIRATION FOR THE ALBUM AND THE MUSIC FEATURED ON IT. The album, Paths of Light, is a trio recording and features bassist, Peter Sklair, and drummer, Rob Watson. Sonic creativity and entrancing improvisations explore the balance between rhythmic density, melodic intervention, and harmonic progression. The recording embodies a form of storytelling that conjures imaginary scenic views which suggest colour, tone, shape, and texture. It was inspired by my interactions and performance experiences with various talented musicians. It showcases and documents my original compositions spanning 20 years. These compositions encompass music collaborations, life experiences, and a variety of music styles, including Swing, Latin Jazz, Jazz-Fusion, and South African Jazz styles.

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE TO PRODUCE, AND WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES, IF ANY? It was recorded in 2010 but a major challenge was funding to cover the recording fees, studio time, mixing and mastering, musician fees, and CD production.

My aim is to donate proceeds from the sales of the CD to fund a music project, which means that I will not receive any remuneration for the actual recording fees or other costs involved. I was the recipient of a Concerts SA grant in April 2022 which has allowed me the opportunity to get momentum on this project.

Other challenges were time constraints as producing a CD is an intense process, whilst fulfilling my academic duties, research, concerts for performance output, and family commitments. Design, performance rights, copyright clearance, and CD manufacturing are also part of the process that requires time and administrative aspects.

YOU ARE A LECTURER, BUT ALSO PERFORM ON A REGULAR BASIS. HOW IMPORTANT IS IT, IN ADDITION TO YOUR LECTURING RESPONSIBILITIES, TO ALSO REMAIN ACTIVE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY? It is imperative to be involved in industry as it directs and informs teaching practice, curriculum design, and industry relevance. Drawing on industry experience, as performing and recording artists, we are able to enhance the student’s learning experience and training to be practitioners in the music field. By combining the theoretical with practical approach and real-life experiences, the teaching and learning model is transformed into a praxis-oriented model. Students feel a level of confidence knowing their lecturers are also performing musicians, and that the knowledge we are sharing is not based only on theory. Furthermore, being a performer lends insight into the current performance landscape and encourages students to be creative, visionary, and entrepreneurial during the pandemic when performance opportunities and spaces are severely impacted. As an official accompanist for many of the national and international Jazz competitions, I am able to mentor students to participate in these competitions. As a result, a few TUT students have won some of these competitions.

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR OWN MUSICAL STYLE? My musical style is mainly steeped in Jazz and influenced by various global cultural exchanges and musical experiences. My style has also been influenced by my Jazz studies at Gothenburg University in Sweden and masterclasses with practitioners from the Amsterdam Conservatory, Berklee College of Music, and Northern Illinois University.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE MUSIC GENRES, AND WHY? I enjoy listening to all music genres and am influenced by their harmonic, rhythmic, and melodic elements. These include African music rhythms, the melodic complexity of Indian music, the expressive nature and social commentary of Jazz, social commentary, and textures of World music.

WHAT WOULDN’T ONE CATCH YOU LISTEN TO? I listen to all styles of music, but favorites are Indian music, South African music, and mainstream Jazz. I am open to listening to genres that I wouldn’t ordinarily listen to so that I can get a feel for what is appealing to different listeners.

WHO ARE YOUR MUSIC IDOLS, AND WHY? Mainly Jazz instrumentalists like Herbie Hancock, Brad Mehldau, Michael Brecker, and the late Bheki Mseleku. Their creativity, virtuoso prowess, and ability to transverse different music styles is inspirational. I also enjoy the music of Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder.

YOU HAVE COLLABORATED AND/PERFORMED WITH BIG NAMES IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY IN THE PAST. PLEASE SHARE SOME NAMES. I have performed at numerous local and international Jazz festivals, including the Joy of Jazz, Awesome Africa, North Sea Jazz Festival – Cape Town, Holland, KKNK, Macufe, UNISA Jazz Festival, Samui Jazz International (Thailand), Jazz on V (Bangkok), Amersfoort (Netherlands), Festival Kreol/Laserenade Enternasyonal de Victoria (Seychelles), among others.

I have also presented masterclasses, lectures, and solo concerts at Berklee College of Music (Boston, USA), Stockton University (New Jersey, USA), and the University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, USA).

In addition, I have recorded as sideman on numerous albums, most notably, Kevin Davidson’s – ‘Breathing Winston, Living John’, Peter Auret’s Trio Album, Mateo Mera (Uruguay), and Ziza Muftic (Croatia).

Moreover, I have performed with South Afrian musicians Feya Faku, Zim Nqgawana, Brian Thusi, Johnny Fourie, and Venezuelan musicians, Leonard Jacome (Harp), Eddy Marcano (Violin), Fabrizzio Savino (Italy), Emmanuel Cisi (Italy), Mr Koh Saxman (Thailand), Mateo Mera (Uruguay), Aardvark and Paul van Kemenade (Netherlands), and many others.

I have also developed and facilitated several community music projects and conducted music literacy workshops in Kwa-Zulu Natal and Gauteng.

I have adjudicated numerous national and international music competitions and was a judge for the Jazz category at the 2015 SAMA awards. I am a YAMAHA artist and represented South Africa in Japan at the recent YAMAHA-GULF study excursion.

ALL PROCEEDS FROM SALES OF THE CD WILL FUND MUSIC INSTRUMENTS FOR YOUR COMMUNITY MUSIC PROJECT AT THE NOKUPHILA SCHOOL IN THEMBISA. TELL US MORE ABOUT THIS PROJECT, AND YOUR INVOLVEMENT. The Love Trust is a South African Not for Profit Organisation (NPO) with a vision to nurture future generations of servant leaders. It was founded in 2009 with a conviction to bring hope through education by providing vulnerable children with quality Christian education and social care that includes academic excellence, spiritual strength, and moral integrity. The Love Trust, (incorporating Nokuphila School) is determined to deliver measurable impact in the communities they serve.

Nokuphila School opened its doors in 2010 to 45 pre-school children from Thembisa, a large township facing high unemployment, crime, child abuse, and poverty. The level of education in Thembisa, particularly in pre-school education, is at this stage considerably ineffective and under-resourced. Children at Nokuphila School are admitted based on their vulnerability and willingness of their caregivers to participate actively in the school life of their children. 90% of school fees are paid by donors and the parents pay a small fee.

I recently partnered with the Love Trust and YAMAHA to develop and facilitate a music programme at the school. The Nokuphila School is linked to the church that I attend and could, later on, serve as the training grounds for developing musicians. The school has previously not had a formal music education programme. I consulted with the school principal and Love Trust director in November 2021 and facilitated a music programme for Grade 3 and 4 learners in 2022. I developed a needs, stakeholder, and risks analysis together with an action plan for a three-year sustainable music programme. From January to March 2022, YAMAHA donated 40 recorders and books and trained 40 teachers to read music, play recorders, and teach Grade 3 and 4 learners. These lessons took place once a week at the school. Twelve teachers were then selected to teach the Grade 3 and 4 learners. The music programme will be launched on 18 May 2022. This is a pilot project which will be developed and replicated at other schools that cater for vulnerable learners.

I am currently developing a similar music project that will take place at another Love Trust school in the Cape Flats. A quantitative research tool is being developed that will assess the socio-emotional impact of instrumental music learning on economically disadvantaged South African learners. Other collaborators include Prof James Ford (California State University), and Prof Karen Devroop (UNISA).

THE LAUNCH WILL TAKE PLACE AT THE WORLD OF YAMAHA THEATRE IN SANDTON, JOHANNESBURG. WHAT IS PLANNED FOR THE LAUNCH? I received a concert grant from SA concerts, the Norwegian Embassy Pretoria, and IKS consulting to perform and record my original compositions. It will feature a concert by my trio with two of South Africa’s finest musicians, Peter Sklair (bass), and Rob Watson (drums). We will perform my original compositions and arrangements. The concert will be recorded and live streamed at a later date.

WHERE CAN PEOPLE BUY THE ALBUM? It will be available on most digital stores soon and you can purchase a copy directly from me at or my Website (Cost is R150).

ANYTHING THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD? Having grown up with no access to formal music education, I fully appreciate the impact this music programme will have on the lives of these young learners. I grew up in Phoenix, an Indian township in Kwa Zulu Natal, and the poor socio-economic conditions and low household income in the township did not allow me and others like myself access to formal music education. Owning a music instrument and attending formal music lessons were perceived as a luxury when most residents were working-class and barely survived on their living wage. I was the recipient of a study bursary and was able to pursue a music degree at tertiary level.

My dream has always been that formal music training is accessible to all children, regardless of their socio-economic backgrounds, and to help make this possible in my country, South Africa

PHOTO CAPTIONS: Dr Roland Moses, senior lecturer at the Department of Performing Arts (Music), will be releasing his first CD, Paths of Light, on 21 May.

To listen to two clips featured on the album, please click on:

Lynne’s Valentine -

Dr Moses performing at the YAMAHA headquarters in Japan.

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