Meet Ofentse Pitse, The first Black South African Woman to Conduct and Own an All-Black Orchestra

Ofentse Pitse describes herself as an enthusiast. An enthusiast of art, music and architecture and Africa. She is a creative visionary with a deep desire to showcase the work of Black African Composers, she is also a founder of Anchored Sound, the first-ever fully black owned and operated orchestra on the continent.

Born in Pretoria, it was here in the country’s vibrant capital where Ofentse first discovered her deep and abiding love for music. With a family that was active in the Salvation Army, Ofentse was soon attracted to its famous brass band and this is where she first learned to play the English horn, trumpet, flugelhorn and cornet.

As her skill improved, so did her range she then began expanding her repertoire from gospel music into classical and then to jazz. Today, Ofentse splits her time between her work as an architect, where she is pursuing her artistic vision for African spaces and her central role at Anchored Sound. The latter now boasts an impressive 40-piece orchestra, alongside a 25-person strong choir. In addition, Ofentse has also grown her talent, moving from musician to conductor with the guidance of two of the country’s leading conductors, Thami Zungu and Gerben Grooten, to learn how to effectively take up a place on the podium. Across South Africa Pitse has earned a formidable reputation as the force behind the success of Anchored Sound, whose performers all hail from disenfranchised communities across Gauteng.

Her discipline and commitment in learning how to conduct an orchestra while also managing the day to day running of the organisation has won her admirers across Mzansi, and led to interviews with leading media outlets including Radio 702, eNCA, Drum Magazine, Newzroom Afrika, City Press and the SABC.
Citing her uncle Dr Dannyboy Pitse, the first person in her family to become a doctor as her personal hero, Ofentse says it was his determination to succeed that became the catalyst for her own ambitions.

“To me, music and architecture are very closely linked. When I design, I think of harmony, spirit, structure and meaning. Music is about those same elements, whether it’s Tchaikovsky, Stravinsky, Mozart or Professor Khumalo.”

Yet for all her aspirations, Ofentse is inherently practical in her core beliefs. “I want to drive inclusivity because it’s hard to belong, either in a boardroom or a soundstage. Being a black woman, I have had to learn how to assert myself in male dominated environments, to defend my work. And that is my vision and my purpose. To say to others who feel that they don’t belong, you can, you do, you must. There is no limit to your potential, your capacity, your creativity.”

This article was culled from 

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