THE FIRST BLACK SOUTH AFRICAN WOMEN TO OWN AND CONDUCT AN ORCHESTRA.

Ofentse Pitse from Pretoria, Mabopane township became the first black woman in the world to own and conduct an all black orchestra. She began playing an instrument when she was twelve years old. Her mother was always supportive of her endeavours despite the fact that she grew up in a single-parent family.

Over time as she gained more experience in the classical music world she realised that there was no all-black orchestra and so she decided to start her own. She became enamoured with the sounds she heard there and was exposed to a wide variety of music, spanning from gospel to jazz. She also gives credit to her grandfather, believing that she is his reincarnation. People have expressed their admiration for a female orchestra conductor.

In 2017, Pitse started a youth choir for which she handpicked youth that were classically trained from Soweto, Katlehong, Tembisa and Pretoria. Pitse’s grandfather, Otto, was a jazz musician who died when she was two years old, and she believes they were soul mates. “Our clan has an elephant spirit (Tlou), and I believe I have absorbed its power.”Pitse understands what it takes to overcome challenges, as she has stated in several interviews, “I am a believer in the black narrative and a believer in the black child.”

By: Khensani Khoza.

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