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  • South African cellist Abel Selaocoe is redefining the parameters of the cello. He moves seamlessly across a plethora of genres and styles, from collaborations with world musicians and beatboxers, to concerto performances and solo classical recitals. Abel combines virtuosic performance with improvisation, singing and body percussion, and has a special interest in curating recital programmes that highlight the links between Western and non-Western musical traditions, with view to helping classical music reach a more diverse audience.

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  • Having completed his International Artist Diploma at the Royal Northern College of Music in July 2018, Abel has already performed extensively across the UK, at venues including Cadogan Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Sage Gateshead, and Bridgewater Hall. He has appeared as soloist with orchestras including BBC Philharmonic and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and has performed with orchestras across South Africa, including Kwa-Zulu Natal, Johannesburg and Cape Town Philharmonics.

    Selaocoe is a keen chamber musician, having made his Wigmore Hall debut in 2013 with composer Colin Matthews. He is the co-founder of BBC Introducing ensemble Kabantu, and in 2016 formed Chesaba – a trio specializing in music from the African continent, including compositions by Abel. He has enjoyed close collaborations with musicians from a medley of genres, including Tim Garland, Seckou Keita, Giovanni Sollima, Gwilym Simcock, and 12ensemble. In recent seasons, Abel has curated programmes at Kings Place, the Aldeburgh & Oxford Chamber Music Festivals, and has performed in both the Late Night BBC Proms, and BBC Proms Extra series.

    In the 2019/20 season Selaocoe will make a number of world premieres including Sir Karl Jenkin’s new Miserere (a passion for our time), and Barak Schmool’s African Concerto with Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra and conductor Jung-Ho Pak in January 2020. Selaocoe’s orchestral engagements include Philharmonia Orchestra, Sinfonia Cymru, Manchester Concert Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Selaocoe returns to EFG London Jazz Festival for multiple performances, including a performance at Kings Place with percussionist Bernhard Schimpelsberger, and joining Art Ensemble of Chicago as guest soloist at the Barbican Centre to celebrate the ensemble’s 50th anniversary.

    Abel has recently been selected for Serious Music’s Take Five - a development scheme for the UK’s most talented jazz composer-performers, and has been the recipient of multiple awards, including the Standard Bank Young Artists Award and the Sir Karl Jenkins Award in association with Classic FM. He is grateful to Help Musicians UK for awarding him the Karl Motesiczky Scholarship.

    2019/20 season | 401 words. Not to be altered without permission.


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Chesaba is an electrifying trio of African celebration - an eclectic blend of ’cello, kora, n’goni, African percussion, double bass and voice, accompanied by the languages of Bambara, Zulu, Sotho, Tswana and more. Embroidered through the music are improvisations influenced by African, jazz and classical music.

Chesaba has a vibrant and virtuosic rhythmic expression coupled with powerful traditional melodies. The music is made of a raw and colourful blend of African cultures, from Griot music – a tradition spanning centuries of civilisation in West Africa, being passed down through the generations, carrying with it an ancient culture of story-telling and musical celebration – to the soulful South African township music that expresses its powerful history.

As award-winning artists, they have played in prestigious venues and festivals including the Amsterdam Muziekgebouw’s Cello Biennale, WOMAD, Bimhuis, The Bridgewater Hall and Kings Place with Manchester Collective. The trio also has a passion for instilling diversity within its community through education and workshops.


Concerto repertoire

Cello Concerto in B-flat major

Tim Garland
Double Concerto for Cello and Saxophone

Cello Concerto in C major

Cello Concerto in D minor

Cello Concerto in A minor

Cello Concerto in A minor

Cello Concerto No.1 in E Major

Variations on a Rococo Theme


Cello Sonata in A major

Sonata in D minor

Cello Sonata in C major

Sonata in D minor

Sonata in F major

Sonata in A minor

Cello Sonata in D minor


J.S. Bach
Cello Suite No.1 - No.5

Cello Suite No.1

Prayer (from Jewish Life) No.1

Skubek's Delight

Kol Nidre

Song of the Birds

At the Fountain

Salut d'amour

Apres un Reve

Leif Lidström
Lady of Charlotte

Sir James MacMillan
Kiss on Wood

Variations on a Theme of Rossini

Hungarian Rhapsody

Giovanni Sollima

R. Schumann
Adagio and Allegro
, Op.12


Chamber music

J.S. Bach
The Art of Fugue

String Quartet No.1, Op.18

Sextets in B flat and G major

George Crumb
Black Angels

Piano Quintet No.2 in A major
String Quartets No.10 and No.13

Piano Quintet in F minor

Piano Trio No.2
String Quartets

Leif Lidström
Piano Trio No.1

String Quartet No.2

Octet in E-flat major, Op.20
Piano Trio No.1 in D minor

String Quartet

Cello and Bass Duo

Verklärte Nacht

Quintet in C major, Op.163

Piano Trio No.2
String Quartets Nos 7, 8 & 10
Two Pieces for String Octets, Op.11

Eugene Skeef
String Quartet No.1

Souvenir de Florence, Op.70

Sample recital programme

Abel Selaocoe Vukani Bo! (African song about the awakening of a village or greeting song)
Debussy Sonata in D minor for Cello and Piano
Ravel Improvisation on Habanera
Schedrin Improvisation on Albeniz
Abel Selaocoe Di Kae! for Cello and Piano (South African piece about ancestral gratitude)


Britten Sonata for Cello and Piano in C major
Sir James MacMillan Kiss on Wood
Giovanni Sollima (arr. Abel Selaocoe) Lamentatio

Neil Mackinnon
Head of Special Projects (maternity cover)
+44 20 7608 9932

Chloë Wennersten
Artist & Project Manager, imagine (on temporary leave)
+44 20 7608 9923

Elizabeth Ng
Associate Artist & Project Manager, imagine (on temporary leave)
+44 20 7608 9938

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