Music is an extremely important part of the life and worship of Grahamstown Cathedral.
- Director of Music
- Associate Organist
- Cathedral Choir and Makana Choir School
- Organ Scholars
- Makana Choir School on TV
- Videos and CDs
Kutlwano Kepadisa was appointed Director of Music and Precentor of the Cathedral in January 2021. Kutlwano (known as Kepa) had been acting as Director of Music for some months, and was also in charge of the Cathedral music for two years from 2017-2019, after the departure of Dr Andrew-John Bethke. Trained initially by Dr Bethke as a Choir Intern, Kepa has worked tirelessly to develop his talents as a choir director, and to inspire and bring out the best in the choristers.
Peter Black was appointed Associate Organist of the Cathedral in February 2023. Peter was formerly Cathedral Organist and Master of the Choristers at St Cyprian’s Cathedral, Kimberley. He is now resident in Makhanda, and gives lessons to private pupils in piano, organ, voice and music theory.
Kutlwano Kepadisa rose to the challenges of repeated lock-downs in 2020 and 2021, and the Iimvumi (junior choristers) continued to sing whenever the Cathedral was open for worship. New probationers were recruited and trained, and a scheme initiated by which a small number of musically gifted Rhodes students were selected to be Choral Scholars. These young people can assist and mentor the Iimvumi and probationers, and also join with certain adult singers to form the Cathedral Consort. This group of 8-12 voices sings more advanced music, generally at evening services which take place once or twice a month. After the lifting of the lock-down in mid-2022 the choir was able to resume singing regularly for the morning Eucharist services.
The Makana Choir School offers scholarships towards young people attending local government schools, who are members of the Cathedral Choir. This scholarship scheme is funded by donors, both corporate and individual. Read more…
The Cathedral organ was built by Bevington of London in 1860 and installed in a gallery at the west end of the nave. In 1893, it was moved to its present position above the chancel, and in 1905 “restored and enlarged.” More …
The Makana Choir School is able to offer a modest scholarship towards the academic expenses of a student studying the organ. Jonathan Hughes was an Organ Scholar at the Cathedral from 2020-2022, while studying towards a BMus at Rhodes University, and during the latter part of this time was also Choral Assistant to the Director of Music. He gave up these positions at the end of 2022, in order to concentrate on the fourth and final year of his BMus.
Bayanda Mthetho, who was a member of the Makana Choir School, began piano lessons at the age of 11, and at the age of 15 passed the Grade 8 Trinity piano exam, with the astonishing mark of 97%! The following year, in 2019, he took the Trinity Licentiate in piano, which he passed with Distinction. Bayanda began learning the organ with Dr Andrew-John Bethke while he was Director of Music. After Dr Bethke left, he took organ lessons during 2018 and 2019, and again in 2021, funded through the generosity of a group of private donors. During 2020 he was taught by the then Director of Music, Cameron Luke. Having passed Matric at the end of 2021, Bayanda started his BMus studies at Rhodes University in 2022, and in 2023 transferred to the University of Cape Town.
At present (2023) there is no Organ Scholar at the Cathedral.
This video clip of Bayanda playing part of Bach’s Prelude No 5 in G Major was recorded at a service on 25 November 2018.
Makana Choir School was featured in an episode of the religious programme Slice of Light, which was broadcast on SABC2, on Sunday 5 August 2018. This included short interviews with choir conductor Kutlwano Kepadisa, and two of the junior choir boys at the time, Xolisa Foley and Junaid Douglas. The programme can be downloaded from YouTube.
For more than ten years groups of marimba players took part in Cathedral services. Penny Whitford, an experienced music teacher who retired to Grahamstown from Gauteng, put a great deal of work into training a number of groups of marimba players of all ages. Subsequently the St Michael’s Marimba players, all young people, were taken over and conducted by Asakhe Cuntsulana, a music student at Rhodes, and continued to go from strength to strength. The group performed regularly on the National Arts Festival over more than a decade, and their performances were always popular. Unfortunately since Asakhe relocated to East London, the marimbas have fallen silent, but we are hopeful that a successor will be found to revive this aspect of our music ministry.