South African cellist Abel Selaocoe has established himself as a leading voice of reimagining classical music. Redefining the parameters of the cello, he moves seamlessly across a plethora of genres and styles, from collaborations with world and jazz musicians, to concertos and solo performances. Selaocoe combines virtuosic performance with improvisation, singing and body percussion, and is devoted to composing works and curating programmes that highlight the links between Western and non-Western musical traditions, broadening the horizons of classical music to reach a more diverse audience. In 2023 he was awarded the RPS Instrumentalist Award for his performances and collaborations which "blaze with creation, sending audiences home on a high".
Selaocoe thrives in exploratory settings, developing new projects with contemporaries, and enjoys close collaborations with musicians from a medley of genres, including Bernhard Schimpelsberger, Seckou Keita, Manchester Collective, Giovanni Sollima, Dudù Kouaté and Nduduzo Makhathini. In 2016, Selaocoe formed Chesaba – a trio specialising in music from the African continent, including many of his own compositions – and in 2022 formed the Bantu Ensemble who perform his music widely.
Selaocoe is Artistic Partner of The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Artist in Association with both the BBC Singers and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, performing with each several times across the season. Selaocoe also continues to perform his solo cello concerto Four Spirits widely in 2023/24 with performances with the Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra at EFG London Jazz Festival, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Philharmonie Zuidnederlands.
In 2023/24 he will make his debut at Edinburgh International Festival, Wiener Konzerthaus, Luxembourg Philharmonie, Konzerthaus Berlin, Caramoor and with Sphinx Virtuosi, alongside returns to Carnegie Hall, Hamburg Elbphilharmonie, de Singel Antwerp, Britten Sinfonia and tours to the US with Manchester Collective and UK and Europe with his Bantu Ensemble.
Selaocoe completed his International Artist Diploma at the Royal Northern College of Music in July 2018. In May 2021, he was announced as an inaugural Power Up Music Creator participant in PRS Foundation’s new initiative to address anti-Black racism and racial disparities in the music sector and in July 2021, he received a Paul Hamlyn Foundation award for his compositional work.
Abel Selaocoe is an exclusive recording artist with Warner Classics.
Selaocoe formed the Bantu Ensemble in 2022, touring his debut album Hae Ke Kae to Amsterdam's Concertgebouw, London's Southbank Centre, Berlin Philharmonie, Kölner Philharmonie and deSingel Antwerp amongst others.
A flexible and evolving ensemble, their core members are Alan Keary (bass), Dudù Kouaté (percussion) and Fred Thomas (piano). Bantu Ensemble perform and improvise around Selaocoe's own original material alongside works Baroque composers including Giovanni Platti and J.S. Bach.
Selaocoe Ibuyile iAfrica
Platti Cello Sonata No. 7 in D Major (excerpts)
Selaocoe Ka Bohaleng
Bach Cello Suite No. 3 in C, Prelude and Sarabande
Selaocoe Ancestral Affirmations
In 2016, Selaocoe formed Chesaba – a trio specialising in music from the African continent, including many of his own compositions - with Alan Keary (bass) and Sidiki Dembélé (percussion). Chesaba's shows are based in improvisation and original music which develops within the trio.
Chesaba also perform Selaocoe's own material with orchestras and have performed with BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the BBC Proms, Lucerne Symphony Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and regularly collaborate with Manchester Collective.