Pretoria – The first black South African woman to own and conduct an all-black orchestra, Ofentse Pitse, has placed South Africa on the map with her musical talent.
She is the youngest African woman orchestra owner, conductor, classical music arranger, producer, musician and curator of intimate musically inspired/influenced spaces and experiences. – Zelda Venter
Pitse was inspired and raised to revere education by her mother and grandmother. Education has continued to be a core value and practice for Pitse, who graduated with a Masters of Architecture from Wits Univeristy in honour of her late mother, Pearl Matshidiso Pitse.
A lover of all things art, Africa, and people, Pitse has managed to masterfully create a brand that truly reflects her core values, character, people and heart – all vital ingredients for a history-making change agent and rising influential cultural voice and a key player in the orchestral world.
Born and raised in Mabopane, Pretoria, it was in the vibrant streets of the this city that Pitse first discovered and developed her deep love for music.
With a family active in the Salvation Army, Pitse soon found her way to its famous brass band, where she learnt to play the English horn, trumpet, flugelhorn and cornet. As her skill improved, so did her range, and she expanded her repertoire from gospel music to classical and jazz.
Under the mentorship and tutelage of two of the country’s leading conductors, Thami Zungu and Gerben Grooten, Pitse transitioned from a musician into her current role as an orchestra conductor and owner of Anchored Sound, a 40-piece orchestra and 25-strong choir.
“I want to drive inclusivity because it’s hard for women to belong in a boardroom or a sound stage. As a black woman, I have had to learn how to assert myself in male-dominated environments and defend my work and dreams.
“This is what fuels my vision, my purpose, and my birthright. I want my presence in this space to encourage women who look like me and feel they don’t belong to see that they can, they do, and they must. There is no limit to our potential, capacity, and creativity,” she said.
Pitse placed South Africa squarely on the world map when she was recommended as one of a handful women of colour conductors in the world, to work on a secret project for Netflix, celebrating an international singer and the 20-year anniversary of one of her songs.
The singer turned out to be Alicia Keys and the song was If I Ain’t Got You, which was going to be a part of the Shondaland production, Queen Charlotte.
Pitse was then “interviewed” by Keys to see if she would be a right fit for the project. This was a huge success and she received confirmation that she had been chosen to orchestrate and be a part of the concept for the reimagined orchestral version of the song. To top it all, it was with an all women of colour ensemble.
The song was recorded in London in April at Air Studios, with the music video being shot later that month in England’s capital city.
At the same time, Pitse was approached by Pitch Black to be a part of the Netflix Africa promo, where she was tasked with reimagining 2Face’s classic, African Queen, featuring Msaki from South Africa, Nikita from Kenya and Fave from Nigeria.
The song was recorded on April 3 with the vocals being recorded with the song performed live at the South African premiere of Queen Charlotte at Quoin Rock in Stellenbosch.
The video was shot on Table Mountain and Miller’s Point in the Cape.