History of African Composers Edition

African Composers Edition — ACE — was founded in 2012 by Christine Lucia while she was Extraordinary Professor in the Department of Music at the University of Stellenbosch. (See African Composers Edition: About the Editor.) Her initial aim in establishing this imprint was to produce a Complete Critical Edition of the works of Sotho composer Joshua Pulumo Mohapeloa (1908-1982). Dr Lucia’s interest in Mohapeloa began in 1989 and after she met the composer’s daughter-in-law, Mrs Ntsiuoa Joyce Mohapeloa in 2006 she made her first visit to Lesotho, where the composer was born and where he spent most of his life. (See Mohapeloa: Biography.)

Road from Maseru to Morija, October 2006
Road from Maseru to Morija, October 2006

With the assistance of research funding from the Southern African Music Rights Organisation (SAMRO) she began preliminary research into the music, the sources, and the composer. She found 130 works already published in tonic solfa notation and a few that existed in manuscript. In 2009 with an award from the Bellagio Rockefeller Foundation Dr Lucia began the work of transcribing these scores into staff notation; and in the same year she engaged the services of a Sesotho linguist, Dr Mantoa Rose Smouse, to begin the task of translating the song lyrics, authored by Mohapeloa. Between 2010 and 2012 Lucia made several more trips to Lesotho and located other published and unpublished scores, bringing the total found so far to 185. She has also established the existence of further titles that have not yet been located as scores. Lucia’s research on Mohapeloa’s scores is paralleled by work on historic recordings supported by a grant from the National Arts Council of South Africa. The establishment of the online critical edition was partly sponsored by the University of Stellenbosch and translation work was completed with the help of Mrs Mpho Ndebele.

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