Tebogo Monnakgotla (photo: Elin, Model House)
Tebogo Monnakgotla (photo: Elin, Model House)

Tebogo Monnakgotla

Tebogo Monnakgotla is often inspired by poetry. Her music has a scent of French impressionism with a rich color palette that is both surprising and effective.

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Tebogo Monnakgotla, born in 1972 in Uppsala, began her musical career as a cellist. But it was at the School of Music in Piteå, where she had Jan Sandström as a teacher of composition, that she decided to become a composer. She has since studied composition at the Conservatory in The Hague and at the Royal College of Music in Stockholm for, among others, Louis Andriessen, Pär Lindgren and Bent Sørensen.

Tebogo Monnakgotla is often inspired by poetry, and she has set texts by Li Li, Göran Malmqvist, Derek Walcott, Ann Jäderlund, Oliveira Silveira and others to music. The song cycle Bambu i björkars språk (Bamboo in the Language of Birches), to lyrics by Li Li, was chosen as "Recommended work" by the International Rostrum of Composers in 2006.

In a number of works, Monnakgotla has been inspired by the life and poetry of the Malagasy poet Jean-Joseph Rabearivelo, such as Naissance de jour I and II which was premiered by the Swedish Radio Choir and the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, respectively, in 2009 when Tebogo Monnakgotla was Composer-in-Residence at the Swedish Radio  P2 (2007-2009), as well as in the acclaimed short opera Jean-Joseph, which was staged at the Royal Opera in 2016, and was nominated for the Nordic Council Music Prize. Rabearivelo's poems also form the basis of the song cycle Un clin d’oeil (2018), a joint commission between the Swedish Chamber Orchestra, Gävle Symphony Orchestra and Norrköping Symphony Orchestra.

Several of these works were premiered by the South African baritone Luthando Qave, who was also one of the soloists in Monnakgotla's first full evening opera Zebran (The Zebra), to a libretto by Kerstin Perski, which was staged in 2021 at Vadstena Castle.

During the season 21/22, Tebogo Monnakgotla is Composer-in-Residence with Jönköping's Sinfonietta. Then the song cycle Den försvunna, to a text by Balsam Karam, and the saxophone concerto Gaea, written for Johannes Thorell, will be premiered.

Tebogo Monnakgotla was awarded the Carin Malmlöf-Forssling Prize in 2017. The motivation reads as follows: "Tebogo Monnakgotla's intelligent musicality and prescence, shines through in her contemporary anchored tonal language, with a color palette that is both surprising and effective. With a natural lyrical vein, she likes to explore the extremes of beauty and ugliness – from which something new and very thought-provoking is born. "