The Man

"Listening to Surendran Reddy is like watching an ice block melt in a microwave. The man is hot!"

This is what The Cape Times had to say about the piano player who at the age of 14 was already hailed as a kind of child prodigy. At 15 he won a scholarship which took him to the Royal College of Music in London, graduating with an ARCM (harpsichord major) at the age of 16 and 3 years later with a BMus (Hons.) in Musicology. Before he began his studies at the RCM he had already passed with distinction his LTCL and LRCM diplomas in piano playing, the exceptionally high marks which he attained for the latter granting him automatic access to an Associated Board scholarship without the customary entrance examination. He then became at the age of 15 one of the youngest fellows of the Trinity College, London, also for piano performance.

After his sojourn at the RCM he became a post- graduate student at King's College (London University) continuing his musicological research under the guidance of such legendary scholars as Brian Trowell, Reinhard Strom, Pierluigi Petrobelli and Thomas Walker (all significant contributors to The New Grove Dictionary of Music), amongst a host of others.

He left London in order to return to South Africa on receiving an invitation to take up a lecturing post there, at the tender age of 19. In addition to the paper qualifications he gained during his study period in London he also won a number of awards, prizes, competitions and further scholarships. While still a student he had opportunities to perform at London's Wigmore Hall, St Martin-in-the-Fields and Queen Elizabeth Hall.

After returning to South Africa he taught at the University of Durban-Westville, joined NAPAC as resident pianist and then became Head of the Music Department at FUBA Academy of Music in Johannesburg at which he became the first music teacher of the celebrated but sadly deceased pianist Moses Molelekwa.

He played with all the major orchestras in South Africa and got to work with international artists such as Kiri Te Kanawa and the Harlem Dance Company amongst others. He has also played with numerous South African stars such as Sibongile Khumalo, Allen Kwela and Johnny Fourie.

As a composer he has often been commissioned to compose pieces for national and international competitions. His works have been performed in South Africa, Great Britain, U.S.A., Canada, Germany, France, Belgium, Russia and New Zealand amongst others. Reid Anderson, Artistic Director of the Stuttgart Ballet and the world's foremost exponent of John Cranko's ballets choreographed his "Four Romantic Piano Pieces" which became a hit of the Alberta Ballet in 1989. In 1996 SAMRO commissioned Surendran together with six other composers each to write a movement of a larger oratorio dealing with issues arising out of the Human Right's Treaty and intended as a gift from South Africa to the Olympic Games held at Atlanta in that year. His movement is entitled "Masakane" (Let Us Build Together) and the orchestral version of the piece was premiered on March 23, 2000 by the KZNPO in Durban.

Surendran has also written jingles for Radio and TV and worked as musical director for numerous shows. He has recorded extensively for the South African Broadcasting Corporation and worked on a number of albums including his two solo CDs: ‘Reddy, Steady, Go!’ and ‘Rough 'n Reddy’. At the release of the latter CD he devised the term "clazz" to describe his own unique brand of fusion - a heady mixture of classical and jazz styles - with practically everything else thrown in as well, for which he has formulated ten defining principles. Amongst his compositions students and numerous fans his stylistic concept clazz is becoming increasingly acknowledged as a music genre in its own right, in an age where classical, jazz and world musics have been moving closer together within a non-exploitative, mutually respectful and wholly international context.

His fusion band Channel 18 - comprising himself on piano and keyboards, Bruce Cassidy on EVI, Denis Lalouette on bass and Rob Watson on drums and featuring his own jazz compositions - has performed frequently all over South Africa. One of his projects in Germany was a duo called "Campaign for Real Time" in which he collaborated with German composer / keyboardist Andreas Apitz in a programme featuring their own works at the "Frankfurter Musikmesse".

In the last few years Surendran lived in Konstanz, Germany and worked as a freelance composer, pianist and music educator.