South African cellist Abel Selaocoe explores the capacity of the cello across a plethora of genres, from collaborating with beatboxers, world musicians to giving concerto performances and solo classical recitals. He is currently on the International Artist Diploma course at RNCM studying under world-renowned cellist Hannah Roberts with the support of Allan and Nesta Ferguson Charitable Trust and the Jellis Bequest.
Abel has worked as a soloist with numerous orchestras throughout South Africa. He has played a wide range of concerto repertoire with Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic, Johannesburg Philharmonic and Randburg Symphony Orchestra. He has recently played his Bridgewater Hall debut, one of the most prestigious concert halls in Europe, playing Tim Garland’s Cello and Saxophone Concerto. Abel performed the Schumann Cello Concerto with Sheffield Philharmonic Orchestra and will premier Adam Gorb’s Cello concerto with The Great Britain National Youth Ensemble. He recently received a praising review from endnotes on his concerto debut at Cadogan Hall playing the Elgar Cello concerto, saying "not just a proficient player of the cello, but a virtuoso”.
Abel gave a solo performance of Britten’s Cello Suite at the Westminster Abbey Cathedral as part of their St Cecelia Festival. Also improvising solo at Oxford Chamber Music Festival and O/mordent festival in Sweden. He has performed recitals as Standard Bank Young Artist and concerto with Cape town Philharmonic.
As an orchestral musician he has worked with the Britten Pears Young Artist programme, recording numerous award winning CD’s of Britten’s works. He has also appeared with Multi-Story Orchestra working closely with cellist Matthew Barley to make classical music accessible for a diverse audience and playing in the BBC Proms. Abel is on the extras list of The BBC Philharmonic Orchestra and has performed at King’s Cross with O/mordent orchestra.
Abel is a keen chamber musician; He made his Wigmore Hall debut working with composer Colin Matthews on his String Quartets. He is also been part of the quartet of piece touring South Africa and the UK. Abel has collaborated with a music organisation called Multi Story curating and performing a series of chamber music concerts from Maurice Ravel to George Crumb for a diverse audience in a multi-storey car park in Peckham, London. He is interested in collaborating with musicians from other genres such as Tim Garland (jazz saxophonist in Chick Corea’s band) and Gwilym Simcock (pianist playing regularly with Pat Metheny). He has played with 12 ensemble at Montreux jazz festival working with Max Richter. He has played with Chineke! at the Royal Festival Hall and Royal Albert Hall.
As an improviser Abel is the co-founder of BBC Introducing artists’ world-folk-fusion quintet Kabantu. Kabantu plays across the UK in many festivals such as Fishguard, Ulverston International Music Festivals, Aldeburgh Festival and the BBC Proms Late Night Concert at the Albert Hall broadcast on BBC Radio 3. They have played in prestigious venues such as the Royal Albert Hall, Sage Gateshead, Bridgewater Hall and Band on the Wall. Having recently released their debut album “of the people” they have received a 4 star review from the Guardian Newspaper describing their music as “immaculate”.
Abel has been a recipient of various awards: winner of the Standard Bank Young Artists Award 2016/2017, winner of RNCM Gold Medal, Worshipful Musicians Company Silver Medal award, winner of the Sir John Barbarolli prize (UK) and RNCM Concerto Prize. He has also been awarded the John Hosier and Biddy Baxter Award with Sir Simon Rattle as patron. He is grateful to Help Musicians UK for making him the recipient of the Suggia Gift, Karl Motesiczky Scholarship.
"Abel is a truly unique musician, whose musical voice is as heartfelt and honest as they come. This humanity, coupled with his immense technical facility as a cellist - and singer - makes him an absolute joy to listen to and to make music with."
- Gwilym Simcock (jazz pianist)
"Abel is a special musician, fantastic cellist, everything he plays - from baroque to contemporary - sounds beautiful, improviser, singer with an intense and magical voice. When I heard him it was so strong that I thought it was a tale about the world. Then I realised, Abel is a beautiful person with a deep soul, that's why his music is so beautiful."
- Giovanni Sollima