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A much-loved figure in South African poetry, Ingrid Jonker’s body of work, though small, continues to speak volumes decades after her death. She delicately and beautifully captured lust, love, heartbreak, anger and the fabric of everyday life in her poems.


Composer and vocalist Nicky Schrire sets André Brink and Antjie Krog's English translations of a selection of Jonker’s works to music in a world that blends folk, cinematic and art song genres. The songs are arranged for voice and string quartet, and the poems are delivered in Afrikaans.

Music composed & arranged by Nicky Schrire

English translations by André Brink & Antjie Krog

(as compiled in “Black Butterflies”)
Borrowed text from letters between Brink & Jonker

translated by Karin Schimke & Leon de Kock

(as published in “Flame in the Snow”)

Past Performances:

2017 Alexander Bar Theatre (debut)

2017 Youngblood Gallery

2018 Franschhoek Literary Festival

2018 Suidoosterfees

2019 Norval Foundation


"Schrire deftly handles Jonker’s work with the sort of reverent fragility which both expands and exquisitely hones in on it."
 Texx and the City


Caged Bird ExcerptVOX
00:00 / 01:31

Hear an excerpt of "Caged Bird" above

Caged Bird (text by Maya Angelou, music by Schrire) was inspired by the melodic simplicity and a cappella beauty of the traditional spiritual. The piece evolves gradually, first delving into the British choral tradition and then building into a contrapuntal, harmonically-rich work that embodies the same joy found in the works of composers such as Bobby McFerrin and Roger Treece.

It was written in 2018 for the Global Call for New Music for Human Rights by the Fondazione Adkins Chiti. They called for female composers around the world to compose a vocal, choral or instrumental work inspired by the struggle for human rights.

While Nicky's work was not chosen by the foundation, she was delighted when Cape Town's VOX choir asked to take on the work, perform it at the Irma Stern Museum, and then record it on their new album "Of Barrels and Blossoms".

The record is available on all online and music streaming platforms.

Caged Bird from SHAKER, WHY DON’T YOU SING? by Maya Angelou. Copyright © 1983 Maya Angelou.

Used by permission of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved.

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