Spotlight: Abel Selaocoe

As part of our BBC Proms 2021 curation, we’re shining a light on South African cellist, Abel Selaocoe, who will be performing at the Royal Albert Hall alongside Simo Lagnawi on Sunday 15 August.

Maya Radcliffe
  • By Maya Radcliffe
  • 11 Aug 2021
  • min read

This month on M Magazine, we’re celebrating the long-awaited return of the BBC Proms to the Royal Albert Hall

Today we're shining a light on genre-bending musician and Power Up Network grantee Abel Selaocoe, whose Proms performance Africa Meets Europe will take place this Sunday 15 August.

Blending traditional playing styles with improvisation, singing and body percussion, his performances bring together classical and world music in a unique fusion. He will be joined on Sunday by Simo Lagnawi on guembri (the three-stringed Moroccan lute) and by other members of his own trio, Chesaba, as well as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales for a concert covering typically broad musical ground.

Read all about him.


Abel Selaocoe


Genre-defying cellist

From where?

South Africa

What’s the story?

South African cellist Abel Selaocoe is redefining the parameters of the cello. He moves seamlessly across a plethora of genres and styles, from collaborations with world musicians and beatboxers, to concerto performances and solo classical recitals. Abel combines virtuosic performance with improvisation, singing and body percussion, and has a special interest in curating recital programmes that highlight the links between Western and non-Western musical traditions, with view to helping classical music reach a more diverse audience. Abel is an advocate for music being inclusive for all and speaks passionately about accessibility of classical music and dissolving genres.

Having completed his International Artist Diploma at the Royal Northern College of Music in July 2018, Abel has already performed extensively across the UK, at venues including Cadogan Hall, Royal Albert Hall, Sage Gateshead, and Bridgewater Hall. He has appeared as soloist with orchestras including BBC Philharmonic and BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and has performed with orchestras across South Africa, including Kwa-Zulu Natal, Johannesburg and Cape Town Philharmonics.

It was announced yesterday (10 August) that Selaocoe has signed with Warner Classics. Speaking on his latest career move, Abel said: ’I am so excited to be joining the Warner Music family. A great home where my love for African and Classical music can live in one space. Many adventures ahead. Makwande!’ He hints at the philosophy behind the preparation of his debut recording, ’A music about learning to understand different ways we seek refuge, not always a place of comfort but one of empowerment that allows potential to live a fulfilled life’ 

Sounds like?

A stunningly executed fusion of classical and world music.

Predicted to?

Mesmerise the masses this Sunday with his energised performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

Must hear?

Ka Bohaleng performed alongside the BBC Concert Orchestra and Chesaba at London Jazz Festival.