23/01/2018 14:08 SAST | Updated 23/01/2018 14:53 SAST

Major Festivals, Orchestras And Jazz Groups Honour Masekela

Local artistic stalwarts weigh in on the loss of one of South Africa's music legends.

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Some of the country's most important arts practitioners opened up to HuffPost about their personal memories of late music legend Hugh Masekela, who passed away on Tuesday morning.

Bongani Tembe – CEO and artistic director of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra

"You know, he was a legend – and he appreciated all sorts of music. Some people may not be aware that he studied at the Manhattan School of Music in New York, which is a classical music school. Hugh also performed with my wife, Linda Bukhosini, and since the 1980s we've had this very close relationship.

"He, along with Miriam Makeba and Abdullah Ibrahim, really early on put South African music on the international map. Even though he was fun on stage, he was a very serious musician – and very intelligent. In fact, all musicians, from opera to jazz, owe him a great debt for what he did for South African music.

"During the 1980s we all carried the South African flag high while we were in New York, but our hearts were at home, and then when we were back in South Africa we connected so many times. But we were talking about doing a huge orchestral thing later this year, which we might still do, but it just won't be the same without him."

Ashraf Johaardien - executive producer of the National Arts Festival

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"I have had the privilege of seeing magical Bra Hugh Masekela perform live on several occasions. The first was a performance at the Baxter Theatre in Cape Town on the concert hall stage many years ago. And the most recent was only a few years back in 2014, at the Soweto Theatre when the University of Johannesburg celebrated his 75th birthday by launching an annual lecture, colloquium and concert in his name.

"I also once had the privilege of seeing Miriam Makeba spontaneously break into song, a capella at that, when she was awarded the Arts and Culture Trust Lifetime Achievement Award. Hearing of Bra Hugh's passing today, I am reminded of that particular and extraordinary moment, partly because not many people know that they were married briefly in the sixties – but also because her passing, like Bra Hugh's, marks the crossing over of an icon from the realm of living arts legend to timeless arts icon."

Sibongakonke Mama - programme manager at The Orbit jazz club

"Hugh's passing is an incredible loss to jazz, and an even greater loss generationally. Bra Hugh represents, and was a very much an integral part of an incredible time in jazz history – when local musicians were taking a huge stand against the apartheid regulations and making the story of the resistance heard around the world.

"But whenever a big tree falls, it leaves behind knowledge. All of us were hoping he would make it through, and that we could celebrate him more while he was alive. But we can only hope now that people in jazz circles will be able to make sure that we somehow preserve the histories and heritage of legends like Bra Hugh – all the knowledge and wisdom and great talent of his. We must do all we can to make sure that it is transferred to the next generation."

In Pictures: Life And Times Of Hugh Masekela: The Legend Lives On