Eugene Skeef is a South African percussionist, composer, poet, educationalist and workshop leader and has lived in London since 1980. He also works in conflict resolution, acts as a consultant on cultural development, teaches creative leadership and is a broadcaster. In 2003 he founded Umoya Creations, a charity set up to facilitate this international work. As a young activist he worked alongside the anti-apartheid leader Steve Biko and co-led a nation-wide literacy campaign teaching in schools, colleges and communities across South Africa. As well as being at the forefront of the contemporary music scene collaborating with innovative artists, he has also been instrumental in developing the education programmes of some of the major classical orchestras in the United Kingdom.
Eugene is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and has served on the board of directors of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO). He is on the advisory committee of Sound Junction, the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music’s award-winning interactive multimedia educational project. In September 2004 he was appointed musician in residence of the Purcell School of Music. In March 2005 Eugene performed with his Abantu Ensemble at Buckingham Palace and was presented to the Queen as part of the historic Music Day to celebrate the diversity of culture in Britain.
In June 2008 Eugene and Richard Bissill’s Excite!, an orchestral commission by the LPO, premiered at the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre, London. Eugene is the Artistic Director of Quartet of Peace, an international project initiated by Brian Lisus, the South African luthier who has made a quartet of string instruments in honour of South Africa’s 4 Nobel peace laureates, Dr. Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and FW de Klerk. Quartet of Peace uses music to bring about peaceful resolutions to conflict and poverty, with a special focus on young people.
In 2010 Eugene’s collaborative project The Battle of the Wordsmiths (with writer Tunde Olatunji and producers Blue Hippo Media) was shortlisted for the PRS NewMusic Award.
As he prepares to return permanently to South Africa, Eugene has begun a programme of taking his skills to the country of his birth, where his ideas are regarded as beneficial to the process of embracing the ever-unfolding vision of a democratically cohesive nation.