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Updated: In Memoriam: Composer Shaun Naidoo (1962 – 2012)

I’ll be up front about this: I didn’t know Shaun very well, but every time I met him at a show he seemed incredibly nice and willing to talk with just about anyone, and his music always impressed me. What’s Next? Ensemble recently gave a performance of his opera Nigerian Spam, and while I wasn’t able to make the concert, I heard it was a resounding success. I was hoping to interview Shaun one of these days, and it’s a very small misfortune that I won’t be able to, when compared to the loss that his loved ones are feeling, and to the loss of an important member of our city’s musical culture.

I was informed of Shaun’s death through an email from Catherine Uniack, executive director of Piano Spheres, which read as follows:

Piano Spheres is greatly saddened by the news of the sudden death of composer Shaun Naidoo and wishes to acknowledge him as a friend and creative collaborator for our series.  His loss will be keenly felt by those who experienced the vitality and beauty of his compositions, the impact of his teaching and the wicked wit with which he negotiated the world.  We express our sincere sympathy for all those whose lives were intimately touched by his presence as we pay tribute to his multi-faceted contributions to contemporary musical life in Los Angeles and in the international sphere.  We bid you a loving farewell, Shaun…

More of Shaun’s music, along with his biography, photos, and the like, are available at If anyone has a memory they would like posted here, please email me at, or leave a message in the comments.

Update, July 5

Harpist and blogger Charissa Barger emailed me with this remembrance, along with a video of Jeff Cogan performing Diaraby, one of Naidoo’s last works, at What’s Next? Ensemble’s June 1 concert:

It also seems that Shaun’s website has been taken down. If anyone knows where we can continue to hear his music, please drop me a line.

1 Comment

  1. mrfrankenstein on 03/14/2015 at 8:24 PM

    I’m sad to hear of his death. I’m writing a firsthand account of my own experiences as activist/playwright/performer in South Africa, and I’m covering my early Grahamstown Arts Festivals – and I went online to check the spelling of his name. I first met Shaun in around ’87. I was the probably the only ‘member of the public’ at an art/film exhibition he was part of called ‘Monumentality.’ I just happened to be passing by the edge of Rhodes campus one night and saw a sign and went in to a faculty on a whim. That was the first time I encountered him. He was subsequently always friendly when our paths crossed. But I recall that cold night and stumbling into this odd exhibition with accompanying sound, and even then, being struck by how full of a sense of purpose he was.