Shannon Mowday

Shannon Mowday (South Africa/Norway)

(Saxophones, clarinets, flutes, penny whistle, piano



South African born performer, composer, director and arranger, Shannon Mowday was introduced to music from an early age by her father. She obtained a Bmus Honours in Jazz Performance from the University of Cape Town (cum laude) and completed a Masters of Improvised Music at the Norwegian Academy of Music in Oslo.She also studied composition/arrangement with Geir Lysne. She was awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Jazz in 2007 and was granted a distinguished talent visa for residence in Australia. She was awarded Norsk jazz forum’s Storband (Big Band) prize in 2018 and Norsk Jazz Forum's Ungjazzprisen (Youth jazz prize) 2023 for her contribution to developing youth jazz in Norway. She plays all woodwinds but specializes on baritone and bass saxophones, bass clarinet and contra-alto clarinet.  Shannon relocated to Norway 2009 where she currently resides but continues to work internationally as performer, director and educator.

Shannon has performed internationally with her own projects and music (LILA ,African Eyes, Galumphing ,Shannon Mowday Quartet, MØTE, The Land In-Between, Shannon Mowday trio, QI/CHI) as well as other local and international collaborations. She has performed on concerts and jazz festivals throughout Africa (South Africa, Namibia, Egypt, Swaziland); Europe (throughout Scandinavia, Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Paris); Australia ; Malaysia (Borneo, Genting) and America and has been an ambassador for South African jazz along with fellow Standard Bank Artist Award winners. (Lord Mayor's Gala Guildhall, London; World Economic Forum in Davos Switzerland, South African Expo in China). She recorded her debut cd African Eyes  in Australia along with fellow leading Australia jazz musicians and with multi-instrumentalist James Morrison as guest artist.

Her  project ‘LILA’  is a collaboration with some of Scandinavia’s finest improvising artists; Helge Lien-piano, Johannes Eick—6 string bass and Erik Nylander-drums.LILA was featured at the Joy of Jazz Festival 2019 in South Africa and continue to perform in Norway and internationally.LILA  released ‘The Land In-Between’ in October 2020 on Bugge Wesseltoft’s OK World label.(Jazzland).’Supposing’  from the album was selected for the 10th edition of  Jazz out of Norway’  cd compilation. Shannon Mowday’s CHI/ Qi -an international collaboration toured  North Norway  April 2019 Chi/Qi ; Jeroen van Vliet (Netherlands) -piano, Hilmar Jensson (Iceland) -guitar and Torstein Lofthus (Norway) -drums. 

Mowday, together with trombonist Jørgen Bjelkerud, as Galumphing Duo, will release 'Contrast of Opposites'  in 2023 on AMP label and also tour South Africa with the project. 

Shannon has also performed and recorded with some of the leading musicians in the jazz /improvised music field eg. Maria Schneider, Danilo Perez, James and John Morrison, Ensemble Denada, Sibongile Khumalo, Busi Mhlongo, Gloria Bosman, Winston Mankunku, Bugge Wesseltoft, Johan Horlen,  Jeroen van Vliet, Nils Landgren,  Steffen Schorn, Jonathan Butler, Oliver Mtukudzi, John Fedchock, Geir Lysne, Erlend Skomsvoll, Elin Rosseland, Mike del Ferro, Trondheim Jazz Orchestra etc.She worked extensively with South African Diva, Sibongile Khumalo (dec) and wrote and arranged for her projects at local and international festivals. (Makanda National Arts, Cape Town International,Joy of Jazz). She also performed on her ‘Sibongile Khumalo LIVE’ cd/ dvd.

Her composition ‘Woza Waltz’  was selected for the SA Jazz Real Book and ‘Woza Waltz' and ‘African Eyes’  selected for the South African Jazz Collection. As composer and director, she has a strong focus on combining South African, Scandinavian and other folk music in both small and large ensemble writing and has been director, composer and soloist for many projects with bigbands and windbands. In Norway she has performed and composed/arranged for Ensemble Denada, Brazz Brothers, North Sea Big band,  Det Nye Norsk Storband (formerly Øvre Foss Big band), Stabbsmusikk, Bajazz, Ski Big band, Police Orchestra, Hamar Orchestra, Eikeblaas, Elverom Big Band, Jazzå, Sandvika Storband, Nes , Føyka ,Bergen Ungdomstorband ,Starlight Big band ,Norges Musikhøgskole Big band,  Hemnesberget Big band (Afhild’s Balkon Deluxe),DIOC Big band.She composed for the 'Ballbreaker Ensemble' in Switzerland for Jazzwerkstatt festival 2012 featuring Andreas Schaerer. Her arrangements and compositions have been used internationally by various leading musicians and ensembles. Aside from her own writing and projects, she has had several commissions for projects including works for Det Nye Norske Storband, Stabbsmusikk, Ensemble Denada, Taffelpikene (woodwind trio),a commission for Cimbasso and small jazz ensemble and project to be performed in 2024 'Colourful Houses' with Bergen Big Band.

In South Africa, she performed with all the major symphony orchestras as soloist with her music.(Cape Town Philharmonic, Eastern Cape Philharmonic, Durban Philharmonic, Johannesburg Festival Orchestras).She wrote and performed music for award winning tv documentary series, Impresario and Jungle Beat.

Notable projects she has been involved in: Member of the prestigious Norwegian group Ensemble Denada and has toured internationally with them (South Africa, Italy, America, Norway, Germany, England )and been part of a live performancecd production with them ‘Live in Bremen’ .She arranged for Ensemble Denada in a project featuring renowned Norwegian bass player, Arild Andersen. She performed with Marius Neset and Bergen Bigband with his commissioned work for Nattjazz (2021) .She was a member of 'Elin Rosseland Quintet ‘ and recorded with Elin’s music and the Trondheim Jazz Orkester (EKKO).She has performed with German NDR Bigband under leadership of Geir Lysne. She was a member of Jazz Baltica‘All-star Bigband’ and ‘Baltica Allstars’created by Nils Landgren and also recorded and performed in other projects he has initiated ( Peter and the Wolf, Tales of Bremen).She instigated the international project BURN! which is a collaboration of Norwegian, South African ,French, German, Swedish and Danish female jazz musicians which has toured extensively. 

As educator, she was instrumental lecturer at the University of Cape Town in South Africa as well as schools and also leading many community band projects in South Africa.(Turfjamp, Sekunjalo, South African National School's Band, workshops with Standband Bank Young Artist Award winners) She taught at Norges Musikhøgskole as well as Cultural Centres in Norway and has given many workshops throughout Norway as well as internationally  (Africa, America and Australia). She has been involved in both Buskerud Ungdoms Storband  (BVUS), Nordnorsk Ungdomsstorband  and Akershus og Oslo Ungdomsjazzorkester (AOJO) in both leadership and writing capacities. 

She currently leads and composes/arranges for  Akershus og Oslo Ungdomsjazzorkester (AOJO)  https://ostnorsk.jazzinorge.no/aojo-akershus-og-oslo-ungdomsjazzorkester/. AOJO have had performances on Molde Jazz, Oslo Jazz, Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival (South Africa), Jazz Baltica (Germany) and other performances in Norway .She also initiated a mass youth project (AOJO and Øvre Foss) which performed at Oslo jazz as well as other performances.A cd of AOJO and collaboration with Øvre Foss entitled ‘Oasis of Bad Vibes’ was released June 2019.She also leads projects with the North Norwegian Youth Bigband (NNUSB) and has many project with young musicians internationally. There has been a documentary released about her work with AOJO ‘‘Om å spille sammen som seg selv’ (To play together as yourself) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=auE9X2HvzaA.They will have a mass reunion concert in 2024 to celebrate 10 year's of it's existence.

’Shannon Mowday’s Bridge over #Me Too’  with Det Nye Norske Storband, had it’s debut in June 2021 and presents many social issues found within the music industry based on real-life stories and incidences.The purpose is to highlight and recognise situations that occur and to start relevant discussions about how effective changes can be made to rectify gender imbalances in the jazz milieu.This features her as composer, director and soloist ,together with big band and Norwegian Slam poetry champion, Olav Abildgaard on rap. They have released 3 singles with Bridge Over Me Too: ’Who’s your Daddy?’(Oct 2021), ‘Come on…Play like a Boy ‘ (Dec 2021) and ‘Find your Way’ (Mar 2022).Bridge  performed in Oslo, Trondheim and Lillestrøm Storband Festival October 2022. Shannon has plans for multi-faceted collaborations in South Africa 2023 with the project.

Aside from this, she has worked actively in projects which aim at rectifying gender imbalance issues in the jazz milieu- led workshops with ‘Det Annet Kjønn’ (Stavanger) and representing students at CMPE talks at NMH as well as discussions internationally. 

She continues to find ways to collaborate youths from across the world through music and in 2013 initiated a  collaboration of youths from Norway with several community based projects in South Africa. In 2017 and 2019, she initiated projects from Norway to travel to South Africa and created ‘International Bands’  with the idea of sharing different life and cultural perspectives. She has also created national projects combining young musicians throughout Norway.As well as various school projects up north, as festival artist of Hemnes Jazz 2022,  she created a youth project jazz together with the festival and Nord Norsk Jazz Centre, uniting musicians from North and South of Norway and also arranged their  compositions in a large ensemble setting.This will be repeated along with other projects at school and youth level. In 2023 she will be co-leading an improvisation camp for Østnorsk jazzsenter which has a strong focus on individual expression with a particular focus on mental, physical and creative health. 

Shannon is passionate about creating opportunities and platforms for musical and life ‘conversations’ with people from different cultures or life experiences. She is a strong voice for gender equality, individuality and speaks openly about issues such as Gender based Violence, and other forms of abuse in the hope to raise awareness and find long lasting solutions for this. ‘Courtney’ from her ‘The Land In Between’ album was dedicated to slain South African toddler ,Courtney Pieters, as well as the album dedicated to victims of gender based violence. ‘Woman of Africa’ was featured on Mc Coy Mrubata’s ‘The Strings Attached’ project which was composed in dedication to his murdered daughter, Nonceba. ‘Expose the Man’ was written for and dedicated to Dan Weclaw in support of his case against his father for numerous charges of paedophilia.

Shannon is a single mom and very engaged about creating infrastructures that make the industry more suitable for parents.Sharing different perceptions of life and creativity is foremost in her work .She has a strong focus on each musician's personal identity and aims to create healthy musical environments to promote physical, mental and creative health.