Sandile Khemese picked up his first violin at the age of eight and hasn’t put it down since. He and his brother Reuben were encouraged to pursue their interest in music by their father and their uncle and mentor, Michael Masote, playng at functions in Soweto from the age of 12.
Sandile and Reuben founded the Soweto String Quartet in 1978 with 2 other members who have since been replaced. Young Makhosini Mnguni saw them play and he was inspired. Even though he was an accomplished trumpet player, he decided to learn violin, later turning his attention to the viola.
The youngest Khemese brother, Thami had by this time also been bitten by the ‘String Bug’ and Sandile took on both of his protégés. The two new recruits became fully fledged members in 1986, forming the present day line-up of Sandile Khemese on 1st violin, Thami Khemese on 2nd violin, Reuben Khemese on Cello and Makhosini Mnguni on Viola.
Sandile & Reuben played in Scotland as members of the original quartet at the aderdeen Festival of Youth Orchestras in 1979 and Sandile returned to Britain in 1980 to attend the Dartington College of Arts, attaining the A-level in music. This enabled him to enter the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, where he received his diploma in Professional Performance.
On Sandile’s return from the U.K, in 1986 the group was invited to play at the Nico Malan Theatre for the Cape Festival. This excellent performance led to an invitation to appear on the Nedbank Last Night of the Proms, performing Elgar’s ‘Introduction and Allegro for Strings’.
In 1992 SSQ opened the Crystal Court at the palace Hotel in Sun City, where they were the resident orchestra for nine months. During the same year they were featured artistes during the Miss World TV Pageant at the Sun City Superbowl and were seen on TV screens world wide.