Siva Devar, composer for SABC3’s popular South African soap “Isidingo” and several other television programs plus theatrical musicals, died Dec. 13 after suffering a stroke. He was 46.
Devar was born in Srinagar, the capital of the northern Indian state of Kashmir, but his parents emigrated to South Africa when he was 12.
As a teen he learned Western-style music from a Jesuit priest who played the violin and whose church services included Mozart, Bach and Verdi; later Devar chose the guitar as his instrument of choice.
After studying music at the U. of Cape Town and at Stuttgart U. in Germany, he returned to South Africa to work in theater and the recording industry, quickly establishing a reputation for his versatility.
He managed to balance his love of serious classical music with the more commercial demands of popular television, working as easily with classical orchestral directors as with television and stage producers.
At the time of his death, Devar was working with “Lion King” co-composer Lebo M on a new South African musical, “Gumbeat,” which is due to open at the Johannesburg Civic Theater on Jan. 23.