In 1998 Ndodana-Breen was the first Black classical composer to be awarded the prestigious Standard Bank Young Artist Award for Music, by the National Arts Festival and sponsored by Standard Bank of South Africa.
His music is a blend of African and classical styles. Some of his pieces reflect on various scenes from his native Xhosa culture (such as Hintsa's Dances, which is based on the life of Paramount Chief Hintsa ka Khawuta, Apologia at Umzimvubu and Sons of The Great Tree).
He has received commissions from across the globe from the Hong Kong Chinese Orchestra, the Miller Theatre of New York, Vancouver Recital Society, Madame Walker Theatre, Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, Ensemble Noir/MusicaNoir, BodyVox dance company, Southern African Music Rights Organization (SAMRO), National Arts Council, The Emancipation Festival of Trinidad & Tobago and Wigmore Hall, London.
He has written operas, orchestral and chamber works, including the controversial opera The Passion of Winnie in collaboration with filmmaker Warren Wilensky, based on anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela.