US orchestra honours Madiba

The Minnesota Orchestra prepares for its South African Tour. PHOTO: Travis Anderson

FOR Nelson Mandela’s centenary year, the acclaimed American Minnesota Orchestra, in partnership with Classical Movements, will embark on a five-city tour of South Africa in August.

Conducted by Minnesota Orchestra Music Director Osmo Vänskä, the tour marks the first-ever visit to South Africa by a professional US orchestra, and will perform in Durban at the City Hall on Sunday, 12 August at 5pm.

A highlight of the tour will be a piece specially commissioned as a tribute to Mandela by Classical Movements. World-acclaimed composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen is writing the tribute, titled Harmonia Ubuntu, which will also feature soprano Goitsemang Oniccah Lehobye.

The piece will be performed at concerts in Minnesota in July, after which Vänskä and the Orchestra will travel to South Africa.

Speaking about their reason for travelling to South Africa, Minnesota Orchestra President and CEO Kevin Smith said: “We recently became the first American orchestra to tour Cuba following a 2014 thaw in diplomatic relations. The experience was so uplifting and enlightening for us that we decided to forge similar cultural exchanges with other countries. Our Music Director Osmo Vänskä had performed with the South African National Youth Orchestra in Cape Town and Soweto in 2014, and the moving experience of that event persuaded us to tour South Africa next.”

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Vänskä said: “Music plays a central role in South African culture today, both choral music and a growing orchestral tradition, and we are excited to experience and be part of this movement.”

The tour aims to showcase music from South African, American and European musical traditions, and will draw together South African and American performers and a mix of music, offering musical exchanges with student groups and large-scale performances in colleges, city halls and churches.

The musical tribute to Mandela forms part of nearly 50 projects planned by the Nelson Mandela Foundation to commemorate the Mandela legacy. The Chief Executive of the Nelson Mandela Foundation Sello Hatang said: “Madiba’s centenary is about helping build a values-based society. Music has over the years played a key role in helping deliver democracy in South Africa. We hope that this initiative will play a role in highlighting the plight of the poor and the marginalized, and thereby build a more equal society.”

Ticket prices range from R100 to R600 and bookings can be done through Computicket at www.computicket.com/music.

 

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