Minnesota Orchestra’s groundbreaking South Africa tour gets underway

Posted on: August 8, 2018

“The Minnesota Orchestra flies this week to South Africa, becoming the first U.S. symphony orchestra to tour that country,” writes Jenna Ross in Sunday’s (8/5) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). The tour “stems from a confluence of events: The company [Classical Movements] that handled the [orchestra’s 2015] journey to Cuba had a long history in South Africa…. Music director Osmo Vänskä conducted a youth orchestra in Cape Town a few years back, calling it ‘a turning point in my life.’ Then, orchestra leaders learned that 2018 would be the centenary of the late Nelson Mandela, the country’s first black president…. Classical Movements … has arranged some 250 concerts in South Africa…. ‘It’s been a big dream of ours to take a major symphony orchestra,’ said Neeta Helms, the company’s founder and president.” For the tour, Classical Movements commissioned Harmonia Ubuntu “by Cape Town composer Bongani Ndodana-Breen…. Over complex, African rhythms, an exulting soprano sings text from Mandela’s speeches and writings.” The orchestra will perform the work at the Soweto church where “Mandela’s image is etched in stained glass.” The August 8-19 tour includes a residency with the South African National Youth Orchestra and other educational activities.

Posted August 8, 2018

In photo: Osmo Vänskä conducts the Minnesota Orchestra during the “Celebrating Mandela at 100” concert at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis, July 20, 2018. Photo by Leila Navidi