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Exploring creativity, community and identity through music

Decoda ensemble. Photo credit Caroline Bittencourt

An innovative set of partnerships between South African music organisations and the Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall will bring a series of exciting workshops, performances and residencies to South Africa in June.

Decoda is a New York-based chamber collective that is the first Affiliate Ensemble of Carnegie Hall and also Resident Ensemble in Creative Performance at the Guildhall School, London. Comprising of some of America’s top classical chamber musicians, it is dedicated to bringing meaningful musical experiences to a diverse range of audiences through engaging performances and interactive concerts, with the aim of connecting people through music, inspiring creativity and celebrating community and identity. Established in 2012, Decoda’s projects and performances have taken place in the United Kingdom, Germany, Abu Dhabi, Iceland, Japan, Hong Kong, India, Mexico, and across the United States. 

During June 2017, with the support of the Econet Foundation, for the first time Decoda is partnering with South African orchestras, universities, music organisations and NPOs, to tour with performances and workshops in Gauteng, the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape. The tour will culminate with the launch of the Decoda Institute South Africa (DISA) Residency, in collaboration with the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival. The programme is an in-depth music performance and learning residency with an emphasis on providing young musicians with communication and engagement skills that will enable them to bring classical music to new communities and the next generation. 

“I have visited South Africa for the past seven years and am always inspired by the level of musicality and expertise I encountered in the country,” says James Austin Smith, Co-Artistic Director of Decoda. “It has been a dream to bring the Decoda team here to collaborate with the wealth of South African talent and to share our music with audiences at various concerts and community engagement workshops. We hope to establish long-lasting connections that will plant seeds for future collaborations and we are especially excited about the launch of the DISA residency. Music has the power to connect people and build self-confidence. Our interactive workshops are designed for people, and youth especially, to explore chamber music as enjoyment and inspire them about this style of music.” Partners for the tour include Miagi Centre for Music in Soweto, Johannesburg Youth Orchestra, Gauteng Opera, Durban Music School, Kwa-Zulu Natal and Johannesburg Orchestras, the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival and the Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre, Parow.

A Decoda interactive performance

Tour event dates:

Gauteng and Free State:

June 11: Cape Gate Miagi Centre for Music, Soweto (workshop and interactive performance)

June 12: Residency with the Johannesburg Youth Orchestra

June 13: DECODA Concert at the Etienne Rousseau Theatre in Sasolburg

June 14: DECODA performance with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra at Linder Auditorium

June 15: DECODA performance with the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra at Linder Auditorium

Kwa-Zulu Natal

June 17: Interactive performance at Durban Music School

June 18: DECODA Concert at the Tatham Art Gallery in Pietermaritzburg

June 22: DECODA performance with the Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestra at Playhouse Opera Theatre

Western Cape

June 24: DECODA Concert at Endler Hall in Stellenbosch

June 24-28: DECODA Institute in South Africa (DISA) in Stellenbosch University (residency)

June 28: DISA Community Performance in Khayelitsha 12PM

June 28: DISA Creative Performance at Youngblood Gallery in Cape Town 7.30pm

June 29: Hugo Lambrechts Music Centre, Parow (Teaching and Performance Residency)

For information about tour dates and bookings visit

For more information about Decoda, visit

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