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U.S. Embassy welcomes Minnesota Orchestra to South Africa

The United States Mission to South Africa was pleased to welcome the Minnesota Orchestra to South Africa, as it embarked on its Music for Mandela tour across the country. As part of its Mandela Centenary commemorations, the Embassy was delighted to have provided support for the orchestra’s tour, the first ever tour of a full American orchestra to South Africa.

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä conducting at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis. PHOTO by Greg Helgeson

Over the course of its 12-day tour, the Minnesota Orchestra, in partnership with Classical Movements, collaborated with more than 800 South African musicians and 20 leading musical organisations as the ensemble performed in Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, and Johannesburg.
     Americans have long admired Nelson Mandela, respecting his commitment to moral leadership, democracy, and freedom for all — shared values we still hold close to our hearts today.
     Chargé d’Affaires Jessye Lapenn said, “The Minnesota Orchestra’s tour was made possible through the generosity and initiative of private American citizens and corporations that value the warm ties between our countries, which have continued to deepen since that first visit to the United States by Nelson Mandela.”
     Inspired by Music Director Osmo Vänskä’s collaboration with the phenomenal South African Youth Orchestra, Music for Mandela was a musical exchange that also saw the world premiere of Harmonia Ubuntu by South Africa’s own Bongani Ndodana-Breen.
     The Minnesota Orchestra also participated in a series of cultural exchanges with local musicians through the Cape Music Institute, the Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, the KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band, the South African National Youth Orchestra, the New Hope International Exchange, and the University of Pretoria.
     Find more information about the orchestra’s tour at

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