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SAME celebrates social cohesion on South African soil this December

In less than a month, 190 musicians will converge on a single stage, treating global music lovers to a musical extravaganza. The South Africa/America Music Exchange festival (SAME) initiative seeks to amplify the spirit of unity and collaboration, through music.

classical music concerts South Africa

Live concerts, an international symposium, and a regional workshop make up the SAME project. The Concert is a spectacular musical experience bringing an incredible selection of artists, both locally and internationally, who come together on the SAME stage for a rare musical event.

The programme of selected musicians is diverse and far-reaching. Composer and performer Ed Sarath, a 60-piece orchestra, an 80-piece choir, and a 40-piece Marimba Band from Education Africa’s very own Marimba Hubs programme also feature in the concert.

Other highlights include the all-women Jazz Ensemble with US-based Regina Carter and Gayelynn McKinney and SA-based Siya Makuzeni, Chantal Willie-Peterson and Ulagh Williams, as well as an African music ensemble with South African Dizu Plaatjies, American Mark Stone and Ugandan Albert Bisaso Ssempeke.

classical music concerts South Africa
Siya Makuzeni, Ford Theatre

The first half of the concert features a combined Marimba Band from the Education Africa Marimba Hubs programme and the soloists. The second half then sees a performance of His Day is Done, by US composer Ed Sarath, which sets music to Maya Angelou’s poem of the same title which she wrote and dedicated to Nelson Mandela shortly after his passing in 2013. Written for symphony orchestra, choir, jazz soloists and African percussion, this five-movement work traverses wide-ranging musical and cultural boundaries and heralds the lives and work of Angelou and Mandela as two bold icons of social justice and national transformation.

With social cohesion and transformative impact at its core, SAME seeks to celebrate the rich heritage of South Africa and the United States of America, while also passing on the musical baton to future leaders.

The concert travels across two provinces, making its first stop at the Guy Butler Theatre, in Makhanda in the Eastern Cape on the 4 December 2022 before moving to Johannesburg at the Linder Auditorium on 8 December 2022.

classical music concerts South Africa Regina Carter
Regina Carter
classical music concerts South Africa Ulagh Williams
Ulagh Williams

Working towards a common goal

US-based Carter says that such a project comes at a crucial time: ‘All of the artists on this project are coming together from many different genres, different parts of the world, sharing the same space, as we work towards a common goal, to uplift and unify.’

Multi-instrumentalist Ssempeke, who hails from Uganda and is also the son of the former royal court musician of the kingdom of Buganda, says such a collaborative concert not only allows him the opportunity to showcase his skills but is a platform for continued alliance and growth for the global community of music.

classical music concerts South Africa Chantal Willie Petersen
Chantal Willie Petersen
classical music concerts South Africa JPO Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra
Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra

Joan Lithgow, Senior Manager and Marimba Specialist at Education Africa says: ‘This social cohesion initiative intentionally was scheduled around the anniversary of Mandela’s passing in 2013.’

Lithgow goes on to quote Mandela on the power of music:

Music is a great blessing. It has the power to elevate and liberate us. It sets people free to dream. It can unite us to sing with one voice. Such is the value of music.

‘This quote embodies everything and more that SAME represents. It is such an honour and privilege for our young marimba players to be performing alongside such amazing international and local musicians and to experience not only musicianship on another level but real social cohesion in action!’ she says.

classical music concerts South Africa
Ed Sarath
Dizu Plaatjies
Dizu Plaatjies

Enriching lives through music

The SAME initiative has received endorsement from the Nelson Mandela and the Maya Angelou Foundations with further collaborators, including local and international universities, the International Society for Improvised Music and the International Consortium for Academic and Societal Transformation.

classical music concert James Urdang and Nelson Mandela
CEO & Founder of Education Africa James Urdang and Nelson Mandela

This concert is in partnership with South African NGO Education Africa, an organisation that, this year, celebrates 30 years of consistently playing its part in making real change happen in society.

Education Africa is committed to improving the quality of life of the poor through various amazing initiatives, one of them being the Education Africa Marimba Project which strives and consistently succeeds in raising the bar for social cohesion and providing cultural enrichment opportunities through its Marimba Hubs, an integral part of the project.

SAME also presents an international symposium where a panel will dissect crucial questions around the topic Black Music Matters, which will take place at the Nelson Mandela University on 5 December 2022, the anniversary of Mandela’s death in 2013, and another regional workshop titled Improvisation without Borders scheduled for 9 December 2022 at Tshwane’s Unisa campus.

For tickets to the SAME music concerts in both Makhanda and Gauteng visit

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