The Mzansi Philharmonic Orchestra’s highly successful 2023 national tour concluded last week. The orchestra, which comprises some of the best South African musicians from around the country and abroad, performed to full houses in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Gqeberha.
Part of Mzansi Philharmonic’s mandate is to broaden the orchestral experience of the country. This means showcasing excellence in our major cities, but also presenting high profile concerts in centres which don’t usually enjoy access to them.
The programme for these concerts featured multi award-winning soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha, who sang arias by Verdi, Puccini and Wagner, as well as a rendition of Miriam Makeba’s much-loved Pata-Pata. The second half of the concert featured Mahler’s magnanimous Symphony No. 5, performed by the 85-piece orchestra. Conductor Joseph Young led the orchestra with technical brilliance, as well as the vibrancy and energy that is fast becoming synonymous with the Mzansi Philharmonic.
“The Orchestra is intent on presenting musicians who represent the diversity of our rainbow nation. With musicians from seven of our nine provinces, varied in terms of race, age and gender, and a passion to feed the ecosystem of the orchestral music sector, Mzansi Philharmonic is staying true to its mission to transform lives through the power of music.”Bongani Tembe, Mzansi Philharmonic Chief Executive and Artistic Director
In addition to the symphony concerts, the Mzansi Philharmonic presented workshops for close to 100 young aspiring musicians from music schools in the Western Cape. These dynamic individuals, who are already receiving orchestral instrument tuition, received masterclasses from members of the Mzansi Philharmonic. In Gqeberha, the Mzansi Philharmonic presented a free community concert where more than 500 learners from schools around the region were bussed in to experience a demonstration concert conducted by Kutlwano Masote.
“The life and energy we see around us is infectious,” said Nicole Haynes, the Mzansi Philharmonic Tour Manager. “It is so encouraging to know that there is a new generation of musicians being groomed throughout the country, from first exposure concerts to in-depth training of upcoming musicians who already perform competently on orchestral instruments. It is part of the beauty of music traditions to watch skills being intentionally transferred from one generation to the next and to witness excellence being fostered. When we watch these youngsters growing in the joy, study and togetherness of orchestral music disciplines, we are more convinced than ever that this work truly matters and makes a lasting difference to those we are honoured to serve.”
The Mzansi Philharmonic’s commitments are not limited to a single tour each year and much of their success is due to the linking of arms with regional orchestras and music projects throughout the country. In addition to supporting them with funds, the Mzansi Philharmonic also partners with orchestra management teams and aspiring arts leaders, assisting with strategy and implementation, practical workshops, scouting and development of upcoming talent and compositions, and showcasing of performances.
“We are just getting started! We have great plans which will contribute to the growth of the knowledge and appreciation of music in South Africa and continue branding South Africa positively throughout the world.”Bongani Tembe, Mzansi Philharmonic Chief Executive and Artistic Director