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Minnesota Orchestra Announces Engagement and Exchange Activities on South Africa Tour, August 8-19

Engagement activities offered in each tour city: Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Soweto and Johannesburg 

Twin Cities audiences can tune in to Classical MPR 99.5 FM to hear the Orchestra’s historic Soweto concert broadcast from Regina Mundi Church, August 17, 7pm 

Photos and videos will be posted daily throughout the tour at

Music Director Osmo Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra depart on August 3 for a performance at London’s BBC Proms festival on August 6 and a historic tour of South Africa, August 8 to 19, that will feature large-scale concert performances and musical exchanges with student groups from Cape Town to Soweto, all in connection with a worldwide celebration of the late Nobel Peace Prize-winning South African leader Nelson Mandela on the centenary of his birth. Minnesota Orchestra musicians will partner with young South African musicians in each tour city, participating in musical exchanges, performances and rehearsals, as well as offering master classes and mock auditions. A complete list of engagement activities begins on page 3.

Announced in January, the Minnesota Orchestra’s tour to South Africa will mark the first time a professional U.S. orchestra has ever toured to the country. The five-city tour will feature performances in Cape Town, Durban, Pretoria, Soweto and Johannesburg, and will draw together South African and Western performers and music. The tour is presented in partnership with Classical Movements, the international concert tour management company, which has worked extensively in South Africa since 1994.

Connecting during the Tour: On the radio and online

Minnesota audiences and Orchestra fans everywhere will have multiple ways to connect with the tour while it is in progress. At 1 p.m. Central Time on Monday, August 6, Classical Minnesota Public Radio will offer a live local broadcast of the Orchestra’s Proms performance. Hosted by MPR’s Brian Newhouse and a BBC announcer, the broadcast will air statewide on Classical MPR, including KSJN 99.5 FM in the Twin Cities. A complete list of Classical MPR stations can be found at Listeners worldwide will be able to stream the broadcast via the Classical MPR website. The performance will also be broadcast live in the U.K. and recorded and distributed for future broadcasts by the European Broadcasting Union.

At 7 p.m. Central Time on Friday, August 17, MPR will offer a broadcast of the Orchestra’s performance at Regina Mundi Roman Catholic Church in Soweto, hosted by Brian Newhouse. The broadcast will air statewide on Classical MPR, be available worldwide via online streaming and available to radio listeners in South Africa via Classic 1027 FM. Additionally, the Soweto concert will be recorded and distributed for future broadcasts by the European Broadcasting Union. It will also be re-broadcast on Classical MPR and streamed on at 1 pm Central, August 24.

The performance in Soweto, where Mandela once lived and the birthplace of the struggle against apartheid, will feature a program showcasing the final movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, which will draw together the Minnesota Orchestra, South African soloists, members of the Minnesota Chorale, Cape Town’s 29:11 and the South Africa-based Gauteng Choristers for the ultimate orchestral expression of peace and goodwill, the “Ode to Joy.” The Regina Mundi Church is a historic venue that provided shelter to anti-apartheid activists and groups during the apartheid era and was subsequently the site of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation hearings in the 1990s.

Throughout the tour, Orchestra fans can follow along on the Minnesota Orchestra’s website——and social media channels for regular photo and video updates from the road. 

Exchange and Engagement Activities

Minnesota Orchestra musicians will begin connecting with South African student musicians immediately following the Orchestra’s arrival on August 8. On Thursday, August 9 at 1 p.m. local time, a Minnesota Orchestra Brass Quintet will visit the Cape Music Institute, a post-secondary school located in the Cape Flats that cites its mission to “provide a pertinent and holistic form of eminence education for all, specifically to those from disadvantaged communities, to enable all students to attain a renowned level of professionalism, integrity and skill.” This musical exchange will feature performances by both the Orchestra’s brass quintet and students, as well as an opportunity for student musicians to teach the brass ensemble about ghoema music.

On Saturday, August 11 at 12:30 p.m., Orchestra musicians will share in a cultural exchange at Ravensmead Secondary School in the Cape Flats. Co-presented with New Hope International Exchange, the event will showcase Cape Town-based ensemble 29:11, students from the Cape Music Institute and Orchestra musicians in an eclectic mash-up of classical music, hip hop, song and dance.

In Pretoria, the Orchestra will launch an immersive residency with the South African National Youth Orchestra (SANYO) that involves a Side-by-Side rehearsal (August 15, 2 p.m.) led by Osmo Vänskä, as well as masterclasses, mock auditions and performance opportunities at the University of Pretoria. SANYO is an ensemble that draws talented young players from across South Africa and the continent of Africa; Osmo Vänskä first conducted the ensemble in 2014, and that experience was the catalyst for the current Minnesota Orchestra tour.

Before the performance at Regina Mundi Church in Soweto, Minnesota Orchestra musicians will visit the Missourilaan Secondary School in Soweto (August 17, 11 a.m.) for a performance exchange and to celebrate a Books For Africa shipment.

Minnesota Orchestra Engagement and Exchange Activities (Complete list)


Cape Music Institute Musical Exchange, 1 to 2:30 pm
East Wing, Level 2, Hickory Street, Athlone Stadium, Athlone, Cape Town
A musical exchange between students of the Cape Music Institute (CMI) and a Minnesota Orchestra brass quintet, featuring teaching opportunities, ghoema music and performances by both the brass quintet and students. 

V&A Waterfront Performance, 4-4:30 pm
Dock Road, Cape Town
The Minnesota Orchestra Brass Quintet (Charles Lazarus and Douglas C. Carlsen, trumpet; R. Douglas Wright, trombone; Michael Gast, horn; and Steven Campbell, tuba) offer a free performance at the V&A Waterfront.



Ravensmead Secondary School Cultural Exchange, 12:30 to 2pm
De La Rey St & Ullswater Road, Ravensmead, Cape Town
Co-presented with New Hope International Exchange, musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra, Cape Town-based ensemble 29:11 and local CMI students join for a cultural exchange, featuring classical music, hip hop and lots of song and dance. The event will include a Books For Africa celebration.

Cape Town Philharmonic Youth Orchestra Rehearsal, 12:30 to 2 pm
ArtScape Theatre Centre, D.F. Malan Street, Foreshore, Cape Town
Music Director Osmo Vänskä conducts the Cape Town Youth Philharmonic in rehearsal, and members of the Minnesota Orchestra will coach and mentor students throughout the rehearsal.



KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band Rehearsal, 10:30 am to 12pm
Durban Music School, 21 Diakonia Avenue, Durban 
Osmo Vänskä, wind and brass musicians from the Orchestra offer sectionals and coaching opportunities with the KwaZulu-Natal Youth Wind Band.



South African National Youth Orchestra (SANYO) Side-by-Side Rehearsal, 2 to 4 pm
University of Pretoria, Aula Theater
Music Director Osmo Vänskä leads a Side-by-Side rehearsal with the student musicians of SANYO and the Minnesota Orchestra, followed by a joint dinner. 



American International School of Johannesburg, 11 am to 12:20 pm
Knopjeslaagte, Midrand, 1682, Johannesburg
A violin duo from the Orchestra visits this pre-k through 8 school.



Residency with SANYO and University of Pretoria music students, 10 am to 2:30 pm
University of Pretoria
A day-long residency in which Music Director Osmo Vänskä and Minnesota Orchestra musicians offer masterclasses, mock auditions and performances with music students of SANYO and the University of Pretoria, as part of the University of Pretoria’s Music Enrichment Festival.



Books For Africa presentation and performance, 11 to 12 noon
Missourilaan Secondary School, 15 Missouri Avenue, Eldorado Park, Gauteng Province
Saint Paul-based nonprofit Books For Africa celebrates a shipment of books and Minnesota Orchestra musicians perform.



SANYO performance conducted by Roderick Cox, 2pm
Performance location to be announced
Minnesota Orchestra Associate Conductor Roderick Cox leads SANYO in a celebratory concert performance that is the culmination of their residency with the Minnesota Orchestra.

Minnesota Orchestra London and South Africa Tour At A Glance


  • Monday, August 6, 2018, 7 p.m./ BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London
  • Friday, August 10, 2018, 8 p.m. / City Hall, Cape Town
  • Sunday, August 12, 2018, 5 p.m. / City Hall, Durban
  • Thursday, August 16, 2018, 7:30 p.m./Aula Theatre, University of Pretoria, Pretoria
  • Friday, August 17, 7 p.m. / Regina Mundi Roman Catholic Church, Soweto
  • Saturday, August 18, 3 p.m. / City Hall, Johannesburg 

Soloists and Performers:

Minnesota Orchestra
Osmo Vänskä, conductor
Inon Barnatan, piano (London only)
Goitsemang Lehobye, soprano (all South Africa performances)
Minette du Toit-Pearce, mezzo (Soweto and Johannesburg only)
Siyabonga Maqungo, tenor (Soweto and Johannesburg only)
Njabulo Madlala, bass-baritone (Soweto and Johannesburg only)
Gauteng Choristers (Soweto and Johannesburg only)
Minnesota Chorale (Soweto and Johannesburg only)
29:11 (Soweto and Johannesburg only)

Music on the Tour:

African songs: Akhala Amaqhude Amabili, Ruri, Bawo Thixo Somandla and Usilethela Uxolo, sung in Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho

Beethoven                   Symphony No. 5
Beethoven                   Symphony No. 9, Choral
Bernstein                     Overture to Candide
Gershwin                     Piano Concerto in F (London only)
Ives                              Symphony No. 2 (London only)
Ndodana-Breen               Harmonia Ubuntu (commissioned by Classical Movements)
Sibelius                           En Saga  

Number of performers on tour (Orchestra, choirs): 250
Total number of tour travelers (Orchestra, choirs, staff, crew, patrons): 350 

Number of travel trunks (housing cargo of instruments, wardrobe and equipment): 86
Total cargo: 2,855 cubic square feet or 14,000 lbs 

Route: All cargo will be flown from Chicago to Luxembourg for international inspection before being trucked to London for the BBC Proms performance.  Following the Proms, cargo will be trucked back to Luxembourg and then flow directly to Johannesburg, where it will be trucked to individual tour cities throughout South Africa.  

The tour is funded by generous contributions from an anonymous couple. 

The Minnesota Orchestra recognizes the Douglas and Louise Leatherdale Fund for Music supporting the work of Osmo Vänskä.

Additional funding for the Music for Mandela project is provided by a consortium of corporations based in Minnesota that includes Ecolab, Land O’Lakes, Medtronic Foundation, 3M, Pentair, Target, TCF Bank, Thor Companies and U.S. Bank.



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