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Entertainment - June 20, 2024

African United Youth orchestra set to showcase young stellar musicians

Blandina Dimande.

A new and invigorating chapter in the African orchestral music landscape has been ushered with the establishment of the Africa United Youth Orchestra (AUYO). This groundbreaking orchestra, composed of exceptional young talents hailing from various African countries, including South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Mozambique, and the Democratic Republic of Congo, has been spearheaded by Bongani Tembe, an internationally respected arts leader. The initiative operates under the auspices of Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (Mzansi Philharmonic), South Africa’s esteemed national orchestra renowned for its world-class performances.

Bongani Tembe said “The Africa United Youth Orchestra represents a significant milestone in promoting unity, collaboration, and excellence across Africa’s diverse cultural tapestry. By bringing together gifted young musicians from different regions, the orchestra embodies the spirit of harmony and cooperation that knows no borders. Through the shared language of music, AUYO seeks to foster cultural exchange, celebrate Africa’s rich heritage, and inspire the next generation of music prodigies”.

In giving effect to a significant part of Mzansi Philharmonic’s mission of utilising music to bring people and countries together, and to harness the skills of talented young musicians and offer them performance opportunities, Mzansi Philharmonic is pleased that the formation of AUYO not only provides a platform for these talented individuals to showcase their skills on a global stage but also offers numerous benefits for Africa as a whole.

By nurturing emerging talents with a spirit of creativity and innovation, AUYO contributes to the development of a vibrant cultural ecosystem across the continent. The orchestra serves as a beacon of hope and inspiration for young musicians, demonstrating the transformative power of music in uniting communities and transcending socio-political boundaries.

AUYO is poised to make its much-anticipated debut on July 28, 2024, in the ZK Matthews Hall at the University of South Africa (UNISA), Pretoria, where audiences will be treated to a mesmerizing showcase of African music excellence. Led by conductor William Eddins, the first half of the concert will highlight groundbreaking works by South African composers M.M. Moerane, M. Khumalo, and B. Ndodana-Breen. Opening the program will be Moerane’s Fatse La Heso (My Country), followed by soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha performing arias from Khumalo’s uShaka KaSenzangakhona (a dramatic work about the legendary King of the Zulus) and Princess Magogo (the first Zulu opera), as well as Die Kind from the Three Orchestral Songs on Poems of Ingrid Jonker, composed by B. Ndodana-Breen. The concert concludes with Dvořák’s beloved Symphony No.9, “From the New World”.

Following this historic event and further solidifying its status as a beacon of artistic innovation and cultural diplomacy, AUYO will head to the prestigious Carnegie Hall for a performance on August 3rd 20024 part of Carnegie Hall’s World Orchestra Week (WOW). This summer concert festival brings together five youth orchestras from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America to New York City for music-making and cultural exchange. The five ensembles featured in the 2024 festival include: the National Children’s Symphony of

Venezuela, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel; the Africa United Youth Orchestra conducted by William Eddins; the Beijing Youth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Lü Jia; the European Union Youth Orchestra conducted by Iván Fischer; and the Afghan Youth Orchestra conducted by Tiago Moreira da Silva. These five orchestras, along with Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America, conducted by Marin Alsop, and NYO2, will each perform in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage from August 1–7, 2024.

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