Representing South Africa on a global stage, four members of the recently formed Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (Mzansi NPO) have been invited to participate in the world premiere performance of the G20 Orchestra in Indonesia. This concert will take place on the 12th of September 2022, in Central Java’s Borobudur Temple in Magelang, Indonesia.
The G20 or Group of Twenty is an intergovernmental forum comprising 19 countries and the European Union (EU). It works to address major issues related to the global economy, such as international financial stability, climate change mitigation, and sustainable development.
The G20 Orchestra is a newly founded orchestra in Indonesia that chairs this year’s G20 Summit Presidency. Ananda Sukarlan, an Indonesian composer, and pianist, who is also the Founder and Artistic Director of the G20 Orchestra, has promised the highest level of music-making that classical music lovers can expect from the G20 Orchestra World Premiere, with some additional freshness brought to the programme by its cosmopolitan participants. The motto of this year’s G20 Summit, in the wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic, is ‘Recover Together, Recover Stronger.’
The central piece in the programme is the Piano Concerto No. 4 by Sergei Prokofiev. The Russian composer wrote this moving piece under commission from the courageous Austrian pianist, Paul Wittgenstein, who had lost his right arm while fighting against Russia during the First World War. The G20 Orchestra would also play five songs from A Child of Our Time, an oratorio penned by the renowned British composer Sir Michael Tippett. Tippett wrote his anti-war masterpiece during his three months incarceration for being a conscientious objector during World War II.
“One of Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra’s prime objectives is to harness the skills of talented, young South African musicians by broadening their orchestral experience and performance opportunities. So, it is my profound pleasure to announce the names of the four musicians, all under 30 years of age, chosen from the ranks of the Mzansi NPO to represent South Africa on a global stage. They are the violinists Jonathan Mayer and Carli D’Alebout; the cellist Chris Njapha; and the double bass player Jonalene Taylor,” Bongani Tembe, Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra, stated.
“The four young and brilliant South African musicians contribute a high degree of artistry to the G20 Orchestra, not only through their technical prowess and accomplished musicianship, but with their warm and kind personalities as well. Their presence brings a warm atmosphere which is important to establish friendship and brotherhood among orchestral members. Their hard work and discipline are also highly appreciated by the fellow members and organizers, and they certainly have a bright future with the highest qualities that they possess as musicians and humans,” says Ananda Sukarlan, composer, pianist & artistic director of the G20 Orchestra.
Catch the live event here at 19:00PM West Indonesian Time: https://youtu.be/jMSHI3uJ8ek
Jonathan Mayer is a Licentiate in Music Performance for Violin from ABRSM (2017). He started playing the violin in 2003, and plays on a Galea violin. In 2015, Jonathan studied under Prof. Farida Bacharova at the University of Cape Town, and in 2016 returned to Johannesburg to continue his studies with Irene Tsoniff. He has been concertmaster of several orchestras including the KZN Youth Orchestra guest appearance at a plethora of music festivals throughout South Africa. Jonathan currently plays for the JPO as well as The JPO String Quartet.
Carli D’Alebout, born in Welkom, is a performing violinist and teacher. From the age of eight, she started studying with Marie-Jean Kotze in Welkom. She was then a student of the renowned South African violinist, Zanta Hofmeyr, for six years. She has served as concertmaster of the South African National Youth Orchestra, Simfonia Juventi, the North West Youth Orchestra, the NWU Pukke University Orchestra and the Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival’s Symphony Orchestra. She recently received the opportunity to serve on the board of the South African String Foundation and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in violin performance.
Sicelo Christopher Njapha graduated with a BMus (Bachelor of Music) degree from Stellenbosch University’s Music Department in 2020, where he studied under the tutelage of Babette Roosenschoon. Chris began his formal music lessons at the age of 15, first with the violin for two years, then switching to the cello, taught by Nigel Fish at the Durban Music School. Having made remarkably fast progress in Stellenbosch, he participated in masterclasses with world renowned cellists David Cohen, Alexander Buzlov, Norman Fischer, Gary Hoffman and Kyril Zlotnikov. He was also the 2021 rising star performer in the Endler Hall concert series and a semi-finalist in the UNISA National Strings Competition in 2021.
Jonalene Taylor started playing double bass at the age of 10, under the tutelage of Peter Guy at the Mangaung String Programme in Bloemfontein. Her first professional orchestra experience was with the Free State Symphony Orchestra at the age of 15. She had already toured Europe with the MIAGI Youth Orchestra in 2009 before she finished high school. Jonalene has played in orchestras under conductors such as Daniel Boico, Duncan Ward, Victor Yampolsky, and Arjan Tien. She also toured in Europe with the MIAGI Orchestra in 2018 to celebrate Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday.
The young South Africans have expressed a deep appreciation for being given the rare opportunity of carrying the torch for South Africa on the international stage. Chris Njapha says: “It is an absolute privilege to be a representative of my homeland. I am excited to share what South Africa’s people have to offer with the different people I will encounter.”
About the Mzansi National Philarmonic Orchestra
Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (Mzansi NPO) is a not-for-profit, public benefit company that is led by a board of directors consisting of highly respected South Africans who are renowned in their respective fields. This Orchestra has a mandate to broaden the orchestral experience of the country, and support regional and youth orchestras and other music initiatives and music institutions of learning in South Africa.
An important mission of Mzansi NPO is to utilise music to bring South Africans together and to brand South Africa positively on the international stage.
The vision of Mzansi NPO is to be an inclusive national asset and orchestra, which promotes nation building and is internationally recognised for its artistic excellence, innovation, education initiatives and community engagement programmes.
The Mzansi NPO is committed to contributing meaningfully to the improvement of the quality of life of the diverse communities in South Africa. This will be achieved through the creation of world-class orchestral music experiences and touring events, nationally and internationally, and the implementation of the national cadetship programme in partnership with regional orchestras and institutions of learning, in order to promote transformation of this sector.
The Orchestra will create a positive impact through the use of music as a facilitator for building inclusivity, social cohesion, and social dialogue – and this will be achieved by, among others, finding, mentoring, training, and supporting young and talented musicians and promoting the teaching, knowledge and appreciation of diverse genres of music.
Mzansi NPO musicians consist of the cream of South African musicians who are based in South Africa and abroad, who will perform together from time to time.
Mzansi NPO sees musicians who hail from seven provinces/cities of South Africa: Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town, Gqeberha, Kimberly and Bloemfontein.
75% of the projected budget is earmarked for artistic skills development programmes for young musicians of all races, touring, concerts, and community engagement programmes. Crucially, a substantial part of the budget includes grants to regional and youth orchestras, composers, and other related institutions of learning throughout South Africa.
The Department of Sport, Arts and Culture (DSAC) championed the establishment of the South African National Philharmonic Orchestra, as an element of a dynamic, vibrant and transformed South African arts, culture and heritage sector that will contribute towards nation building, social cohesion, and socio-economic inclusion.
This is part of advancing the view contained in the revised White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage that the Cabinet approved in August 2018 and that was endorsed by Parliament in February 2020, that national companies must be developed so that their artistic reputations for excellence contribute to the advancement of cultural tourism, and that these national companies must be subsidised to embark on a touring circuit.
The policy of establishing national arts companies was given additional impetus since support was announced in parliament in the Budget Speech of February 2019 by the Minister of Finance. In the speech, the Minister of Finance stated that “the global renown of South Africa’s art and culture is an expression of our soft power and our rich heritage, and that our public finance choices should reflect an intention to preserve and add to this cultural canon”.