The Board of Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (Mzansi NPO), has appointed an Artistic Planning Committee, formed with the purpose of engaging with and advising the Orchestra on a number of matters, including the following:
the allocation of the artistic budget of the Orchestra, in particular, the funding to regional and youth orchestras;
the provision of high-level input into the planning processes of the Orchestra;
advising on the selection criteria for musicians who play for Mzansi NPO;
advising on the selection of cadets and fellows and other Mzansi NPO artistic related matters.
Justice Leona Theron, Chairperson, Mzansi NPO said: “The future of orchestral music in South Africa looks bright. I’m delighted that artists and arts managers of such high calibre have agreed to assist Mzansi NPO in a crucial area of our work which relates to the artistic programming, planning and the distribution of funding to regional and youth orchestras and other entities.”
The Artistic Planning Committee comprises of distinguished artists and arts managers, including Nina Schuman, Samson Diamond and Karéndra Devroop. Schuman holds a piano professorship at the University of Stellenbosch, passing on her artistic knowledge and producing students of the highest caliber. In addition, her services to the South African musical community include co-founding an independent record label, Two Pianists Records, and the founding of the renowned Stellenbosch International Chamber Music Festival in 2004, which has quickly become the best-known chamber music festival on the African continent. Two Pianists Records assumed the role of Yamaha International Artists in 2014.
Diamond is the leader of the award-winning Odeion String Quartet since 2013, resident at the University of the Free State. He is a lecturer at the Odeion School of Music and concertmaster of the Free State Symphony Orchestra (FSSO). Diamond has enjoyed an association with the London based, Chineke! Orchestra since its inception in 2015. Chineke! is Europe’s first black and ethnic minority orchestra, and Diamond has had the honour of performing as their concertmaster for various international tours.
On his part, Devroop is the Director of the University of South Africa’s Music Foundation. He is also South Africa’s leading saxophonist, having performed with most of South Africa’s top jazz and classical talent, and collaborated with an impressive list of artists from all over the world. He has several live and studio recordings to his credit. In addition to his small ensemble and big band work, he has performed as soloist with the Lamont Symphony (Colorado), Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra, Sanremo Symphony Orchestra, Johannesburg Festival Orchestra, Ochestra del Teatro Traetta and Unisa Symphony Orchestra.
Devroop said: “I’m honoured to serve on the Mzansi NPO Artistic Planning Committee as I believe the Orchestra will continuously assist and add value to the benefit of the entire orchestral industry in South Africa. I’m also glad to be working so closely with Mr. Bongani Tembe on this committee as I have immense respect for the massive contribution he has made to music and the arts in South Africa over many decades.”
Launched in July, Mzansi NPO’s role is to identify, develop and nurture young and talented South African orchestral musicians and to help outline a career path for them in order to transform the orchestral industry, and create innovative community engagement events and programmes aimed at connecting classical music to a broader audience. An important objective of the orchestra is to use music and concerts to bring together South Africans of all races and ages with the aim of promoting nation building.
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”