Inspiring Young Musicians From Across SA

The auditions for the MIAGI YOUTH ORCHESTRA Course 2008 are in full swing. The MIAGI YOUTH ORCHESTRA Course 2008 is open to all young people 22 and under. There is no cost to individual participants who have been selected as MIAGI does not exclude anyone on the basis of them not being in a position to contribute towards costs. Aspiring young musicians from all walks of life and from across South Africa are provided with the chance to develop their musical skills and to perform in a professional setting.

Applications for the MIAGI YOUTH ORCHESTRA arrive from young musicians across the country as well as from many youth orchestra organisations. From Cape Town Philharmonic’s Youth Orchestra to the Shoshanguwe Viola Project, MIAGI is in contact with most of these youth orchestra projects around the country. One such project is the Eastern Cape Philharmonic Orchestra Investment Project in Port Elizabeth.  The 4 teachers involved teach violin, viola, piano, brass instruments and woodwind instruments such as clarinet, bassoon, oboe, flute and saxophone . The annual Youth Orchestral Experience (YOE) over the September/October school holidays, attract learners from schools in the Eastern Cape to audition for a place in the youth symphony orchestra or wind band.

At the recent PE auditions a number of YOE members took part including Sicelo Gomka (grade 11) from Motherwell Township. He has been playing trombone now for 4 years and has spontaneously started teaching younger kids in his neighbourhood. He is also the leader of a small group of other brass players from the project who practice together on the weekends.

Another young musician is Phakamile Msizi who joined the project five years ago as a small boy in his last year in Primary school, hardly able to hold the bassoon. As most of our learners on the project, he hardly had a choice of instrument, as he had to start on what was available in terms of both instruments and teachers. Over the years he has had a wonderful role model in the form of Anele Mnguni, presently a bassoon cadet with the Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic. Anele is one of the YOE protégés which the Project sponsored for 3 years to get his Diploma in Music at the Nelson Mandela Metropole University.

Independent musicians studying at various institutions also take part in the auditions. Ernst Muller and Jozua Loods are examples of these hopeful musicians. They are both currently studying at Tuks University in Pretoria and play the horn and clarinet respectively. They both also play in the University of Pretoria Symphony Orchestra and will both be auditioning for the orchestra for the first time in early February.

The Audition Process

The MIAGI YOUTH ORCHESTRA audition process starts when the accepted applicants receive a piece of music from the final concert that takes place at the end of the course. They are also expected to prepare a solo piece for their instrument. Each candidate is given 8 minutes to present their performances at the audition.

To judge the auditions across the country, MIAGI uses accomplished local instrumentalists, selected each year from a different “section” of the orchestra. The judges and moderator, the orchestra co-ordinator, are the same across the auditions for fairness and consistency. This year MIAGI will select a total of 100 participants for the orchestra and the jazz band.

The 2008 the audition process is casting a much wider net than in 2007 by including as many organisations and individuals as possible. This process has resulted in a total of 270 applications from all corners of the country. MIAGI is presently busy with the process of travelling to all the major centres to audition these hopeful young musicians.

Even those who participated in last year’s MIAGI YOUTH ORCHESTRA must audition again as MIAGI is engaged in a process of building the youth orchestra according to a “four year” plan. Each year the age limit (presently 22) is raised by one year, and the entry level is also raised by a grade each year.  This gives existing members a very good incentive to continue progressing and it also gives potentially new members something to aspire to.

MIAGI is able to offer the highest quality of tuition, both locally and from further afield. MIAGI is presently engaged in discussions with the internationally renowned Zubin Mehta to conduct the orchestra in South Africa in 2010 followed by a possible international tour.
Both Maestro Mansur and Jannie van Tonder will be back again during the 2008 course which takes place at St. Cyprian's School in Cape Town from 26 April to 4 May 2008. The course will culminate in a public performance by all participants in the Cape Town City Hall on 3 May 2008.
MIAGI Background
MIAGI – Music Is A Great Investment (formerly the International Classical Music Festival of South Africa) is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2001 with the support of the Department of Arts and Culture.  MIAGI’s annual Festival in South Africa - the TOTAL MIAGI Festival - ‘Uniting the Power of Classical, Indigenous and Jazz’ sees top local and international artists perform to extensive SA and international media coverage. MIAGI introduces South African music to audiences worldwide, commissioning new works combining indigenous and traditional with classical styles, thus promoting our music heritage internationally.
MIAGI unites people across all boundaries, playing a prominent part in efforts to empower local musicians throughout South Africa, and contributing towards the rebuilding of South Africa’s cultural heritage and integrity.
MIAGI focuses strongly on music education for children as a central tool of social upliftment and cultural awareness and is building a network of MIAGI supported music education initiatives. This rapidly expanding MIAGI education network is formed of initiatives from all around the country, in particular those active in rural and historically disadvantaged areas.
MIAGIhas been involved in youth orchestra development since 2001 and the annual orchestra course has shown sustained growth since then.  In 2007 an orchestra of 98 players under the direction of internationally acclaimed Turkish born conductor, Cem Mansur together with an 18 piece jazz band under the direction of Jannie “Hanepoot” van Tonder played to standing ovations in Johannesburg’s Linder Auditorium.
Between festivals MIAGI also arranges ongoing educational activities such as workshops, master classes and orchestra camps. MIAGI further pays teachers’ salaries and provides instruments to the young talented students through the MIAGI instrument bank.
South Africa’s cultural diversity blesses us with opportunities for cross-cultural synergy in meaningful and entertaining concert forms.  MIAGI’s synergies have seen collaborations between South African and international artists of highest acclaim such as violinist Maxim Vengerov (2003 onwards), pianist Fazil Say (2006 onwards), Soweto String Quartet and the MIAGI Orchestra (2002 onwards), percussionist Louis Moholo and jazz-pianist Irene Schweizer (2004),  Madosini and the Sontonga Quartet (2001), the Ngqoko Women, and Ladysmith Black Mambazo with the English Chamber Orchestra (2001, 2003 and 2005), the Ushaka tour to Europe (2004) with the Gauteng Choristers and several European orchestras of standing such as the Brucknerorchester Linz, and Miriam Makeba in her first-ever SA appearance with orchestra, the MIAGI Orchestra (2005).  MIAGI thus creates relevant entertainment in the context of a transforming South Africa. 
The MIAGI YOUTH ORCHESTRA will be performing as part of the Total MIAGI Festival, May 3rd 2008 at the Cape Town City Hall.
A smaller 20 piece ensemble, The MIAGI YOUTH CHAMBER ORCHESTRA will also perform on 14 May 20h00 Cape Town City Hall with Conductor Maxim Vengerov & on 18 May 20h00 Linder Auditorium Johannesburg with Conductor Maxim Vengerov.


For more information on MIAGI, the MIAGI YOUTH ORCHESTRA, and the Total MIAGI Festival, please contact: Lara Preston at Red Flag: (011) 447 8283, lara@redflag.co.za

Photos of MIAGI YOUTH ORCHESTRA applicants are available upon request