Johannesburg, 18 August, 2022, The Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra (Mzansi NPO) was proud to partner with the Turquoise Harmony Institute (THI) at a recent performance in Johannesburg aimed at highlighting the plight of asylum seekers and refugees, who are among the world’s most disenfranchised people. The intention was to reframe the refugee experience, shifting the debate away from refugee statistics and refocusing on the attitudes of those who may not be sure who refugees even are, creating connections through common experiences and increased understanding.
This performance succeeds an inaugural week where the Mzansi NPO performed to sold-out houses as part of William Kentridge’s “Oh to Believe in Another World”, which celebrated Wits University’s 100th Anniversary.
Under the baton of Mzansi NPO’s associate conductor, Kutlwano Masote, the orchestra accompanied some of South Africa’s finest artists. This stellar line-up featured PJ Powers, Msaki, Thandi Ntuli, Neill Solomon, Rock Steady Dub, Lebo Mashile, Bienvenue Nseka, Pops Mohamed and Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse. The Mzansi NPO demonstrated that an orchestra can be at the base of an idea that represents good neighbourliness, tolerance, togetherness, and beauty when we come together.
The concert also premiered Don Laka’s “Like the Moon”, commissioned by Mzansi NPO, which was a homage to the victims of the recent KwaZulu-Natal floods and the Covid-19 pandemic. This was performed by the Ijadu Chorus and accompanied by the Mzansi NPO.
Two new arrangements for the concert, namely Refugee (Come Home) performed by Sipho Mabuse and Women of Africa performed by PJ Powers, were newly arranged and written by the associate conductor, Kutlwano Masote.
Sipho “Hotstix” Mabuse commented that “the Refugees Concert was another milestone in creating awareness of the plight of displaced people. Participation by all the musicians, including the Mzansi NPO, forges a united front against the plight of refugees. This is commendable and to be encouraged, the Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra remains an integral part of South Africa’s development and advancement of the arts, music in particular”.
Further commenting on working with the Mzansi NPO, singer, songwriter and composer Maski said, “I was honoured to have collaborated with Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra and I loved working with these musicians across various settings. I respect the fact that this Orchestra is a moving entity, is inclusive and has musicians that are excellent and who hail from many of our provinces.”
Ayhan Cetin, Executive Director of Turquoise Harmony Institute, said, “We are delighted to have collaborated with Mzansi National Philharmonic Orchestra for this concert and we look forward to a long and fruitful partnership.”
Samson Diamond, lecturer and leader of the Odeion String Quartet at the University of the Free State and associate concertmaster of the Mzansi NPO, led the Mzansi NPO through a range of songs from PJ Powers – from the ever-popular and embracing song, Jabulani, to Neil Solomon’s new song, Homeland,which was publicly launched at this concert.
This was the 3rd concert that the Turquoise Harmony Institute (THI) presented with the aim of bringing hope, awareness and advocacy to our country’s and continent’s refugees.
Other partner organisations that contributed to making this concert possible, include: the Nelson Mandela Foundation, Amnesty International, Department of Sports, Arts and Culture, Universal Rights Association, Wits University, Flame Studios, Horizon Educational Trust, Mail and Guardian, Time to Care, Scalabrini Centre, JT Communication, Music in Africa, SAMRO, Concerts SA and Refugee Social Services. All monies raised from this concert will be used to help refugees in South Africa through respected charities such as Gift of the Givers, Three to Six schools, and various other programs at the Turquoise Harmony Institute.