The MIAGI Team

Intercultural, major compositions commissioned and premiered by MIAGI: 2001-2002


2007 - 2009




2013 - 2014




To unite the power of classical, indigenous and jazz and thus offer a key to positive social development and to deep understanding between people across all borders

“Sustainable development and the flourishing of culture are interdependent”


  • Consolidating democracy and promoting human rights
  • Poverty reduction in the long-term

MIAGI addresses the issue of ethnic relations through its all-inclusive programming. By offering a platform for intercultural creative dialogue, MIAGI brings young people, artists and audiences together that would otherwise never meet.

MIAGI promotes music education for children and youth as an effective tool for social upliftment. Studies world-wide show that music education and participation in musical activities are the right tools to awaken young people’s creative vocation, promote social development and community cohesion, develop life skills and enhance career opportunities.


Photo from left to right:

Top: Munashe Muchina – Education, Sisa Chumi - Office Administration & Logistics, Lerato Phage – Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music (CMCM) Administration Middle: Robert Brooks – Executive Director, Kabelo Kgoebane - Financial Administration, Ingrid Hedlund – Creative Manager Bottom: Chris Bishop - Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music (CMCM) Principal


The MIAGI Section 21 Company – not for gain: Music Is A Great Investment (Reg. No. 2001/015788/08)

MIAGI financial management: Equilibro Solutions CC

MIAGI auditors: Deco Chartered Accountants

MIAGI board

Directors: Maria Kurian (Acting Chairperson), Junior John Ngulube, Robert Brooks, Klaus Döring
Members: Ingrid Hedlund, Matthew Krouse, Elizabeth Lindbergh, Rhulani Madale, Semane Molotlegi, Mikael Strandänger, Rod Tennant, Rudolph Willemse


MIAGI – Music Is A Great Investment – is a non-profit (Section 21) company established in 2001 with the support of the Department of Arts and Culture. Our purpose is twofold: to present international, intercultural music events, and to create a sustainable future for music education initiatives in South Africa.

The main objective through MIAGI’s ongoing programmes is to make music education available to an increasing number of youth in South Africa especially in the rural and disadvantaged areas. Our programmes focus not only on the classical forms of instruction but also incorporate jazz and indigenous music.

Xincayincayi dancers - Caravan Dance Group

Motivation: The benefits of access to music education and training to society and to the individual are well documented. Studies have demonstrated that when music education is made available on a massive scale there are tangible results in terms of lower crime rates, less drug abuse and in general far better academic and social performance among schoolchildren - Music can trigger beneficial psycho-physic mechanisms that cannot be induced by any other activity as effectively.

MYO Orchestra Course 2005

Among MIAGI’s primary activities is to both in South Africa and abroad regularly arrange events, and facilitate encounters through our international partner organisations,  where young aspiring South African professional musicians and music students are offered unique opportunities to learn from their renowned, top qualified colleagues and role models, active on the international stages.

MIAGI has in the past 17 years brought world-acclaimed musicians and ensembles to engage with our young musician, among these: the eminent violinist Maxim Vengerov, jazz legend Miriam Makeba, vocalists Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Gauteng Choristers, Brucknerorchester Linz, the English Chamber Orchestra, Kammerorchester Basel, Ngqoko Women Xhosa overtone singers, jazz percussion icon Louis Moholo, prominent mezzo-soprano Sibongile Khumalo, star pianist Fazil Say and trumpet sensation Sergei Nakariakov. Thus MIAGI introduces South African music and musicians to audiences and artists worldwide. We inspire dialogue among people of different cultures through an intense process of artistic exchange that includes commissioning new intercultural compositions. This underlines our objective to educate in the broadest sense of the word – MIAGI unites people through music and empowers musicians throughout South Africa.

Miriam Makeba, the MIAGI Orchestra, 2005

MIAGI Funders & Sponsors: MIAGI has support from local government, the corporate sector and the international community. Our supporters througout the years include the National Lotteries Commission (formerly National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund), the Department of Arts and Culture (ongoing), the European Union, the Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria through Sida, and the Embassy of Finland (2001-2010). Within the corporate sector: Sunday Times (2003 – 2005), Nokia (2003 – 2005), Total SA (2005 – 2008), ABSA (2009), Lanxess (ongoing). MIAGI is also enjoying support through the Oppenheimer Memorial Trust (ongoing), the Graham and Rhona Beck Foundation and the Rupert Foundation.

MIAGI Patrons: Our patrons are President Martti Ahtisaari, peace-facilitator, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2008 and former President of Finland.

Maxim Vengerov, internationally renowned violinist and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

Dr José Antonio Abreu, UNESCO Ambassador for Music and Peace and creator of the national system of children’s’ and youth orchestras and choirs in Venezuela (FESNOJIV, also known as El Sistema).

MIAGI has been appointed a co-operating organisation by the South African National Commission for UNESCO.

MIAGI Marketing: Through MIAGI’s extensive network in South Africa and abroad, effective data of marketing partners has been accumulated. We also have a vibrant and informative website, feature on Youtube, and obviously also make use of social networks on internet such as Facebook.

MIAGI Media support: Over the past ten years MIAGI has had extensive media support locally and internationally. Media partners included Sunday Times, Mail & Guardian, The Sowetan, Hamburger Abendblatt, SABC, Deutsche Welle, NDR – North German television, national German radio, ORF – Austrian radio and television.

MIAGI features were further presented among others on CNN, Sky, BBC, Al Jazeera, Television Suisse and in South Africa on Carte Blanche and KykNet.

Venda girls and Ngoma drum



Xincayincayi dancers - CDG

For more information call +27 12 320 5154 or email info@miagi.co.za


Music can bridge divides - this well-known statement has also been a conviction of South African concert and opera singer Robert Brooks for many years and it lead him to together with his partner, the Finnish pianist Ingrid Hedlund, create MIAGI – Music Is A Great Investment.

Born in South Africa, Brooks left the country in 1979 to further his music education in Europe. It was only 20 years later that he returned to South Africa.

During those 20 years, Brooks established a reputation as a versatile and distinguished singer. However, his unwavering commitment and belief in the power of music led him to interrupt his professional singing career and return to his mother country to set up MIAGI (originally called the International Classical Music Festival or ICMF), a dynamic not-for-profit organization  aimed at empowering musicians throughout South Africa. But MIAGI is about more than this; it is also about promoting music education as an effective tool for positive social development.

Arts and cultural activities act as catalysts for community revitalisation and regeneration efforts and can make a difference to health, crime and employment in communities where these needs are the greatest. Music also has an incredible and miraculous power. What is especially compelling is a combination of groundbreaking behavioural studies and neurological research that shows how music study, especially if begun in early childhood is far superior to computer instruction in dramatically enhancing children’s abstract reasoning skills, the skills necessary for learning maths and science. And music goes even further, far beyond that; the Greek mathematician and philosopher Pythagoras, who as far as we can possibly know in modern times (Pythagoras studied at Heliopolis in Egypt and he died 500 BCE), used music in a highly methodical way. He used certain music to heal certain psychological and physical disturbances and diseases, he knew exactly 'what music to prescribe when', and was apparently an amazingly successful healer! Pythagoras is also nothing less than the 'father' of modern mathematics, and his theorem for musical scales, harmonies and intervals are still the root of Western music.

Since 2001, MIAGI has hosted an international, intercultural festival which has seen collaborations with artists and ensembles such as Miriam Makeba, Soweto String Quartet, Maxim Vengerov, Louis Moholo, Irene Schweizer, Ngqoko Women Xhosa over-tone singers, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Fazil Say, Duncan Ward, and the English Chamber Orchestra. MIAGI has also commissioned 14 major intercultural works (many of these works are now frequently performed during international tours and in South Africa), and facilitated numerous international opportunities and tours for South African soloists, ensembles and music students. Recently, 2014, MIAGI Youth Orchestra performed to a sold out hall, the Berliner Philarmonie seating 1700 - the Berlin Philharmonic Hall is by many considered the most prestigious hall of its kind in Europe.

We at MIAGI, spend most of our time working on and supporting music education initiatives, Brooks and Hedlund say, “Unfortunately the very nature of education means these projects will never be self-sustaining – they will always require funding – but we can make these projects sustainable by investing in humans so that they can have the know-how to set up the infrastructure and impart their knowledge, enabling them to link to other sustainable funding structures. MIAGI also gives budding artists, increased opportunities to build their careers locally, rather than feeling a need of leaving South Africa. MIAGI offers scholarships and has also set up a mentor protégé programme. We have already had many successful protégés go through the programme, one of them is Pretty Yende. Since some time now, Pretty has become known on the international music scene through winning first prizes in next to all prestigous international singing competitions there is in the world. She currently pursues an extremely successful international career, singing title roles at all major opera stages in the world.

Music can play a fundamental role in the new South Africa, in the process of overcoming the negative repercussions of discrimination. MIAGI is privileged to have the support of the South African and several European governments, UNICEF and both local and international corporates".


Intercultural compositions - 2001 until today

MIAGI introduces South African music to audiences worldwide by commissioning new works combining indigenous and traditional with classical styles, thus promoting our music heritage internationally.


  • ‘Menu of Poetic Dances’ - overture by Mekinzewi for orchestra and indigenous instruments (talking drums and open-ended membrane drums) based on the African concept of music as sonic dance, and dance as visual music

Mekinzewi, Nigerian born composer and African percussionist, is currently professor of African Performance Practice at the University of Pretoria. This composition was written for the Soccajasco Kids destitute children initiative and chamber orchestra. It was premiered at the Festival by the Soccajasco Kids and the English Chamber Orchestra.

“The harmonic scheme of this work derives more from the matching and layering of complementing themes (the African social-creative philosophy of individuality in communality) than from chordal harmonic principles”. (Mekinzewi)

  • 'Arrangements for Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LBM) and Chamber Orchestra' by Michael Hankinson

The UK born in South Africa active conductor/arranger/composer Michael Hankinson’s arrangements of some of legendary LBM creator Joseph Shabalala’s compositions - this blend of African classical Isicathamiya and the sounds of a Western classical orchestra was premiered at the Festival by LBM and the English Chamber Orchestra.

“The by-laws were tough...our boys could not carry on expressing themselves through their Ndlamu dance because it was illegal to do so in a municipal area. The Zulu dance they loved so much was prevented as the thumping and thudding were deemed to be contravening by-laws - legislated as  public disturbance. But nothing was to stop them to engage in their own thing, their sentimental song - they converted the laws into their own advantage and invented a new genre of music and dance. They copied the classical tonic sol-fa music of the white and merged it with their Zulu dancing but this time the foot stomping was polished and radically toned down into a  tap while rhythmically  sneaking around the dance floor. So, because their act on the dance floor, the soft tapping controlled voices (against  the thumping and thudding) and the  sneaking around, the genre was aptly named Isicathamiya - which is to sneak around". (Khaba Mkhize)



  • 'The Songs of Madosini' -  incidental music for mhruhbe, isitolotolo, uhadi, voice, clarinet quintet and narrator, based on a selection of songs by Latozi Mphaleni from Mpondoland (better known as Madosini), by Hans Huyssen

After having lived and studied in Europe for 14 years, South African-born Hans Huyssen returned home in pursuit of a to him relevant local form of contemporary music.

"With this work we wish to draw the attention on the precarious situation of 'The Songs of Madosini'this very form of music, which is on the verge of becoming extinct. If we succeed to step out of our conventional listening habits and lend Madosini our ears, she treats us with the invaluable experience of a musical expression, which, in its purity and stillness, can best be compared to the quality untouched pristine landscapes evoke - such as those, in which similar songs where resounding centuries ago. But best of all: Madosini is well alive; her music is no artificial tradition or dry reconstruction of something gone by. She carries within her a spirit, which hardly survives anymore in our rational and hectic times, but which deserves all the more to be nurtured by all who care for life's fully abundant and diverse expressions.”  (Hans Huyssen)

  • 'Arrangements for the Soweto String Quartet (SSQ), Jazz-trumpet, Kora, Mbira and Chamber Orchestra' by Bruce Cassidy

Arrangements of SSQ hits, music by Ravel and Cassidy by Bruce Cassidy, Canadian born jazz trumpeter and composer who collaborated with some of the finest Jazz musicians of our time such as Duke Ellington, Quincy Jones and Oscar Peterson, for the Khemese brothers from Soweto - SSQ – the four first truly famous ‘classical’ representatives for the melding of classical music with their homeland’s traditional rhythms and musical styles (the arrangements can be heard on SSQ's ‘Our World’ CD featuring the Khemese brothers together with the MIAGI Orchestra).

'Our World' - SSQ SSQ & Cassidy



  • ‘Lifecycle’ – composition by Jeanne Zaidel–Rudolph for the Ngqoko Women Xhosa overtone singers and classical ensemble of wood winds, strings and percussion

South African composer Jeanne Zaidel–Rudolph, is a frequent guest composer and lecturer at festivals in Europe and the USA where she specialises in talks on indigenous African music and its influence on South African composers. The Ngqoko Women from Ladyfrere, a group of twelve Xhosa women representing traditional  Xhosa overtone singing from the Eastern Cape.

“The themes of their songs gave rise to the title, Lifecycle, which depicts very important aspects and religious and social occasions in the life of the community. I have attempted to facilitate the natural music and abilities of the group and have tried to embrace the spirit that is intrinsic in the music. The ‘overtone’ or ‘split tone’ singing generates earthy and vibrant colours and makes the music of this group unique and exciting. The singers accompany themselves with three kinds of bows and two drums, namely, the uhadi (calabash bow), the umrhube (mouth bow), the inkinge (friction bow with petrol tin), the ugubu (two-sided drum) and the umasengwane (friction drum). “ (Jeanne Zaidel-Rudolph)

'Lifecycle' Nqgoko Women

  • 'Arrangements for Ladysmith Black Mambazo (LBM) and Chamber Orchestra' by Isak Roux

South African Composer and pianist Isak Roux, currently working and living in Germany, builds bridges between South African and European/American musical traditions. A series of arrangements for Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Chamber Orchestra have been premiered by the English Chamber Orchestra and LBM at the MIAGI Festival; at the inaugural Festival in 2001 (the arragements by Michael Hankinsson) and in 2003 (the arrangements by isak Roux). In 2005, the LBM CD, ‘No Boundaries’, featuring Roux's arrangements was released and nominated for Grammy Award in 2006. The arrangements include classical LBM hits based on indigenous music and the African colonial music culture, as well as choral works by Bach, Schubert and Mozart.

  • ‘Composition for Sitar, Tabla, Oboe and Strings’ by Vevek Ram

Vevek Ram is one of the most renowned representatives (both as sitar player and composer) of Indian classical music in South Africa. A disciple of a.o. Ustad Shamim Ahmed Khan Mr Ram’s Musical System is North Indian - Hindustani Classical. The work was premiered at the MIAGI Festival in 2003 by the English Chamber Orchestra and soloists, Haren Tanna (tabla) and Vevek Ram (sitar). A later permiere of the revised version included oboist Paulus van der Merwe.

“The composition is based on the contemplative Raga called Parameshwan. The structure of the piece follows the tratdition of typical classical Indian music performance. The first part of any performance is called Alap, in which the principal mood of the Raga is introduced and developed. The second part of a performance is called Jor and is an extension of the Alap but with the exception that a rhythm is introduced. In the third section, the pizzicato strings provide a continuous beat reference in which the sitar and solo violin play the traditional Gat. The concluding section is the Jhala, characterized by fast Rhythm and melodic passages, ending with a Tihai which literally means pattern of three”. (Vevek Ram)


  • 'Arrangements for Miriam' - arrangements for one of South Africa's greatest, living legends Miriam Makeba, and a classical orchestra, by Denzil Weale

The performances of these arrangements at the MIAGI Festival 2005 were Makeba’s first performances in South Africa together with a classical orchestra and marked the beginning of her retreat from the stages of the world. Performer, arranger and composer Denzil Weale regularly collaborates with South Africa’s most renowned artists, both in South Africa and on extensive tours abroad.

Miriam Makeba Following Makeba hits were arranged by Weale: When I've Passed On - William Salter, Sunrise Sunset - J Bocks/S Harrnick, You Are In Love - William Salter, Sleep Tight - William Salter, Muntu (Lullaby) - Caiphus Semenya, Malaika, In Time  - Cedric Samson, Africa Is Where My Heart Lies - Marvin Moses, Umhome - Miriam Makeba


Lerole & Roux
  • 'Adaptations of Mozart and Kwela for Pennywhistles and Orchestra' by Isak Roux

The ‘50s were some of the worse years for black people, yet the music then created was upbeat and defiantly happy. The rural Pedi, Venda and Tswana had always used reed pipes for their ‘bush concertos’. The urban teenagers integrated this influence along with elements of imported American swing and the popular craze of African jazz. It was during this time that the grand plan to purge the streets and white suburbs of black faces really gathered momentum. Freedom of expression was forbidden by the State and the circle of street musicians playing pennywhistles were the target of a lot of police harassment. When rounding up the street musicians, in those days regarded by the state as a menace to society, the police would shout ‘kwela, kwela’ which means ‘climb up, climb up’ (into the police van). Kwela was popularized by Lemmy 'Special' Mabaso, who performed on streets and at local functions (discovered by promoters at age ten). The standard line-up was two penny-whistles, a home-made guitar and tea-chest bass. After 'Tom Hark' was recorded by Elias and Jakes Lerole (photograph of Jakes at the top right on the 'about us' page), the term was used indiscriminately to describe any black township music.

At the MIAGI Festival 2005 the three brothers from the Sowetan pennywhistle group Kwela Tebza were joined by their legendary father Elias Lerole and the MIAGI Orchestra.



  •  ‘Ciacona & Tshikona – Dance from North and South' - composition for Thikundwi kha Sialala (Venda Ngoma drummers and dancers), kudu horns and orchestra by Hans Huyssen

success pic

Click here to watch and listen to excerpts from this event on Youtube!

This composition relies on a Western orchestra to meet the demands of the concert situation, in which the music itself makes the running and the audience is involved only passively, but its essential structure is derived from an African from of musical expression embedded in the social occasion, when people gather to participate actively.

Tshikona is the Venda national dance and the most important form of communal music. Tshikona is ‘the time when people rush to the scene of the dance and leave their pots to boils over’: it ‘makes old men throw away their sticks and dance’ and ‘brings peace to the countryside’. Tshikona needs a set of drums – ngoma, murumba, and mutungwa – and many dancers, each playing a differently tuned reed-pipe. The music is structured so that each participant provides just a single note, like a coloured strand in a woven cloth. To play one’s part of the melody while moving in harmony in a large crowd of performers and spectators generates individuality in community and so combines self with others in a way fundamental to Venda culture. Soon after the tshikona ensemble has been introduced, its energy engulfs the whole orchestra, drawing everyone into the swirl of a musical carousel in which eventually even the Western instruments sacrifice their individualistic expression and succumb to the excitement of an ecstatic communal experience.

The first historic record of a chaconne (tshikona?) mentions it as a ‘wild and sensual’ Mexican dance imported into sixteenth-century Spain. Could this be etymological evidence of an ancient connection between American and African cultures? It is an intriguing thought!

Ciacona & Tshikona Ciacona & Tshikona2


  • ‘Coming Home’ - jazz gospel cantata by Isak Roux, sung and spoken in English, Zulu, Sesotho and Afrikaans

Coming home was written for the MIAGI 2008 Festival and the following performers; Sibongile Khumalo (mezzo soprano), Robert Brooks (tenor), Thinus Maree (baritone), Sibongile Mngoma (narrator), Isak Roux (piano) with the Gauteng Choristers, the Chamber Orchestra of Johannesburg and an all star jazz rhythm section conducted by Kutlwano Masote.

The work takes the form of a multilingual cantata, drawing on the biblical story of the Prodigal Son the work combines musical and narrative forms to dramatise a basic facet of the human condition: the definitive role of one's origins and cultural heritage in bringing value and meaning to life. Roux creates a synthesis of Afro-American 'negro-spiritual' tradition and local ethnic jazz-kwela and other township rhythms. This African fusion is set within the classical choral-cantata genre to produce a powerful blending of vocal and orchestral effects. The use of indigenous texts reinforces the final joyful theme of a troubled wanderer returning home to rediscover his true identity and refresh his spirit.



  • Jazz Fantasia by the late South African composer, Gideon Nxumalo was arranged for Symphony Orchestra and Big Band by leading South African pianist and arranger, Denzil Weale.

The work was performed in the Linder Auditorium on 2 May, 2009 and during the MIAGI Youth Orchestra & Youth BigBand tour of Germany, to the Sommerliche Musiktage Festival in Kasse and the Young Euro Classic festival (YEC) in Berlin. YEC is one of the most perstigous festivals of it's kind in the world, and it is held annually at the Berlin Konzerthaus. Upon our return to South Africa the MIAGI Youth Orchestra hosted the National Youth Orchestra and National Youth Big Band of the Federal Republic of Germany during their tour of South Africa between 27 August and 08 September. The two orchestras shared a common repertoire piece during the two tours in the form of Nxumalo's Jazz Fantasia.

Gideon Nxumalo

Gideon Nxumalo, perhaps one of South Africa’s greatest unsung musical heroes. A gifted composer, writer, actor and artist Nxumalo was largely self-taught. He became an accomplished pianist but also played various instruments such as the clarinet, cello, the viola and what he called ‘the chopi chopsticks’ – the marimba. He composed orchestral works, plays, musicals, symphonies, overtures, jingles and musical themes and worked as music teacher and a talent scout and had a great influence on those he taught, amongst them the likes of Philip Tabane, Morris Manana and Allen Kwela. Gideon Nxumalo or Mgibe, as his admirers called him, passed away on 24 December 1970 at the young age of 40, but his works remain.




  • 'Rebirth' for full orchestra, two marimbas, soprano saxophone and saxophone section with African and orchestral percussion, by Steve Dyer. Premiere performance: MIAGI Youth Orchestra Gala Concert, May 2010

Steve Dyer

Mail & Guardian's Gwen Ansell: Article about the work 5 May,2010

Composer Steve Dyer is definitely on a high. He's concluding rehearsals for the world premiere of his large-scale work, Rebirth, to be played at this weekend's Miagi festival, but his ebullience stems from what preceded that: a month-long national auditioning process for the Miagi Youth Big Band.

"From what I've seen, the future of orchestral music in this country is indigenous and will be so by merit. I've heard so many fantastic young players -- especially string players. All we need now are more real composers' commissions and grooming for young conductors to match the riches we have in players."

Dyer conceived Rebirth as a bridge across "the barriers between so-called classical, jazz and indigenous traditions. If you're working with kids in their formative years, why categorise music for them in any way?"

Dyer's resistance to boxes and barriers started during his own formal music education: "I felt I needed to break free." With Rebirth, the man better known as a jazz saxophonist "decided to explore new palettes of form, texture and sound rather than the standard jazz combo. And gently," he says, laughing, "I slid into composing a 40-minute work for 117 people!"

Rebirth has five movements, divided not thematically but by length and mood. "Thematic material links the movements and the pacing will, I hope, take the listener on a journey that can be celebrated emotionally, rather than theorised."

As a saxophonist, he's been particularly interested in writing for the reed section. "For me, the woodwind sound in classical music immediately dates it, whereas a saxophone always speaks of the contemporary. What I've tried to do here is also to bridge between two eras of reed sound."

Dyer plays the soprano saxophone part in the work, described in the programme as "lead", but "not in the sense of a concerto where leading means displays of virtuosity. What's far more important in this piece is the way all the instruments relate to one another. Playing the music is a collective journey."

Fostering genuine collaboration was one of Dyer's concerns as a composer. "When you think of how much effort players invest in rehearsal and performance, I think it's important for composers to make it worth their while in terms of creative space. That wasn't too hard. The question I still haven't answered, though, is how to drive a very fast car on the autobahn: how to fully use the power of such a large group of performers."

His other focus was "expressing our uniqueness on this continent". He's used various strategies to do this. "There are some traditional forms in the music that evoke Pedi pipes, Tshikona music or marabi. I tried to look at orchestral instruments with a fresh eye: asking myself, for example, how I can elicit sounds from a French horn that could come closer to a kudu horn? And then there's rhythm. We have a substantial rhythm section, because this is an African work. Cross-rhythms are fundamental, not simply to underpin a melody, but to play an equal role in unfolding the music."

For Dyer, Rebirth is the start of a journey he sees as vital for South African music. "We need to strip the myths of elitism and exclusion away from orchestral music. For example, playing every note as instructed by the score in front of you is relatively new: earlier classical music encouraged improvisation in the cadenzas. Orchestral music can link to and feed off other art forms, as African music has always done with dance. And certain instruments and styles don't belong only to one group. In Venezuela music education initiatives have made concert music the music of the masses. When they play Bach or Beethoven there, it's as equal in the repertoire with new music by indigenous composers."

Dyer is heartened by the number of music-education initiatives now in South Africa, "but there's still a territoriality about some of what's happening. What we need is for all these initiatives and ideas to come together. And, of course," he says, sighing, "for it to happen like [it does in] Venezuela, we need serious government buy-in."



  • Paul Hanmer’s overture for orchestra and piano, ‘Halo-gram’, with Paul at the piano, opened the MIAGI Youth Orchestra and Youth BigBand Gala Concert 2011.
Paul Hanmer is a South African composer, pianist and one of the country’s foremost jazz musicians. His band, ‘Unofficial Language’ together with drummer Ian Herman and bassist Pete Sklair released two albums, ‘Move Moves’ and ‘Primal Steps’. Hanmer’s first solo album, ‘Trains to Taung’ was released by Sheer Sound and he also performed and recorded with Sheer All Stars, producing Gloria Bosman’s debut album ‘Tranquillity’. Five more albums followed, ‘Window to Elsewhere’, ‘Playola’, ‘Naivasha’, ‘Water and Lights’ and ‘Accused No 1: Nelson Mandela’. Hanmer has also composed numerous chamber music works for outstanding South African musicians, including a clarinet quintet for Robert Pickup and a suite of duets for double bass and cello for Leon Bosch. Influenced by Keith Jarrett, Hanmer's music is at times cerebral and minimalist but always distinctly South African, with strong flavours of the Cape Flats and the Friday afternoon township gumba. Hanmer has worked with artists including Grammy Award winner Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masekela, Jonathan Butler, Pops Mohamed, Sipho Gumede and McCoy Mrubata



  • Christian Muthspiel: 'Out of South Africa' - Symphonic Poem on Themes by Tshepo Tsotetsi. This work was commissioned by MIAGI and premiered at the MIAGI Youth Orchestra councert in the Linder Autitorium, Johannesburg on 15 July 2012. Premieres in European countries took place during the MIAGI Youth Orchestra Tour of Europe July/August 2012 starting at the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele.

Christian Muthspiel and Tshepo Tsotetsi

Christian Muthspiel's description of "Out of South Africa", Symphonic Poem on Themes by Tshepo Tsotetsi:

In spring 2011, during the first phase of my work in Johannesburg as conductor of the MIAGI Youth Orchestra, I was particularly impressed by the music and the dances, which the young musicians rehearsed and performed in the evenings after the rehearsal sessions, or practiced “merely” for their own pleasure. The unconditional passion and ferocity displayed in the dancing and drumming and in the all over singing and music making,  brought a wealth of African traditions before my eyes and sparked in me the desire to draw on this source of power within the orchestra, particularly since my own affinity for jazz and improvised music came into play. In discussions with the energetic and devoted founders of the organization, MIAGI Executive Director Robert Brooks and Creative Director Ingrid Hedlund, a concept was gradually developed to realize this idea.

In the evenings Tshepo Tsotetsi, a highly talented ‘activist’ musician from the orchestra, compiled bands and ensembles to rehearse and perform his own compositions in the exciting playfield between South African folk and jazz. He had brought a variety of works with him, and in addition to his performing as composer and bandleader, he was also to be marveled in his abilities as saxophonist and clarinetist. (It was all in all noticeable, that many of the young musicians in the orchestra could improvise wonderfully and felt equally at home in both jazz and classical music).

In fall 2011 Tshepo Tsotetsi visited me in Vienna. Together we worked on a selection of his themes and pieces that would provide material for my new orchestral piece. My choice finally fell on two of his compositions, ‘Boroto’ and ‘Mbira’. These works will also be heard in their original form in the composition, interpreted by a small jazz ensemble prepared by Tsotetsi. The orchestra then gradually grows out of this ensemble, transforming Tsotetsi’s themes into a symphonic world whilst playing with them, "using" them in the best sense of the word.

In the course of the composition a solo violin emerges from the orchestra for a few minutes, only to return to the jazz ensemble after the end of the solo and thus return "back to Africa".  A solo instrument - a small ensemble - a symphony orchestra: These unites of different size are also played with in this composition that  I very consciously and deliberately envisaged as an opening work for a concert, but also as an opening to visionary possibilities of global intercultural learning and mutual respect that I was privileged to compose on commission by MIAGI.

(Christian Muthspiel, April 2012)

2013 - 2014

Anders Paulsson (*1961) – Celebration Suite Anders Paulsson (a MIAGI commissioned composition based on songs from South Africa’s Freedom Struggle) (21’)

I. Celebration
II. Reconciliation
III. Makeba Reflections
IV. Kudu Blues
V. Amaqhawe * Heroes

Celebration Suite is a MIAGI commissioned composition composed by Swedish soprano saxophonist and composer Anders Paulsson to celebrate ’20 Years of Democracy in South Africa’. The composition was commissioned within the frame of a partner driven cooperation project between MIAGI South Africa and two major educational institutions in Stockholm, Sweden, Lilla Akademien and Fryshuset. This project has been funded by the Embassy of Sweden in Pretoria through Sida. Celebration Suite is based on songs from South Africa’s Freedom Struggle.

“The ‘Celebration Suite’ music is dedicated to all those Heroes / Amaqhawe who strived for and sometimes even sacrificed their lives in order to establish and uphold a Rainbow Nation, a multiethnic and peaceful South Africa.” Anders Paulsson


Duncan Ward, Celebration Music MIAGIccata, Lux Saltatus and Mambasamba

This work, connecting Monteverdi with ancient African traditional and jazz music was performed by the at the '125 Years ABB' celebrations in Switzerland in October 2016