Minnesota boldly goes where no US orchestra as gone before

The midwest orchestra was the first to visit Cuba.

This summer, it will be the US pathbreaker in South Africa, playing in ive cities in honour of Nelson Mandela’s birth centenary.

Minnesota will also put on a ten-concert ‘Music for Mandela’ project at home.

 

From the press release:

The impetus for a Minnesota Orchestra tour to South Africa grew out of Music Director Osmo Vänskä’s experience conducting the young musicians of the South African National Youth Orchestra (SANYO) in 2014 to celebrate SANYO’s 50th anniversary. The following year, Mr. Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra toured Cuba, which proved to be a profound experience for the organization, as conductor and musicians participated in musical exchanges with Cuban musicians. When the Orchestra adopted a new strategic plan in 2016, it identified musical diplomacy through touring and residencies as a defining part of the Orchestra’s character and an important means of fulfilling its mission of “enriching, inspiring and serving” its community.

“Conducting the students of SANYO was an unforgettable experience, and I knew then that I wanted to return to South Africa with the Minnesota Orchestra,” said Music Director Osmo Vänskä. “Music has important roots in Africa and plays a central role in South African culture today, both choral music and a growing orchestral tradition, and we are excited to experience and be part of this movement.” 

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    • Considering that Minnesota is the state in America with the largest number of Somali-born residents, that suggestion does have a certain logic.

      Of course, there is the pesky problem of security …

  • >”The midwest orchestra was the first to visit Cuba.”

    The Milwaukee Symphony played in Cuba sixteen years before, in 1999, after President Clinton loosened restrictions:

    http://articles.chicagotribune.com/1999-12-17/news/9912170071_1_milwaukee-symphony-orchestra-cuban-people-musicians

    The MSO mad a nice recording of Gershwin’s Cuban Overture while they were there:

    https://www.ebay.com/itm/THE-CUBA-CONCERTS-MILWAUKEE-SYMPHONY-ORCHESTRA-CD-C24-/401468996599

  • More interesting question who is paying for the tour? I doubt they could recoup the losses from ticket sales

  • CORRECTION……
    The Milwaukee Symphony went to Cuba long before the Minnesota Orchestra did.
    I believe it was in 1999!

      • Everyone played in Cuba at that time. Havana was a bastion of culture, and a common stop for many orchestras and any major soloist. That pretty much continued until 1960 or so.

  • The Minnesota Orchestra was the first to Cuba after President Obama initiated a thaw in the U.S. – Cuba diplomatic relationship. Good for Milwaukee, though.

    Also: Besides the donor couple, various large local corporations also are contributing to the Minnesota tour expenses.

  • 10 concert music for mandela series? what is the justification for than in Minnesota? I need help “getting” this.

  • The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra went to Cuba in December 1999. It was the first American orchestra to play there since Fidel Castro came to power in 1958!

    • Scroll up and read other comments….Sarah’s been pointing out that Minnesota went to Cuba in 1929 and 1930.

  • The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra went to Cuba in December 1999. It was the first American orchestra to play there since Fidel Castro came to power in 1959!

    • In case we didn’t get that, “The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra went to Cuba in December 1999. It was the first American orchestra to play there since Fidel Castro came to power in 1958!”

      • Yeah it’s true TVFA. And a more important visit than most people realized at the time, paving the way for trips like this.
        Anyone remember Elian G?

        • Those of us who did that 1999 trip all remember Elian G well!. It in no way compromised the overwhelming warm welcome given to the orchestra from the Cuban people.

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