Minnesota is first US orchestra to enter Soweto

Minnesota is first US orchestra to enter Soweto


norman lebrecht

August 17, 2018

On tour in South Africa, the Minnesota Orchestra is about to pay a visit to the all-African township of Soweto, home to the late president Nelson Mandela. The cvisit was prompted by music director Osmo Vänskä, who wants to break down perceptions that orchestral music is predominantly a white art form and is reportedly dismayed that audiences so far have been mostly white.

Soweto was the scene of a 1976 student uprising that left hundreds dead and injured as a result of police fire.

Report here.


  • Caravaggio says:

    More Minnesota/Vänskä gushing. I am sure they will soon be the first to play on planet Mars too.

    • Jewelyard says:

      Why so bitter? I think it’s fantastic that Osmo/the board have a vision of musical experiences that are different, forward-thinking, and inclusive. Bravo to everyone involved and safe journey!

      • William Ford says:

        They are not “inclusive” if the desired group doen’t show up. By what was reported, it’s an inclusive fail.

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      I am sure that Barenboim will head to Mars before Vänskä.

    • Pamela Brown says:

      And skip playing on the moon?

      • Mélomane says:

        Actually, Barenboim will play on the moon on his way to Mars and will perform as soloist in at least two piano concertos at each stop. Perhaps he needs the money. But in any event it will be his usual boring run through of the works, lots of italicizing this phrase or that, but no sense of overall architecture and no musicality. Zzzzzz.

    • Elizabeth Erickson says:

      What’s your problem? It is a big deal to pull a tour off like this. Nobody in Africa knows who the Minnesota Vikings are but our orchestra and our theater organizations are known around the world.

  • William E Ford says:

    Apparently, there is something wrong with classical music being a “white” art form?

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Good luck to them but what audience did they expect? Io saw them at a Prom in London, non-white people in the audience perhaps in double figures.

  • V.Lind says:

    *Soweto was the scene of a 1976 student uprising that left hundreds dead and injured as a result of police fire.*

    Rather more than that, surely.

  • Lord Bus Stop says:

    This Soweto visit by the Minnesota Orchestra is such a cool idea! It makes me very excited to think about what both the audience and the orchestra will see and hear. I wish I could be there…to hear and see…

  • MacroV says:

    This sounds great, all the naysaying above notwithstanding. It’s good they’ll be working with a South African chorus and soloists, and play some South African music. That’s how you share music across cultures. I agree this would be a lame event if they just showed up and played Beethoven for the Sowetans.

  • Maximum Warp says:

    Lets get some perspective on the Mandelas, shall we:

    The “rainbow nation” utopia is fast disintegrating.

    Multiculturalism= no culture.