MIAGI Youth Orchestra

© Frank De Villiers

Since its first performance at Young Euro Classic in 2009, the MIAGI Youth Orchestra has been an absolute audience favourite. The orchestra exudes a vibe of enthusiasm for its music that is rarely felt even at Berlin’s Konzerthaus. Since 2001, MIAGI – an abbreviation for “Music Is A Great Investment” – has pursued its goal of “bringing young people together and contributing to their positive social development.” The musicians are from all social strata of South Africa, and the MIAGI Youth Orchestra’s repertoire is purposefully broad: it includes everything from classical music to jazz and traditional African music as well as diverse kinds of South African music from the 1940s to the present day. Since 2008 MIAGI has also been running the Cape Gate MIAGI Centre for Music in Soweto, Johannesburg, where more than 300 young people are given a high-quality music education.  A second MIAGI music centre in Khayelitsha Township, Cape Town is in its advanced planning stage. The 2018 concert at Young Euro Classic is the finale of a month-long European tour, celebrating Nelson Mandela’s Centenary 2018 under the motto coined by MIAGI’s partner, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, ‘Be the Legacy’. The tour also takes the MIAGI Youth Orchestra to festivals in Schleswig-Holstein, Ludwigsburg and Villach, to Brussels and Amsterdam.


South Africa
August 3, 2018 8 pm

Konzerthaus, Berlin

Dr. Klaus Lederer

© SenatKultEuropa

Dr. Klaus Lederer was born in Mecklenburg in 1974 and spent his childhood and early adolescence in Frankfurt an der Oder. After the end of the GDR, he was active in leftist youth organizations and joined the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS) in 1992. He spent the 1990s studying law at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin’s law school, where he earned a doctorate, and working for the PDS as a local politician. In December 2005 Klaus Lederer was elected chair of the Berlin Left Party, a position he held until December 2016. From 2003 to January 2017, Dr. Lederer was a member of the Left Party parliamentary group in the House of Representatives, Berlin’s state legislature, and was its spokesperson on legal policy. Dr. Klaus Lederer has been Mayor and Senator for Culture and Europe in Berlin since December 2016.

Mayor and Senator for Culture and Europe in Berlin
Dr. Willi Steul

© Bettina Fürst

The former general director of Deutschlandradio (2009-2017) has an unusually intriguing biography: after studies in England and France and earning a PhD in ethnology, Steul spent almost 5 years studying blood vengeance in Afghanistan during the 1970s, teaching intermittently at the University of Kabul before turning to journalism for good. He reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan, from Beirut, Greece, Turkey and from the Gulf War in 1991 as an ARD correspondent. In 1994 he joined Deutschlandradio in Berlin as an editor in chief. In 1998 he became associate general director of the SWR and director for Baden-Württemberg; in 2009 he returned to Deutschlandradio as its general director. Dr. Willi Steul was awarded the German Cross of Merit and is a Commandeur of the French Ordre national du Mérite. He is one of the co-founders of Young Euro Classic and has been chairman of the Circle of Friends of European Youth Orchestras e.V., which has presented the festival since the year 2000.

Chairman of the German Circle of Friends of European Youth Orchestras e.V.
Ulrich Deppendorf


© ARD Hanna Lippman

Ulrich Deppendorf is a doyen of public television in Germany, whose appearance signalled important information on current world events – he moderated the Report from Berlin no less than 289 times. Berlin is the adopted home of this child of the Ruhr area, the place the 68-year-old feels at home. After studying law in Münster, he interned at the WDR, whose television programme director he ultimately became, after many successful years as an editor responsible for multiple features and programming areas, including “ARD aktuell” and its signature shows Tagesschau and Tagesthemen. That job interrupted his position as the head and chief editor of the ARD Capital Studio, which he then took up again from 2007 to 2015. To many, perhaps himself included, he thereby “returned home”.He finds it easy to deal with the gruff nature of the Berliners; perhaps it is also the city’s cultural riches that attract him. After all, the self-confessed classical music fan originally harboured quite a different dream profession: “I never regretted my decision to become a journalist, not even for one day. But in my next life, I would like to be a conductor.” As one of the founding fathers of Young Euro Classic, he has actively accompanied the festival from the very first minute. We hope this will remain the case for many years! In May of this year, he also became the chairman of the charitable association supporting the German Historical Museum Berlin.

Deputy Chairman of the German Circle of Friends of European Youth Orchestras e.V.
Duncan Ward

© Frank De Villiers

Duncan Ward is among the most sought-after conductors of the younger generation. At the suggestion of Sir Simon Rattle, the British conductor was admitted to the Karajan Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic, the first conductor ever to join the Academy from 2012 to 2014. From 2015 to 2017 he was principal conductor of the British ensemble Sinfonia Viva as well as associate conductor of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain. Recent highlights include engagements at the Orchestre de Paris, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra, the MDR Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the Bamberg Symphonic Orchestra, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, Ensemble Intercontemporain, the Residentie Orkest and the Orchestra Sinfonica Siciliana as well as his return to the Glyndebourne Festival, where he led Brett Dean’s opera Hamlet as part of the touring programme. During the 2017/18 season he conducted the Dresden Philharmonic, the Orchestre National de Belgique, the Trondheim Symphony and the double production of Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti and James MacMillan’s Clemency at the Netherlands Opera. He has worked repeatedly with the MIAGI Youth Orchestra, for the first time in Johannesburg in 2013, and has implemented many fascinating projects and tours with the organization over the course of the years.



Visser Liebenberg

© Antonia Steyn

The young clarinettist Visser Liebenberg has been a member oft he MIAGI Youth Orchestra for six years; he already performed as a soloist with the orchestra during his first European tour with MIAGI in 2012. Apart from his soloistic and chamber music activities, Liebenberg performs regularly with the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra and with the Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra. After graduating from the Stellenbosch Conservatory in his South African homeland with a bachelor’s degree, Liebenberg is now enrolled there in the project “Africa Open – Institute for Music Research and Innovation”, where he is exploring new clarinet techniques oriented towards the sound of indigenous South African music.





“Egmont” Overture in F-Minor Op. 84 (1810)


“The Firebird” Suite for Orchestra (1919)


“Prelude, Fugue and Riffs” (1949/52)


“Rainbow Beats” Suite for 100 Years Nelson Mandela (2018)

7 pm: Pre-Concert Talk with Dieter Rexroth at the Werner-Otto-Saal
Free admission for ticket holders at 6:45 pm


Once a MIAGI fan, you are likely to stay a MIAGI fan forever! Anyone witnessing the sound of this ensemble at its earlier performances in Berlin knows what awaits the audience at this year’s festival opening on August 3: electrifying verve and boundless enthusiasm from the first to the last note! The programme alone is enough to arouse curiosity: because two great charismatic men, Nelson Mandela and Leonard Bernstein, would have turned 100 years old this year, the MIAGI Youth Orchestra celebrates them extensively. Mandela dreamed of a society in which every person could have their place, regardless of background, race and colour – and that is what the new work Rainbow Beats reflects. The English conductor Duncan Ward has written it especially for this occasion, and the former assistant to Simon Rattle also conducts the orchestra. There is no question that he and his musicians, only slightly younger than their conductor – will put the audience at the Konzerthaus Berlin into the quintessential festival mood by performing Bernstein’s Prelude, Fugue and Riffs and Stravinsky’s Firebird Suite!

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