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.
In 2017, he conducted the Cuban-European Youth Orchestra in the last festival concert of Young Euro Classic, and now he returns for the opening concert! Duncan Ward already looks back upon an astounding range of musical experience. At 12, he composed his first musical, Alice in Wonderland – and conducted it with his own orchestra at his school in the British county of Kent. Soon after, he founded his own band, “The Grasshoppers”, accompanied silent movies at the piano, became a member of the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, and was proclaimed “Composer of the Year” at the BBC Competition in 2005. From 2012 to 2014, Ward became the first conductor to join the Orchestra Academy of the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as Simon Rattle’s assistant. The past season brought his debuts with the Orchestras of the Bavarian Radio and the MDR Radio Leipzig, the Orchestre national de France, Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Ensemble Intercontemporain in Paris. This year, he conducts the BBC Philharmonic, the Dresden Philharmonic and the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. At the Nederlands Opera he leads Bernstein’s Trouble in Tahiti and Macmillan’s Clemency. Duncan Ward has regularly conducted and composed for the MIAGI Youth Orchestra since 2013.
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!