South African Guest Artists Announced for NYO Jazz, Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Jazz Orchestra Debut Tour

NYO Jazz

This July, Carnegie Hall’s critically-acclaimed national youth jazz orchestra, NYO Jazz, led by artistic director/trumpeter Sean Jones, returns for its seventh season of extraordinary music-making and embarks on its first-ever tour to South Africa from 22 July to 5 August. This remarkable ensemble, created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI) in 2018, annually brings together 22 of the most outstanding teen jazz musicians from across the United States to train, perform, and tour with some of the world’s greatest artists while also serving as music ambassadors, sharing America’s greatest artform with audiences around the globe. This year, vocalist Alicia Olatuja— who has been praised by The New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone,” joins NYO Jazz for their annual Carnegie Hall concert and on tour.

Following a concert by NYO Jazz at Carnegie Hall in New York on 20 July, the ensemble will depart for their South African tour. Having performed at some of the most prestigious concert halls and music festivals across Europe, Asia, and the United States, the South African tour marks the first time that one of Carnegie Hall’s three acclaimed national youth ensembles will perform on the African continent. The highly anticipated visit to local shores includes debut performances in Johannesburg (The Market Theatre on 26, 27 and 28 July)Durban (The Playhouse on 1 August); and Cape Town (Artscape on 2 & 3 August).

The South African guest artists just announced to join NYO Jazz on stage represent some of the country’s finest talent: saxophonist Linda Sikhakhane and bassist Romy Brauteseth in Johannesburg; pianist Afrika Mkhize, as well as the Shine Jazz Ensemble, directed by Dr. Natalie Rungan, showcasing musicians from the top 10 school music ensembles from the KwaZulu-Natal province, as the opening act in Durban; and trumpeter Muneeb Hermans in Cape Town.

For NYO Jazz’s 2024 concerts, Carnegie Hall has commissioned a new work, titled ISIGQI SUITE, by South African composer Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane which he noted “showcases the essence of South African jazz and the profound emotional connection to our collective musical heritage.” The ensemble’s diverse program will also include big band classics by Duke Ellington, Thelonious Monk, and Mary Lou Williams; a new big band arrangement from Terri Lyne Carrington’s project “New Standards: 101 Lead Sheets by Women Composers”, Lakecia Benjamin’s “Trane,” arranged by Jhoely Garay; and other contemporary pieces, showcasing jazz as a living and limitless art form.

NYO Jazz’s 2024 tour offers America’s finest young musicians the opportunity to experience the richness of South Africa’s culture and history while sharing their remarkable artistry with audiences throughout the country. Complementing their performances, the players’ schedule will also include exciting opportunities for cultural exchange and peer-to-peer activities with local young people, an element that has become a hallmark of international tours by all three of Carnegie Hall’s national youth ensembles. Click here to watch a video on the impact of cultural exchange within Carnegie Hall’s national youth ensembles.

​​“The South African Consulate General in New York is grateful to Carnegie Hall for putting together this year’s NYO Jazz trip to South Africa, which will allow the selected young musicians from the US to go and experience the vibrant South African cultural landscape, while also immersing in the creative tapestry that South Africans have to offer to the world,” said Mzwanele Langa, the Consul-in-Charge at the South African Consulate General in New York.

NYO Jazz’s exchange activities in South Africa will include a tour of the Apartheid Museum, followed by a welcome reception with the South African Association for Jazz Education (Wednesday, 24 July); a tour of Soweto and a visit to the Morris Isaacson Centre for Music (Thursday, 25 July); workshops with students and educators at the SAJE Annual Conference at the University of the Witwatersrand (Friday, 26 July and Saturday, 27 July); attending a concert at the Centre for Jazz and Popular Music at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Wednesday, 31 July); and a workshop with local students at Durban High School (Thursday, 1 August).

“We are excited for NYO Jazz to make its South Africa debut this July, the first visit to Africa by any of our national youth ensembles,” said Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall. “Given South Africa’s extraordinarily rich music traditions, including a deep passion for jazz, we know this tour will be a life changing cultural experience for the band members as they engage in peer-to-peer exchange activities with local musicians and are joined on stage by some of the country’s leading artists. We look forward to showcasing the incredible depth of talent among the players in NYO Jazz and the high level of musicianship found across the United States as we connect with music lovers of all ages.”

NYO Jazz’s 2024 South Africa Tour is produced by Arte Viva Management.

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