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Music South Africa

Carnegie Hall's National Youth Jazz Orchestra announce debut tour to South Africa

This July and August, Carnegie Hall’s critically acclaimed national youth jazz orchestra, NYO Jazz, returns for its seventh season of extraordinary music-making and embarks on its first-ever tour to South Africa. This remarkable ensemble, created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute in 2018, annually brings together some 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 art form with audiences around the globe.
Alicia Olatuja Image by Harrison Weinstein Photography
Alicia Olatuja Image by Harrison Weinstein Photography

NYO Jazz will perform at Carnegie Hall in New York on 20 July, before beginning their historic visit to South Africa. The tour includes debut performances at The Market Theatre, Johannesburg (26, 27 and 28 July); The Playhouse, Durban (1 August); and Artscape, Cape Town (2 and 3 August) as well as music-making with local South African musicians. This tour marks the first time that one of Carnegie Hall’s three acclaimed national youth ensembles will perform on the African continent. It follows successful international tours by NYO Jazz to some of the most prestigious concert halls and music festivals across Europe, Asia, and the United States. NYO Jazz was previously scheduled to tour South Africa in 2020, but the tour was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

NYO Live image by Todd Rosenberg
NYO Live image by Todd Rosenberg

Celebrated artistic director and bandleader/trumpeter Sean Jones leads NYO Jazz, joined by vocalist Alicia Olatuja, who has been praised by The New York Times as “a singer with a strong and luscious tone,” as special guest for their annual Carnegie Hall concert and on tour. As part of its South African tour, the band will also be joined by local guest soloists to be announced in June.

Ahead of their South African tour, the musicians will arrive in New York in early July to begin an intensive 10-day training residency. They will work with world-class jazz masters on the campus of Purchase College, State University of New York, located just north of New York City. Immediately following the residency, NYO Jazz will perform its annual concert at Carnegie Hall on 20 July which will be livestreamed on the Hall’s website and later released on its on-demand streaming platform Carnegie Hall+.

Sean Jones image by Todd Rosenberg
Sean Jones image by Todd Rosenberg

NYO Jazz’s 2024 South African tour offers America’s finest young musicians the opportunity to experience the richness of the country'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.

“We are thrilled to have NYO Jazz make its debut in South Africa this year—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, which include a deep passion for jazz, we know this tour will be a tremendous opportunity for musical and cultural discovery for these brilliant young players. We are proud to showcase their incredible depth of talent and the high level of musicianship found across the United States as we connect the members of NYO Jazz with young musicians and music lovers in South Africa.”

NYO Live image by Todd Rosenberg
NYO Live image by Todd Rosenberg

For NYO Jazz’s 2024 concerts, Carnegie Hall has commissioned a new work by South African composer Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane. 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.

“South Africa is indeed a motherland where jazz resonates deeply within our souls, and we are thrilled to host the gifted NYO Jazz musicians,” said Sibusiso Mash Mashiloane. “My composition for NYO Jazz is an invitation to a musical dialogue celebrating South African ways of musicking. We will weave together the joyful spirit of the legendary Hugh Masekela with many of our other diverse musical influences, creating a powerful and unforgettable sound of our home: South Africa.”

NYO Jazz Tour dates

The Market Theatre, Johannesburg.

Friday, 26 July at 7pm.
Saturday, 27 July at 3pm and 7pm.
Sunday, 28 July at 3pm.

Bookings via Webtickets.
For reduced-price block bookings (of 10 or more) and school groups, contact Anthony Ezeoke, (Audience Development), at az.oc.ertaehttekram@EynohtnA or 083 246 4950 and Mamello Khomongoe az.oc.ertaehttekram@kollemam or 081 572 9612.

The Playhouse, Durban.

Thursday, 1 August at 7pm.

Bookings via Webtickets.
For reduced-price block bookings (of 5 or more) and school groups, contact Gugu at moc.ynapmocesuohyalp@rotanidroocgnitekram

Artscape, Cape Town.

Friday, 2 August at 7pm.
Saturday, 3 August at 3pm and 7pm.

Bookings via Webtickets.
For reduced-price block bookings (of 10 or more) and school groups, contact Artscape Dial-a-Seat on 021 421 7695.

To learn more about NYO Jazz, visit

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