“I realized that my job is to awaken possibility in others.”

Boston orchestra wows crowds at Regina Mundi despite blackout

Patience Bambalele - Sowetan Live
— June 19, 2023

Conductor quips it’s first time he works in the dark


Not even blackouts could stop the performance of the Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra in Soweto on Saturday.

The 120-member youth orchestra from Boston in USA, which is in the country for a tour, was performing at Regina Mundi Church in Rockville when a power outage struck at 8pm.

Instead of stopping the performance, Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra (BPYO) continued playing in the dark, with soloists Andiswa Makana, Bongiwe Nakani Mcetywa and the 80-strong Gauteng Choristers Choir, doing the same.

The audience that had packed Regina Mundi lit up their cellphones to ensure that there was a bit of light.

After some time, the generator kicked in and a few lights were back on.

Boston Philharmonic Youth Orchestra performing in Soweto

The orchestra opened the performance with Symphony Number Two by Gustav Mahler, which is about resurrection.

Conducted by seasoned conductor Benjamin Zander, the orchestra, which comprises young people, delivered a matured and yet mesmerising performance.

After their first piece, the audience stood and gave them a standing ovation.

Zander, who boasts 50 years of experience as a conductor, said: “It is the first time I have conducted this piece to people who have never heard it before and respond the way you did. It is also the first time in my 50 years that I had to conduct an orchestra in the dark,” he said and the audience laughed.

The orchestra is on a multi-city tour, performing seven collaborative concerts in Pretoria, Soweto, Johannesburg, Cape Town and Makhanda.

BPYO will move to Cape Town on June 19, where it will be teaming up with Settlers High School orchestra, Bellville High School Symphonic Wind Band, DF Malan High School Wind Band, Fairbairn College, Westerford High School Symphony Orchestra, San Souci and Rustenburg Girls High Schools and Rondebosch Boys High School.


Click here to view the BPYO South Africa Tour Collection.

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