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More Than Music: South Africa and a love of arias

A picture shows South African opera soprano Pretty Yende rehearsing with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra in Cape Town.
A picture shows South African opera soprano Pretty Yende rehearsing with the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra in Cape Town.

We’re off on a musical journey to South Africa. It’s a country that’s still facing huge post-apartheid challenges, but where the human voice is considered by some as its national instrument.

Despite an ailing economy and rising youth unemployment, Cape Town has established itself as a hotbed of new opera and young talented opera singers.

From “More Than Music” host Joseph Horowitz:

How is that happening? In segregated Black townships under apartheid, singing was inherent to church and school. It became commonplace for Black high schoolers to sing selections from oratorios.

Horowitz adds, “With the end of apartheid in the early nineties, the cork was out of the bottle. By 2000, more than 90 percent of the opera students in Cape Town were Black.”

We look at how South Africa has successfully taken acolonial art form and made it itsown — and considerthelessonsfor artists here in the U.S.

More Than Music is scripted by Joe Horowitz. Sound design and production by Peter Bogdanoff.  Joe Horowitz is the author of Joe Horowitz is the author of “The Propaganda of Freedom: JFK, Shostakovich, Stravinsky, and the Cultural Cold War.” More than Music is supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the HumanitiesEarlier ‘More Than Music’ programs can be found hereherehere, and here.

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