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Saturday, September 5, 2015


(Bongani Tembe)

The Board of the Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra (JPO) has announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Boards of the KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra (KZN PHIL) and the JPO.

Bongani Tembe, who is Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the KZN Philharmonic, has been appointed Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the JPO.

In affirming their joint commitment to the development and continuation of the performance of orchestral music in South Africa, the two Boards have pledged to combine strengths to ensure the long-term sustainability of the orchestras in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. This not only intends to maintain the regularity of symphony concerts in both provinces to ensure consistent and excellent performances by the musicians, but also to expand the outreach and educational programmes designed to benefit the greater communities of our country.

With years of experience executing high profile international and South African projects, Tembe has been extremely successful in leading the KZN Philharmonic over the past 21 years. He has created a stable and world-class orchestra that has been lauded for its performance excellence in South Africa and Europe. He has accepted the additional appointment as Artistic Director of the JPO with immediate effect and will become CEO and Artistic Director of both orchestras as from January 1, 2016.

Tembe brings extensive international functional leadership experience as the Commissioner-General of the SA-UK Seasons 2014 and 2015 - a cultural exchange partnership by South Africa’s Department of Arts and Culture and the United Kingdom’s British Council. Previously, he oversaw the highly successful France-South Africa Seasons in 2012 and 2013 as Commissioner-General. 

Hailed as South Africa’s pre-eminent arts manager of classical music, Tembe is a graduate from the prestigious Julliard School in New York and is South Africa’s first black professional opera singer. He has received some widespread accolades by bringing to South Africa leading artists and orchestras, including RenĂ©e Fleming, Vladimir Ashkenazy, Pinchas Zuckerman, Zubin Mehta and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. His strong vision fosters high artistic values and a commitment to engaging with the diverse communities of South Africa.

The Acting Chairman of the JPO Board, Stephen Jurisich, said “The Board is delighted that the JPO will have the benefit of Mr Tembe’s vast experience and visionary leadership, and looks forward to a new era for the orchestra that will not only benefit the JPO musicians who have endured the hardships of the last few years, but also the loyal supporters who have never lost faith in the orchestra and the broader communities who will be engaged in education and development programmes”.

Duncan Gibbon will remain as interim CEO of the JPO until the end of the year to assist with the transition process.