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Sweden's Maher Zain in concert in SA

by Cecilia Julin, Ambassador of Sweden in South Africa


23 October 2018

Sweden and South Africa have a long history of meeting through music. Individual artists have made their mark in our common history.

Photo: Maher Zain landing in South Africa. He will perform with the full Cape Town Philharmonic Orchestra on 26 and 27 October.

Miriam Makeba put South Africa on the music map for many Swedes already back in 1966 with a legendary performance at Bern’s Salonger in Stockholm. This was during her years of exile. Her enormous influence on the world of music was recognized in 2002 when she received the Swedish Polar Music Prize, one of the world’s biggest musical prizes.

In 1985 the elite of Sweden’s pop and rock scene joined up for a gala concert protesting against apartheid. Significantly, the concert brought together musicians who had previously been on each end of the political spectrum, in support of a democratic South Africa.

More recently we have seen co-operations between for instance Cape Town Opera and Norrlandsoperan, which have resulted in new and acclaimed works like Poet and Prophetess with music by Mats Larsson Gothe (SE) and libretto by Michael Williams (SA) and the launching of international operatic careers on both the South African and Swedish side.

With a renewed focus on cultural diplomacy, through the appointment of a Cultural Attaché to our embassy by the Swedish Government, we look forward to facilitating innovative and mutually beneficial co-operations in music and the arts. We are happy to be able to join up with dynamic South African partners like Inner Circle Entertainment to realize bold ideas such as bringing together the world’s southernmost Philharmonic Orchestra with an artist living not far from the North Pole, and with his roots in Lebanon. Let us see where this meeting takes us!

In short - music has an enormous power to bring people together. It bridges cultural, religious and traditional divides. Maher Zain has proven this in Sweden, Lebanon and many other places of the globe. It’s a privilege to have him in South Africa, an example of a very diverse society.



January/February 2020










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