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New South Africa Program is Music to Student's Ears

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May 12, 2009 | by Judy Moore
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Northwestern University's International Program Development Office recently launched a new program in South Africa that allows students from all disciplines to explore the economic, political and social makeup of the country.

As part of the "South Africa: Democracy and Development" program, which started March 29 and concludes June 14, junior Stacey Kurtz, who is majoring in music performance at the Henry and Leigh Bienen School of Music, is spending her spring quarter at Stellenbosch University. Located near Cape Town, Stellenbosch is recognized as one of the four top research universities in South Africa.

Designed and administered by Northwestern's International Program Development (IPD), the new Democracy and Development program examines contemporary South Africa, its possibilities and challenges. Participants learn about economic development policies, human rights, democratization efforts, and contemporary politics. They also gain information on the challenges of development and income redistribution in the face of widespread poverty and high prevalence of HIV/AIDS; the creation of judicial and political institutions in the post apartheid period; and the challenges of reconciliation, education, democracy and human rights.

During the program, participating students also visit historical sites around the Cape and study Xhosa, one of South Africa's official languages.

While the program is not specifically focused on music, the IPD office makes it possible for students in any discipline to participate in the study abroad opportunities. Arrangements were made for Kurtz to perform with the double bass section of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra (CPO) during two April concerts while Victor Yampolsky, professor of music performance at the Bienen School of Music, was the guest conductor.

"I would like to play professionally with the CPO as well as teach at a nearby university for part of my career, so I am eager to learn more about how to accomplish my dream," said Kurtz, who is a native of St. Cloud, Minn.

The Cape Philharmonic performs as a symphony orchestra and helps to develop the talent of young musicians. The ensemble performs not only in the Cape's premier venues, but also visits smaller venues in previously disadvantaged communities.

Yampolsky has been a regular guest conductor since 1984 and also serves as an artistic advisor of the Development and Outreach Program of the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra, which includes the Cape Philharmonic Youth Orchestra and young student musicians and conductors. He also is a member of the jury of the first conducting competition for young South Africans, which will take place in Cape Town in July 2009 and February 2010.

For more information on the new program visit http://www.feinberg.northwestern.edu/IPD/index.html
Topics: University