Cellist and student conductor Tsepo Kolitsoe Pooe, born in 1990, hails from Soweto, South Africa. His most recent engagements include a performance at the Gewandhaus with P. A. Hülsenbeck and Michael Schönheit in October 2020. Throughout the past ten years, he has joined the South African non-profit organisation MIAGI ‘Music is a great Investment’ on its mission to utilise music and music education as tools for positive social development and nation-building in the spirit of Nelson Mandela. MIAGI’s inter-cultural work in South Africa and abroad brought him together with MIAGI’s orchestra, to venues and stages such as the European Parliament, the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, the Berliner Philharmonie, the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the Verbier Festival. When he is not playing the cello or conducting on ad hoc bases, Pooe is also helping MIAGI with promotion, documentation and media work.
At the same time, he has done performances with the Swiss orchestra Zürcher Kammerorchester under the direction of internationally-renowned conductor Sir Roger Norrington. Pooe’s engagements over the past two years include being part of The Centre of The Less Good Idea and doing collaborative work with João Renato Orecchia Zúñiga and William Kentridge. In addition, he was a participant in the workshop of William Kentridge’s piece “The Head and the Load” which also included members of the Knights Orchestra. He was also part of The Johannesburg International Mozart Festival and did premiers of works from various South African composers.
A versatile cellist, Pooe is active in contemporary and classical works and has played with various ensembles: The Johannesburg Chamber Strings, Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra, The Gauteng Camerata, and The Mahogany Quartet. He produced concerts and performed with his own Contemporary String Group The Pooe-Tic Strings, which he formed in 2009. He was also Junior conductor at the Orchestra company and studied conducting with Maestro Robert Maxym and Maestro Gerben Grooten in South Africa. He is currently studying with Berlin-based conductor Symeon Ioannidis.
With his vision and will to use music as a tool for reconciliation and peace-building and to create more inclusive societies, he is playing with The String Archestra in Berlin, a string ensemble created to empower musicians of colour in classical music and to recognise composers who have been overlooked in music history because of their ethnicity and gender. Pooe also collaborated on projects with many multidisciplinary artists including The Brother Moves on, Msaki, Manthe Ribane, and the Golden Circle, Tumi Mogorosi, Viwe Mkizwana, Tshepo Tsotetsi, Shannon Sea both in Europe and Africa.
For 20 years, the South African Non-Profit-Organisation MIAGI, Music is a great Investment, established and managed by the South African born singer Robert Brooks and the Finnish born pianist Ingrid Hedlund, has offered a wide range of educational opportunities equipping young South Africans to advance their life prospects. Similarly, the nationally and internationally celebrated MIAGI Orchestra with its numerous creative hubs in form of smaller formations and ensembles, unites young talents through excellence, creative cooperation and innovation across ethnic and social borders, embodying the ideals of Nelson Mandela. The architectural drawings of a second MIAGI founded educational and cultural centre in a historically deprived settlement, ‘MIAGI Cultural Investment Centre Khayelitsha’ have been finalised and MIAGI is currently fundraising for the building work. In 2019, MIAGI established the Non-Profit-Association Music is a great Investment Sweden to support MIAGI in South Africa and assist in promoting the MIAGI brand internationally.