Egypt: the name itself awakens everybody’s inner archaeologist ready to sail the Nile and visit the pyramids. For the classical musician, the symphonic and operatic cultures of modern Egyptian music create opportunities for performances in some of Cairo’s most prestigious venues and collaborations with Egypt’s top ensembles including the Cairo Symphony Orchestra. Between the sights of some of Antiquity’s most celebrated kingdoms and the sounds of the modern Middle East, Egypt can when the traveling climate is better be ready for a concert tour combined with Jordan or Israel or Turkey.

Classical Movements started traveling to the Middle East in 1994, first with its brochure program under Blue Heart Tours. It has organized several tours to the Middle East over the years including many individual study and cultural groups, the Collegiate Chorale, Yale Symphony Orchestra, Yale Alumni Chorus, George Washington University, Yale Glee Club and the Yale Institute of Music (among others). Classical Movements also has worked closely with Middle Eastern musicians and human rights leaders especially with the Kennedy Center to host Hafez Abu Seada alongside many other notable activists for an important Human Rights Conference.

Sights & Sounds

  • Pyramids of Giza
  • Sphinx
  • Cairo
  • Cruises on the Nile
  • Valley of the Kings and Queens
  • Cairo Opera House
  • Luxor
  • Coptic churches
  • Cairo Symphony Orchestra
  • Rock temples in Abu Simbel
  • Alexandria
  • Beach resorts near Suez
  • Aswan and the Dam
  • Abu Simbel


“The Minnesota Orchestra’s five-city tour to South Africa in August 2018 was one of the most important musical and emotional experiences of my life. To feel, to see and to hear how the audiences celebrated with all of the performers deeply touched my heart. Another highlight of the trip was to see the young musicians of the South African National Youth Orchestra and the Cape Town Youth Philharmonic playing together with the Minnesota Orchestra musicians. I am sure that we all are going to remember the sound of those side-by-side rehearsals forever. I am incredibly grateful to Classical Movements for such a huge job to make this tour happen. All of the preparation–including the commissioning of a new work–to perform in sold-out concerts is indescribable. What an incredibly memorable trip…thank you, thank you, thank you!” 

-Osmo Vänskä | Music Director, Minnesota Orchestra

“What a trip: music, social work, scenery, pioneering performances in Swaziland, food, drink, and history! Johan, our guide, was terrific.”

Dr. Thomas Duffy | Professor of Music & Director of Bands, Yale University

“Thank you for your tireless energy and enthusiasm over the past few weeks. You have made our festival experience truly amazing and we have some wonderful memories. We can now say we ‘have been everywhere!’ I look forward to seeing you at the future Classical Movements festivals.”

-Rachel Walker | Choir Member, Daley Road Singers, 2012

“This tour was such a success that I wish to make this trip to South Africa a regular rotation for future choral tours. We feel confident that we can continue to learn and enrich our experience in this beautiful country in the capable hands of Classical Movements.”

Gisele T. Becker | Director of Choral Activities, George Washington University Singers, 2009

“You did such a spectacular job of following the ever-moving target in the months before the trip, finding us the venues we needed and working with us to make the tour the enormous success that it was. And then once the tour began, there you were, always thinking of how to improve things, quietly taking care of the problems, form lost tuxes to too-many Delft passengers. There are many smiling YAC faces as a result of your hard work and great competence.”

Sherry Agar | President, Yale Alumni Chorus Foundation, 2007

“The Children’s Chorus of Washington has just returned from the 2010 Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival, and choristers, chaperones and staff all agreed that this was the most enriching and life-changing tour we have taken. The shared concerts with the other international choruses and the South African choirs were musically exciting. We at CCW are grateful to Classical Movements for having the vision to plan and carry out all the details that made this such a memorable tour.”

Joan Gregoryk | Music DirectorChildren’s Chorus of Washington, 2010

“I am amazed at how many sights we were able to see, places we were able to visit, and great meals we were able to share, quite apart from the gathering of the choirs and their musical experiences together. Tour guides were wonderful. You all do an excellent job. Thank you.”

Heather Keith | Staff, New Zealand Secondary Students Choir, 2008

“You just don’t know how exciting it was working with the kids of the two choirs from the USA namely the St. Mark’s Choir from Texas and the Miami Children’s Choir. It was one of the most enjoyable sessions we have ever had. Classical Movements is making leaps and bounds in promoting not only music but cultural diversity, sharing, and appreciation of humanity. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.”

George Mxadana | Director, Imilonji kaNthu Choral Society, 2011

“I have toured many countries, but never have experienced such a professional relationship with a tour organization.  Memories of a perfect itinerary, round-the-clock assistance, unforgettable memories of cordial encounters, impressive landscapes, and great concerts remain with us.”

Christoph Bachmann, Founder & Director of Choirs, Jugendchor Konservatorium Winterthur, 2011

“South Africa is an extraordinary destination for choral music, and the team at Classical Movements helped us create an unforgettable trip. The musical collaborations and the extra musical experiences were superb. The great beauty of the country, the wild life, the high standards of hotels, meals and venues and the warmth of the people were better than we could have wished for.”

Jeffrey Douma | Music Director, Yale Alumni Chorus, 2007


“Ihlombe! is a life-changing cultural, social, and educational opportunity to travel to another country.”

-Washington Informer, Gale Horton Gay | April 24, 2013

“A grand concert at Pretoria City Hall…exhilarating performances.”

-Pretoria News | July, 2013

“Citing success in its South Africa programs, Blue Heart Tours has expanded into Zimbabwe, Botswana and Namibia with itineraries. According to the tour operator, South Africa is favorable for tourism because it is one of the most diverse and beautiful areas in the world and has tremendous potential for tourism in that it can offer safaris, a varied countryside, and the lure of big, cosmopolitan cities.”

-Jax Fax Travel Magazine | Feb, 1995

“One of the aims of the [Ihlombe!] festival is to see choirs performing out of their usual areas, and that goes beyond merely just hosting international groups. Even local choirs will have the opportunity to branch out into new communities. ‘The music here is very compelling. People around the world should know about it,’ says Neeta Helms.”

-Cape Times, Terri Dunbar-Curran | Aug. 5, 2010

“The lessons learned in South Africa will never be forgotten.”

-Toronto Star | Aug. 1, 2013

“Despite cultural differences, music does play a huge role in bringing people together. This was endorsed during the Ihlombe! South African Music Festival held at the University of Pretoria on Saturday.”

-Pretoria Rekord, Thokozile Mnguni | July 25, 2014

“Ihlombe! showcases not only local talent but unique circumstances too, such as the All Saints Blind Choir from Ga-Rankuwa. They have also partnered with accomplished names in choral music, like George Kamxadana. Then there is the issue of the premiere taking place in Soweto. The township affords the Canadian and American choirs a chance to witness a part of our country that they would otherwise not have seen.”

-The Citizen, Sibusiso Mkwanazi | July, 2010

“The prestigious Ihlombe! South African Choral Festival…”

-Washington Post, Petula Dvorak | July 25, 2013

“In keeping with one of the core beliefs of Classical Movements, and building on donations to the three benefactors of last year, some of the profits from the concerts will be shared between South African groups that work to help under-privileged communities and youth programmes. Classical Movements is also empowering local choirs by directly sharing the profits from ticket sales.”

-Johannesburg Star | July, 2010

“In the course of their tours, so many American groups have started learning Maori, Chinese, South African and Brazilian songs. In the process of taking American groups around the world, we have had so many exchanges and collaborations, and we’ve had a great number of groups that wanted to come to the States,’ Helms says.”

-Washington Post, Mark Jenkins | June 22, 2011