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The Bulawayo Music Festival

The Bulawayo Music Festival

The Bulawayo Music Festival

The Bulawayo Music Festival, founded in 1997 by energetic classical music aficionado Michael Bullivant, and run by he and his team of enthusiastic volunteers, is an unmissable every two years event.  With a varied programme featuring both serious and light-hearted elements and catering for many tastes, it has strong emphasis on classical music, but there are more contemporary options as well.  Many children participate in some of the major concerts and in the Academy of Music grounds over the five day event.  BBC radio personality Petroc Trelawny will attend for the second time, as compère for some of the shows and also  to cover the Festival for the BBC and interview the stars. 

Pre-eminent world renowned pianist Leslie Howard returns to this Festival for the eithth time and as usual, will hardly be off stage, he is involved in so many concerts!  After his first in 1997, he fell in love with Zimbabwe and has been returning to perform ever since.   Just as hard working will be Australian pianists Coady Green and Leigh Harrold, the former returning to the Festival for the third time and who with Harrold performed in several shows at HIFA last year.  Following hot on the heels of HIFA, this well-organised Festival will ensure that Festival Fever continues to afflict arts and music lovers for at least a couple more weeks! 

This delightfully intimate Festival at which audience and stars mingled in relaxed fashion, features world renowned classical musicians and composers from the UK, Australia and South Africa, as well as some enjoyable contemporary musical offerings in the grounds of the Music Academy.  Included in the line-up is outstanding soprano Alenka Ponjavic who has regularly been a star feature of the Opera Gala at HIFA. 

The Festival includes a performance of Carl Orff's magnificent work, ‘Carmina Burana’, by a massed choir comprising adults from Bulawayo and Harare with around 80 school children from both cities, accompanied by visiting musicians, with soloists Alenka Ponjavic and Njabulo Madlala,conducted by well known British conductor Mary King.
 
Another major highlight is the performance of ‘The Song of the Carnivores’, an environmentally focused musical work conceived at the 2010 Festival by Bulawayo based environmentalist, Netty Purchase.  Richard Sisson, English composer and conductor, an amusing, very talented popular feature of 2010's Bulawayo Music Festival for which he specially composed a wonderful new work, ‘The Makamba Tree’ to great acclaim, was very inspired by Netty’s idea.  He agreed during the 2010 Festival with alacrity to compose this ‘Musical Extravaganza’ of a work, to celebrate and publicise Zimbabwe’s five carnivores, the lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena and wild dog, all under constant threat from man.  The British Council, equally inspired, agreed to fund the project.  This amazing new work will be performed twice by 500 school children in the City Hall. 

Other stars of the Festival include Juliette Bausor (flute), Morgan Szymanski (guitar), who returns after endearing himself to all, and composing a new work, ‘Zambezi Sarabande’, which was then performed by hundreds of school children at the 2008 Festival, the astonishingly talented South African born baritone Njabulo Madlala,  the Junior Odeion String Quartet from South Africa, Christopher Smith (piano), Tish Morgan (mezzo-soprano), singing with her niece, Sarah-Kate Waugh (soprano), the Amici String Quartet  and Sharon de Kock (violin).  The Festival includes an excellent outreach programme, bringing classical and other music to thousands of school children.

Read more articles from this issue:
Zambezi Traveller (Issue 08, March 2012)

Read more about the region in our destination guide:
Bulawayo