Culture In Zimbabwe Is Alive And Well!

By Dorothy Bowman

BULAWAYO - I’m in a spin! Today is the morning after the last evening – the final performance – of the 5th Bulawayo Music Festival and I’m on a high with the strains of Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals still going round in my head.


It will take days to recover from the awesome experience of the past five days. It’s a curious feeling of fulfillment and exhaustion – from determination not to miss anything! It was a strenuous, exciting, tremendous, exacting, stupendous, mind-boggling, not-to-be-missed five days.

How can one possibly put into words the terrific impact that this wonderful happening has had on our lives? We have gone through so many emotions and pleasures. These last few days have been like none other and it’s hard to imagine “Life after the Festival”. But all good things come to an end and we were getting near to utter exhaustion anyway!
How the performers themselves kept going through five days of a rigorous and demanding programme is a mystery. The energy and enthusiasm, quite apart from the technique and skill of producing this intense musical immersion, is staggering. And their magnetic personalities and constant good humour captivated the audience from beginning to end. It has left us all with a tremendous appreciation of being in the right place at the right time!

Michael Bullivant, appointed Director of the Academy of Music in January 2006, is the indefatigable driving force behind all this. And how blessed we are to have such a feast of culture and enjoyment right here, especially when almost everything around us is stressful and uncertain. It’s been like a shot in the arm to all those music lovers who attended, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more determined and indomitable lot of followers anywhere!
The visiting performers – Leslie Howard (pianist from Down Under); Benjamin Nabarro (British violinist) and his wife, Russian-born Ania Safonova (viola) and Matthew Sharp (British cellist and baritone) along with our local homegrown talent (of whom there were so many), mingled freely with the public so that by the end of the five days we felt we knew them all fairly well – quite unlike artists in other countries who are generally admired and appreciated “at a distance”!

The warmth and friendliness of people in Bulawayo makes our visitors instantly and completely at home – to the benefit of everyone concerned. I mean, where else would you rub shoulders with famous musicians and actually observe them pitching in doing “menial” jobs like moving chairs from one area of the Academy to another and shifting pianos across stage.

And what talent was on show for us. I prefer to leave the analysis to the experts but I think it’s safe to say that all of us in the audience were completely enthralled from start to finish – from the opening Rachmaninov to the brilliant orchestral concert on Sunday – and the memorable grand finale with Martin Sharp’s fine rendition of Flanders and Swan’s Hippopotamus Song with the audience joining in the chorus of “Mud, Glorious Mud”. Better than the last night of the Proms! What a privilege and what a Festival!

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Post published in: Arts

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