Annual Bulawayo Music Festival

Bulawayo is a city in depression, businesses closing, social services in collapse, failed DiMaf funding…all doom, gloom and despair. BUT, one great moment on the city’s calendar, one which lifts everyone’s spirits is the annual Bulawayo Music Festival.

The buzz around the festival starts months in advance, and this year was no exception given the fantastic line up of local, regional and international artists for its eighth festival. (Click on the image below to view the full programme).

Besides performing in the festival, the musicians visit and perform at Bulawayo schools to educate and entertain culturally starved students and every year the organisers put together events to bring school children into the festival. This year Richard Sisson composed and arranged an extravaganza to include over 500 children from 10 schools to perform at the Bulawayo City Hall.

The children started rehearsing months ago and it was great excitement for all. The piece entitled, “Song of the Carnivores”, is written about the five large carnivores in the country, its aim to educate audiences about these great creatures. In the programme Netty Purchase and Michael Bullivant explain the wonderful potential presented by the extravaganza with plans to take it to SADC and possibly even to London. Donors, wildlife organisations and the Music Academy had a dream and they made it happen.

Zimbabwe’s wild dog website, perfectly captures the excitement of the event, “At the rehearsal I went to, seeing the song, with it’s beautiful lyrics, sung by hundreds of students actually brought tears to my eyes. The lyrics and composition are spectacular and the whole program has had incredible education benefits to all students involved.”

On Thursday evening, 24 May, the premiere was held, the large city hall packed to capacity for the performance at 5pm and the second performance at 6.30pm equally packed. 500 excited pupils sardined on the stage, all incredibly well behaved and who gave a fabulous performance.

Petroc Trelawny, the world famous compere dynamically pulled the performance together with boundless enthusiasm, stitching the songs together with delightful anecdotes, all done because of his long known support for the festival, giving of his time and energy for free.

Just before the last number in the extravaganza Trelawny was called off the stage, in front of the audience he was escorted into a side room and never seen again. He was arrested for volunteering his services and according to Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Home Affairs he should have had a work permit.Now Petroc is in jail – his crime is a love of music, children and Zimbabwe.

The extravaganza programme captures the spirit of the “Song of the Carnivores” in the line “ With a little bit of effort and understanding we can live together with these majestic species of Zimbabwe.” How sad it is that Zimbabwe’s short sighted and officious civil servants refuse to embrace the little bit of effort and understanding needed to bring together Bulawayo’s majestic children and instead they sully all they come into contact with.

Post published in: Arts

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