Bulawayo Music Festival to run from May 23 to May 27

The Eighth Bulawayo Music Festival, set to run from May 23 to May 27, has been billed as perhaps the most ambitious yet.

Alenka Ponjavic
Alenka Ponjavic

More musicians will be coming to the festival than ever before from beyond Zimbabwe's borders – 21 in all – and more than 800 schoolchildren will also be involved in various performances, in addition to other local musicians.

The event will be taking place at the Zimbabwe Academy of Music, adjacent to the ZITF grounds, and is being organised by Michael Bullivant, who has staged these biannual classical festivals since the first back in the 1990s.

Visiting artists this year include newcomers as well as familiar faces, including the Amici String Quartet, Juliette Bausor (flute), Sharon de Kock (violin), Coady Green (piano), Leigh Harrold (piano), Leslie Howard (piano), the Junior Odeion String Quartet, Mary King (mezzo-soprano/conductor), Njabulo Madlala (baritone), Piet Moolman (conductor), Alenka Ponjavic (soprano), Richard Sisson (piano, composer, conductor), Christopher Smith (piano), Morgan Szymanski (guitar) and Petroc Trelawny (narrator, interviewer).

Said Mr Bullivant: “There will be a great wealth of music on offer. As well as over a dozen classical concerts, there will be plenty of other music to enjoy including pop and gospel concerts (in which some of the visitors will take part), jazz from Prince Edward School in Harare, the Hellenic School Orchestra from Harare and a special Africa Day Celebration.

Three of the major highlights will be:

• Carl Orff's thrilling CarminaBurana with international soloists, a choir of 150 pluschildren's chorus, two pianos and eight percussionists.

• the first performance of a major commission from Richard Sisson, The Song of the Carnivores, involving 500 children from 10schools in both eastern and western suburbs as well as the Hellenic School orchestra, massed flutes, other instrumentalists and many of the professional musicians.

• the final orchestral concert which will include concertos by C.P.E.Bach (flute), Haydn (cello) and Mozart (piano) plus The Carnival of the Animals.

There will also be a concert devoted to music by Schubert including the Death and the Maiden Quartet and works for piano, flute and violin, and another devoted to Mendelssohn ending with his miraculous Octet. An opening gala will include including popular operatic excerpts, a celebration of Debussy, piano quintets by Dohnanyi, Fibich, Schumann and Shostakovich, Liszt's Sonata played and introduced by Leslie Howard, a concert of Australian music and the usual mixture of the familiar (Beethoven's Moonlight and PathétiqueSonatas, Dvorak's Slavonic Dances and American Quartet) and less familiar (Reger'sVariations on a Theme of Mozart, Etudes by Alkan and Rubinstein) – and much more! One rather different event will be silent films with live accompaniment, including Laurel and Hardy's Big Business with Leslie Howard as pianist.

There is a pre-festival dinner on the Tuesday May 22 at the Bulawayo Club, which will be a substantial finger supper interspersed with music from several of the musicians ending with a sing-along led by Leslie Howard.

The Bulawayo Music Festival has been supported by NMB Bank, Sandvik Mining and Construction, as well as the Australian Embassy, Beit Trust, British Friends of the Zimbabwe Academy of Music, British Council, Alliance Française de Bulawayo and local supporters.

Booking is open at the Academy in Bulawayo, with season tickets costing $75. Further details including the full provisional programme can be sourced by e-mailing [email protected] or calling the Zimbabwe Academy of Music on (09) 60684.

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