HARARE – American violinist Nokuthula Ngwenyama, German cello player Theo Bross and the Odeion String Quartet from South Africa are among a galaxy of stars set to perform at the Bulawayo Music Festival from June 15 to 19.
The largely classical event, which is being sponsored by NMB Bank, also features United Kingdom pianists Coady Green, Leslie Howard and Christopher Smith as well as several local artistes who include Bulawayo’s Impumelelo Shining Stars and Heuglin Tenors from Harare.
To cater for diverse tastes, the organisers have roped in various local dance and vocal groups, including school groups.
In keeping with the main purpose of the festival to facilitate the performance of great music, Bulawayo Music Festival will feature about 10 classical music concerts. It will also showcase a series of DVDs commemorating the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.
The festival programme will include violin, cello and piano recitals. Music fans will also get a rare chance to enjoy performances by piano trios and quintets as well as string quartets, quintets and sextets.
In addition to the concerts there will also be workshops and lessons so that students can benefit from working with top-class professional musicians.
The ninth edition of the Bulawayo Music Festival will be a homecoming one for Ngwenyama whose father relocated to the United States of America during Rhodesia’s infamous Unilateral Declaration of Independence.
Ngwenyama, who was born in California of Zimbabwean-Japanese parentage, attracted international attention when she won the Primrose International Viola Competition and the Young Concert Artistes International Auditions at age 17.
Apart from her illustrious performance activities, Ngwenyama is also an acclaimed scholar. She served as visiting professor at the University of Notre Dame in 2007. She then became a visiting professor at Indiana University between 2008 and 2010. The acclaimed violinist has been the director of the Primrose International Viola Competition since 2005 in addition to being the president of the American Viola Society, a post she assumed in 2011.
The talented Ngwenyama’s participation in this year’s edition is a feather in the cap of the Bulawayo Music Festival which was first organised in 1997 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Bulawayo Philharmonic Orchestra, the 20th anniversary of the National Symphony Orchestra and the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the railway in Bulawayo.
Thanks to the success of the 1997 edition, the event is now being held once every two years with the help of sponsorship from NMB Bank.
NMB marketing manager Lindiwe Thebethebe said the bank’s regular sponsorship of the festival was inspired by its desire to promote the arts industry.
“Our hope is that our local musicians’ interaction with and exposure to the music at the festival will encourage them to broaden the scope of their own music and promote an interest in classical music.
“In many countries, the arts contribute to the national economy. We believe that the arts industry could do the same for us here in Zimbabwe,” said Thebethebe.