Mark your calendars – registration coming soon!
Zimfest is offering online workshops much like the Cultural Presentations at the festival. Taught by experienced Zimfest teachers, they are more akin to lecture-demonstrations rather than hands-on music or singing lessons. Our goal is to continue educating about Zimbabwean music and culture while supporting Zimbabwean artists. We are offering them on a donation basis, with a suggested donation of $10 per hour per participant. Please sign up! Take in an interesting talk and learn more about Zimbabwean culture!
All presentations listed below will take place on Saturdays starting at 1:00 PM Pacific time on Zoom. You will be sent the Zoom link in your registration confirmation email.
Culture as Social Glue in a Challenged Community
June 6, 1:00 – 2:00 pm
The culture of Zimbabwe is a weave of secrets and ethics that create a strong foundation of its existence. From the way the people relate and interact, respect in social relations underlines the culture. As an example, there is power in music, food, love and camaraderie. These components keep the culture alive and the unity is deeply embedded in unconditional love, giving and sharing. Laughter is another additive as an expression of open heart, mind and soul. Many wonder as to why the people of Zimbabwe keep smiling and remain resilient despite overwhelming odds.
How do they keep music going when they do not have any documented or archived music notes? Why is it so easy to pass that entire legacy to upcoming generations when there is no recorded history, let alone village experts to impart knowledge? What makes the Zimbabwean culture unique? What are the themes behind such powerful music and drum beats? What drives the people to dance so well yet they do not receive any dance classes from the experienced elderly folks? How do the people of Zimbabwe survive the overwhelming challenges of western culture and its music that’s more tempting to follow given the ease of reference to archives and the convenience of learning through documents and literature?
What’s the future like for the culture of Zimbabwe in the face of social and political dynamics underlined by overweening technology and other alternatives of entertainment from the global stage? There is more to this culture. Music is a global language and yet culture drives it to other ends of the world. Let’s visit Zimbabwe in one hour and explore the aspects that make the culture and the music unique and interesting.
Mbira in Zimbabwean Popular Music: An Historical Perspective
June 13, 1:00 – 2:15 pm
Most fans of Zimbabwean music know of the role of Thomas Mapfumo and the Blacks Unlimited in mbira-guitar styles (chimurenga), but are unaware of a century’s worth of mbira influences on the development of popular music in Zimbabwe. In this multi-media presentation we will look at and listen to the incorporation of mbira music and/or the actual instruments in popular musics from colonial Southern Rhodesia to present-day Zimbabwe. Expect lots of recorded examples, historical images and interesting anecdotes!
World Music Ensemble: Directing a College Marimba Band – A Williams College Experience
June 20, 1:00 – 2:00 pm
Directing any musical group requires knowledge and skill. As an international musician directing a college marimba band that is predominantly Caucasian and related ethnicities, this has challenged not only my own playing style but also the totality of African music. In this research presentation I explore the concept of world music ensemble and what it entails in reality and according to my experiences.
Zambezi Marimba Band is one of the big music department ensembles at Williams college. Its concerts are always packed and people dance their feet off. The process of sustaining this group is challenging in different forms. Firstly, it is an audition ensemble, meaning I am picking top talent, with participants coming in with different backgrounds. While my knowledge is rooted in Zimbabwean music, knowledge of popular music has come in handy. This being a college band, I have realized early on in my band directorship that only Zimbabwean content does not cut it. If we performed for a Zimfest style audience then it will be “Chemutengure” until the cows come home, easy.
My choice is wide and has captured chimurenga, salsa, disco, movie sound tracks etc. In developing a repertoire, I have challenged band members to choose songs and arrange them for the band. This openness has seen added excitement in the band, including musical development of everybody involved. The performance of the music is special in that most band members do not like singing, especially in public. I have developed a habit that if you pick and arrange a song that has vocals you sing it. Zambezi marimba band is attractive to the college’s top talent because of its wild and fun concerts. Jazz musicians always jump on the opportunity to play with us because some of the rhythms we play are unusual to them and they want to learn them.