Zimfest News Blog

Nematambudziko: Mbira Queen Stella Chiweshe Passes

Mbuya Stella Chiweshe, renowned Zimbabwean musician and pioneering female gwenyambira, passed away at her home in Kuwadzana on 20 January. Born Stella Rambisai Nekati Chiweshe on July 8, 1946 in Mujumi Village, Mhondoro, Mbuya Stella Chiweshe was undoubtedly Zimbabwe’s Queen of Mbira and one of the country’s foremost cultural ambassadors. Married to German national Peter Reich, Mbuya Stella had returned to Zimbabwe telling relatives that her days were coming to a close and she needed to settle back home (more info is available here).

North America students of mbira may be familiar with Chiweshe’s many pre-independence mbira singles, the first of which, “Kasahwa,” went gold in its initial 1974 release. For four years following independence, she was the featured mbira player in the Zimbabwe National Dance Company. In 1986 she formed the Earthquake, a mixed band which included three Zimbabwean-style marimbas and hosho played by her daughter Virginia Mukwesha. Mbuya Chiweshe recorded several albums, performed numerous times in Europe and the WOMAD festival and took at least two tours to the US, participating in Zimfest 2007.

I met Mbuya Chiweshe during my first visit to Zimbabwe in 1980-81; she performed on mbira in a 1st Anniversary of Independence show, opening for Dumi Na Maraire Marimba (an ensemble featuring all Zimbabweans plus myself). Following my return to Zimbabwe in 1985 I discovered that Mbuya Stella and Virginia were living a short distance away from my place in the Avenues area of Harare. I became a frequent visitor and thus was around and able to lend a helping hand when she formed the Earthquake – with some of the same marimba players from St. Peter’s Kubatana that I had gotten to know five years previously! It has always seemed like each time I have been in Zimbabwe, Mbuya Stella and her music was just around the corner. I know her spirit will endure, and her music continue to inspire in the many memorable recordings she made.

Steadfast in her musicality and strong spirituality, there was no one like Mbuya Stella. She will be sorely missed. My condolences to her daughter Virginia Mukwesha-Hetze and the entire Chiweshe family. Nematambudziko.

                          Stella Chiweshe and the Earthquake – Harare 1990

 

With love,
Claire Jones, Zimfest Coordinator
Music Dancing Across Borders

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Zimfest 2023: New Dates (August 3-6), Teacher/Performer Applications Open!

Dear Zimfest Community,

We previously announced a July date for Zimfest 2023, at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. However, after more planning and consultation with our host, we have made the decision to change the dates to August 3rd-6th. We apologize to anyone who is negatively impacted by this change, but feel that it is the best decision for the festival, for the reasons listed below.

The primary reason for this change is that significantly more suitable classroom space is available later in the summer, especially for marimba, hosho, and drumming classes which require sound isolation. Furthermore, we will have exclusive use of our preferred dorm/dining center, because most other conferences on campus wrap up before these dates.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that teacher and performer applications are now open! The application deadline is February 28th.

Please visit teacher application information, and performer application information for details.

Thanks,
Alex Weeks
Zimfest Board President

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Call for Artwork Zimfest 2023

Greetings Zimfest Community,

Zimfest 2023 will retain the festival theme “Music Dancing Across Borders,” given our awareness that circumstances for immigrants and visa applicants remain difficult both here in the United States and in Zimbabwe. We are steadfast in the knowledge that music and dance are unifying forces and look forward to creating togetherness at the festival! We are inviting you to submit designs and artwork related to this theme for use on the Zimfest 2023 poster, tee shirts and other promotional material. Your design could reference Zimbabwean performing art in one or more of its many manifestations: marimba, mbira, dance, etc.  Be aware, however, that we loved the simplicity and soaring feel of the heron originally created by Carrie Rodlend for the 2020 live festival (see below).

  • Please submit your designs electronically to claire[at]zimfest[dot]org by January 15, 2023. The organizing committee will make its selections by February 15, 2023. Send your artwork via e-mail as a high-resolution image in digital format (JPG preferred); do not embed the image into a Power Point or PDF. Please include your full name and telephone number with your submission. If your image is chosen as the principal design for this year’s festival, you will receive an honorarium of $100 and a Zimfest 2023 t-shirt. The winning artist will be featured either on the website or in the festival guide.
  • Graphics artist volunteer – must have expertise in working with image files to format them for mailers, posters, etc. It would be great if the creator of the chosen artwork can do it themselves, otherwise we need a separate person. Write to Claire or volunteers[at]zimfest[dot]org if you can help with graphics.
  • Legal Considerations: By submitting your work to the 2023 Organizing Committee, you grant the Zimfest Association an irrevocable, perpetual license to reproduce the submitted work in whole or in part in any medium, electronic, physical or otherwise. You must be willing to modify or allow a graphic artist to alter the winning entry for use on our printed materials. The original work will become the property of Zimfest Association, who will assume all rights to future reproduction of the work for promotional and fundraising purposes.

See you in Corvallis July 21-23!
Zimfest 2023 Organizing Committee

Heron taking wing, by Carrie Rodlend

Migrating South for the Final Time

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Zimfest Online 2022

Zimfest is excited to provide another opportunity for our community to support Zimbabwean artists and view some incredible performances and presentations! Join us on Saturday, December 17th, 2022 at 11am PST (2pm EST, 9pm in Zimbabwe) for a live viewing of a collection of pre-recorded performances and presentations. This will be streamed on YouTube, so there will be a chat feature for live discussion of the content! With registration you will get access to the video on December 17th, which will be available to watch for several months afterwards.

Find more information here and register here. (There’s a discount for Zimfest members! Sign up here.)

The artists that will be featured are:

Ntswai Ntswai Arts – Ntswai Ntswai Arts is a traditional and afro musical band that specializes in Zimbabwean traditional music, playing Mbira, Marimba, Ngoma and Hosho.

Tawanda Mapanda – Tawanda is a Marimba master and coach, Mbira player, percussionist, saxophonist and composer. Tawanda’s performance will be a fusion between marimba, mbira, ngoma, and saxophone to make a unique sound through looping.

Anesu Ndoro – Telling Ngano: Learning By Doing. In this session, we will explore the interesting process by which ngano folktales (and indeed most of Zimbabwe’s arts, visual and performance) are learned through doing. As a demonstration, Anesu will share three folktales, and will ask you, the viewer, to participate as this is the way you learn how to do it!

Tafadzwa Matiure – Musician and traditional music teacher, Taffie will present Gwindingwi rine Shumba soprano Marimba tutorial: a rendition of Thomas Mapfumo’s Gwindingwi rine Shumba traditional song demonstrated on the soprano marimba.

Napoleon Jambwa and Pangea – We are a group of Zimbabwean musicians who are based in Cape Town and met with one goal; to do music across the border. We play Zimbabwean traditional music using Mbira, Marimba, Ngoma, Hosho and traditional dances.

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Call for volunteers for Zimfest 2023

Dear Zimfest community,

Now that the ZA Board has identified a host institution (Oregon State University in Corvallis) for an in-person Zimfest from July 21-23, 2023, it’s past time to get to work on it!

What you can do to help

Online applications are scheduled to open in early January. We are actively recruiting volunteers and team members to work on the Zimfest Organizing Committee (OC). Many of the current OC members are willing to continue on and may be able to mentor inexperienced or young volunteers who want to learn on the job as interns.

Volunteer for the OC – members take responsibility for major areas of the festival, meet regularly via Zoom, and share files on Zimfest’s Google Drive. Thus, OC members must be technologically capable of working remotely and using Google Drive. (But don’t worry, there are many non-OC tasks that can be done without needing to meet regularly or use Google Drive!). We need people to work on the following:

  • Concert Production – line up sound person and equipment, handle logistics of concert production on outdoor and indoor stages. The main concert hall at OSU will not be available to us in the summer of 2023, and we will be using a ballroom in the Student Union with little space backstage for storage and/or sound desk.
  • Volunteer Co-Coordinator– this could be an intern position
  • Marketplace Coordination-this job could be split into two: one person to deal with applications and another to coordinate booths onsite
  • Site Coordinator and Local Arrangements- (preferably local Oregonians): work with Festival Coordinator to interface with host institution; research third party vendors to procure any needs that OSU cannot provide

Other jobs take up varying lengths of time leading up to and at the festival, but do not require you to meet regularly with the OC:

  • Graphics person to work with image files for publicity, etc.
  • T-shirt and merchandise production
  • Publicity and Marketing
  • Festival Guide layout (required if we are to produce a printed guide this year)
  • Assisting Zim Guest Coordination – arranging shuttles and airport pickups/drop-offs, etc.

Call for Festival Artwork coming soon!

Thanks in advance for your help and support,
Claire Jones
Zimfest Coordinator

MUSIC DANCING ACROSS BORDERS

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Membership Drive and Zimfest 2023

Dearest Zimfest Association Members and friends,

Somehow, 2022 is already trying to sneak out the door, but before 2023 is upon us, I wanted to take a few minutes to let you all know about some exciting things happening in our community.

First and foremost, we are thrilled to announce that Zimfest 2023 is officially a go! The experiment that was Zimfest 2022 taught us many things, but mostly that we really missed seeing our friends and playing wonderful music. After over a decade, we will be returning to Oregon State University in Corvallis on July 21-23 and we hope to see as many of you as possible!

Secondly, you may recall some of the amazing pre-recorded performances both from our online festival in 2021, and between live acts at the Lincoln Theatre in 2022. We received so many amazing videos that we simply couldn’t include all of them. So on December 16th and 17th, we will make them available online for your viewing pleasure. Look for details and registration soon!

And now, I have to take a moment to thank all of our Zimfest Association members! Yes, this was secretly a membership drive all along! There are now almost 100 active members, all of whom allow us to continue working to provide an annual festival while maintaining our connection to the music of Zimbabwe year round! Not a member yet? No problem! Thanks to our streamlined new membership service, it’s easier than ever to join the Zimfest team. Simply go to https://zimfest.org/about/membership. From there, you can follow instructions to become a member, renew a membership, or verify your membership status by plugging in your email address. We now have the option to auto-renew so you can contribute every year without even having to think about it! Please remember that if your membership is more than a year old, you will need to sign up again using our new system. Perks for members include a waiving of the festival registration fee, early access to workshop registration, and even a discount for our upcoming online concert series in December.

“But Daniel, I’m already a member, yet I am compelled, nay, impelled to contribute to Zimfest even more. Whatever can I do??” Great question! There are lots of other ways to contribute. Consider making a tax-deductible donation of whatever amount works for you. Shopping online? When you shop on Amazon, you can support Zimfest by choosing the Zimfest Association as the organization you would like to receive 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases. If you’re selling stuff on eBay, you can choose to donate a percentage of the final sales price to the Zimfest Association. Please visit https://charity.ebay.com/charity-auctions/my-causes/ and search for Zimfest! Finally, if your company supports matching donations, find out from your supervisor or Human Resources department how your company can match your contributions!

Whatever you may be celebrating this year, we hope you have a wonderful holiday season, and we look forward to seeing as many of you as possible at our online event next month, and in Oregon next summer!

Membership questions? Please contact me at:

Warmly,

Daniel Lockley
Zimfest Association board member and Membership Queen on behalf of the The Zimfest Board

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September and October Board Meeting Minutes

Minutes from the September 11th and October 9th meetings of the Zimfest Association board of directors have been posted.

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Important Zimfest Board Recruitment Message

Dear Zimfest Community,

Every month, the Zimfest Association Board meets to make decisions for our organization, and minutes from these meetings are posted to this blog. Although the board’s work is less visible at times than that of the annual organizing committee, it has the important role of creating policy for Zimfest, and guiding the festival into the future.

In the past, we have reached out to recruit new members, but this time I am writing with a more urgent request for new board members. As of right now, the board consists of 8 members, the minimum required per the rules for 501(c)(3) nonprofits incorporated in the state of Washington.

Several members of the board are leaving in the near future, due to family commitments, and we need to recruit more board members to fulfill this requirement. Furthermore, maintaining a range of tenures on the board, from new to old, is important for a healthy and sustainable organization.

As a board member, you would be expected to attend monthly meetings by Zoom at 6:30 pm Pacific time on the second Sunday of every month, and additionally take on tasks as required between board meetings. There is no formal tenure for board members, but in general we request a commitment to serve for 2 years, to be renewed as long as you have the energy to serve. More information can be found here.

If you are interested in serving as a board member, please reach out to , or me directly at . I’m also happy to schedule a phone call to go into more details, and answer any questions that you have.

Thank you,

Alex Weeks
Zimfest Association President

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August Board Meeting Minutes

Minutes from the August 14th meeting of the Zimfest Association board of directors have been posted.

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Donation Thanks and Survey Reminder

Greetings Zimfest community,

I write to gratefully announce the donation of $2225.99 from the HopeFirst Foundation to the Zimfest Association. HopeFirst was originally founded by Paul Mataruse, Kim Foley and Diana Chamrad and helped fund the US tour by Matemai in 2009 in addition to projects in Zimbabwe and The Gambia. HF President Kim Foley, having moved to Ohio, recently made the decision to close the books on the Foundation and donate the remaining proceeds to Zimfest. The funds will be earmarked for the ZA Travel Expense Fellowship program to assist Zimbabweans traveling to Zimfest in the future. Thank you Kim and HopeFirst!

The ZA Board, following the consensus of Village Meeting participants and the organizing committee, is in the process of  seeking a host for Zimfest 2023 that can accommodate a larger audience than this year’s venue (Skagit Fairgrounds and Lincoln Theatre). If you have not yet completed the Post-Festival Survey and have comments for us, please complete the survey before September 1.

Enjoy your summer!
Claire Jones, Festival Coordinator

Heron taking wing, by Carrie Rodlend

  We Took Flight at Zimfest 2022!

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May and June Board Meeting and Village Meeting Minutes

The Zimfest Association board of directors has posted minutes from the May 8th and June 12th board meetings and this year’s Village Meeting.

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Follow Up to Zimfest Site Evaluation Discussion

Hello all,

The Village Meeting this past Sunday featured a lot of lively feedback about Zimfest 2022 and discussion about where the next Zimfest might be. This post serves as a reminder that previous research on potential Zimfest sites is posted on the website on the ZA Documents page,  entitled Venues Researched as Potential Zimfest sites. I have made a few updates to it.

Several people interested in helping out by visiting sites not yet on the list requested we make the “Site Visit Checklist” available, and it is now downloadable as a pdf on the ZA Documents page.

The ZA Board next meets in August, so please write board[at]zimfest[dot]org if you find viable sites for us to consider. 

Thanks for your help and ideas!
Claire Jones, Festival Coordinator

Heron taking wing, by Carrie Rodlend

    We Took Flight at Zimfest 2022!

 

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