In A SPIN !
- 26/6/2006 <--Prev : Next-->
IN A SPIN
CULTURE IN ZIMBABWE IS ALIVE AND WELL!
I'm in a spin! Today is the morning after the last evening - the
final performance - of the 5th Bulawayo Music Festival and I'm on a
high with the strains of Saint-Saens' Carnival of the Animals still
going round in my head. It will take days to recover from the
awesome experience of the past five days. It's a curious feeling of
fulfilment mixed with exhaustion from endeavours and determination
not to miss anything! It was a strenuous, exciting, tremendous,
exacting, stupendous, mind-boggling, not-to-be-missed five days.
How can one possibly put into words the terrific impact that this
wonderful happening has had on our lives? We have gone through so
many emotions and pleasures in a way we could never have envisioned.
An unbelievable, unprecedented and uniquely amazing period of time
that I simply cannot find adjectives to fully describe!
These last few days have been like none other and it's hard to
imagine 'Life after the Festival'. But we couldn't go on like that
anyway. All good things come to an end and we were getting near to
utter exhaustion anyway! How the performers themselves kept going
through five days of a rigorous and totally demanding, non-stop
programme is a mystery. They were just super human. The energy and
enthusiasm, quite apart from the technique and skill of producing
this intense musical immersion, is staggering. And their magnetic
personalities and constant good humour captivated the audience from
beginning to end. It has left us all with such a beautifully warm
feeling of well being and a tremendous appreciation of being in the
right place at the right time!
Michael Bullivant, appointed Director of the Academy of Music in
January 2006, is the indefatigable driving force behind all this. In
fact, the success of this fifth marvellous bi-annual event is due
entirely to the relentless dedication that Michael devotes to music
in Zimbabwe and we owe so much to this wonderful man! And how
blessed we are to have such a feast of culture and enjoyment right
here especially when almost everything around us is stressful and
uncertain. It's been like a shot in the arm to all those music
lovers who attended, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a more
determined and indomitable lot of followers anywhere! Even the
esteemed musicians themselves remarked on the enthusiasm and stamina
of the Bulawayo audience, which incidentally was made up of visitors
from all around Zimbabwe and even some from overseas.
The entire festival was also a delightful social event where people
became reacquainted with old friends and made many new ones.
Incidentally, there were a number of fellow WIT members which, for
me, added to the special camaraderie.
At the same time the visiting performers - Leslie Howard (pianist
from Down Under); Benjamin Nabarro (British violinist) and his wife,
Russian-born Ania Safonova (viola) and Matthew Sharp (British cellist
and baritone) along with our local homegrown talent (of whom there
were so many), mingled freely with the public so that by the end of
the five days we felt we knew them all fairly well - quite unlike
artists in other countries who are generally admired and appreciated
'at a distance'! The warmth and friendliness of people in Bulawayo
does not allow for this and our visitors are instantly and completely
at home - to the benefit of everyone concerned. I mean, where else
would you rub shoulders with famous musicians and actually observe
them pitching in doing 'menial' jobs like moving chairs from one area
of the Academy to another and shifting pianos across stage!
And what talent was on show for us! The choirs, soloists and
conductors, the orchestral players and the world-class visiting
performers who all charmed us with their marvellous music and
endearing personalities. To try to describe the emotions and
passion of their music - not to mention the skill and mental and
physical hard work of them all is beyond my capabilities. I prefer
to leave that to the experts but I think it's safe to say that all of
us in the audience were completely enthralled from start to finish -
from the opening Rachmaninov on Wednesday to the brilliant orchestral
concert on Sunday evening - and the memorable grand finale with
Martin Sharp's fine rendition of Flanders and Swan's Hippopotamus
Song (so appropriate to this country and a favourite, fun feature at
our festivals) with the audience joining in the chorus of 'Mud,
Glorious Mud'. Better than the last night of the Proms! Wow! What a
privilege and what a Festival!
PS: So here's looking towards 2008. In the meantime, however,
serious athletic pre- festival training is recommended!)