Zimbabwe’s HIFA kicks off with Classical Music Weekend

The new-look Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) in Zimbabwe begins its 2016 programme with a Classical Music Weekend between Friday 29 April and Sunday 1 May.

Coda Africa will perform at the upcoming CABS Classical Music Weekend in Harare.
Coda Africa will perform at the upcoming CABS Classical Music Weekend in Harare.

The festival’s traditional six-day programme has been replaced this year by various activities spread throughout the course of the year, dubbed Next Level.

Sponsored by local bank CABS, the upcoming Classical Music Weekend promises to be a celebration of classical music’s universal influence. This unprecedented event is an invitation to luxuriate in many classical concerts and also to hear groups that fuse it with other genres. If you’ve ever felt that classical music is not for you, that it’s boring or too exclusive, these three days of performances and hanging out will surely change your mind.

The beautiful grounds and halls at St George’s College in Harare offer various venues for the weekend’s festivities. Visitors can spend all day reveling in concert programmes and expanding their mind and skills in workshops. There will also be many delicious food and bar outlets, as well as a sizeable craft market offering work by many of Zimbabwe’s most talented artists. A new mural will be painted on site over the three days by the talented local graffiti artist Arthur G. Byers.

Friday 29 April will see performances by the Prince Edward Marimba Band, the Zimspiration Choir, the Heuglin Tenors (presented by Zimbabwean soprano Lorna Kelly) and exciting fusion band Coda Africa, who feature an electric string duo of violin and cello, a rock saxophone, a powerful vocalist and Zimbabwean house DJ. Their performances embrace genres from classically-inspired ballads to electro-swing, dubstep, reggae and hip-hop. Friday's performances will be interspersed with workshops with the Baroque 2000 string orchestra (founded by members of KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic in South Africa), mezzo-soprano Bongiwe Makani and American Gerald Steichin.

Saturday 30 April will see performances by the Prince Edward Jazz Band, acclaimed Zimbabwean pianist Jeanette Micklem and other members of the Harare Philharmonic Orchestra (conducted by Roz Whaley), as well as a special Opera Gala featuring Bongiwe Nakani, Marco Titus, Martin Mkhize and Nozuko Teto, accompanied by Baroque 2000 and Zimspiration - not to mention workshops with the HIFA management team and local DJ Jason Le Roux.

The weekend ends on Sunday with a special Mass in the St George’s Chapel with the Zimspiration choir, directed by Kundisai Mtero, an uplifting way to start the day’s events, which will also see performances by Turkish-Zimbabwean pianist Eren Levendoglu, Spanish guitarist Rafael Serrallet and Urban Strings from South Africa, fronted by vocalist and violinist Larah Eksteen, as well as another workshop and performance from Baroque 2000.

Each day ends with an electronic music event, infused with classical music textures, hosted by the Hidden Culture DJs Ryan Synth, Bhana and Jason Le Roux.

Tickets are on sale from Avondale Shopping Centre from 19 April and at St George’s College from 27 April. Prices vary depending on the event, from free outdoor concerts to $15 for some of the headline acts. Workshop tickets can only be bought at the door of each workshop. Day passes allow you to attend everything happening on the day without needing individual tickets and cost $35 for Friday and Saturday and $40 for Sunday. For a truly immersive musical experience, classical lovers can buy a three-day pass for $100.

For the full programme of events, download the attached pdf. For more details visit the HIFA Facebook page.

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