Week Three of UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa Features Concerts, Film, and Visual Art
Week three highlights at Carnegie Hall include a pair of special projects in Zankel Hall. On Monday, October 27 at 7:30 p.m., the Johannesburg-born visual artist William Kentridge and his South African compatriot, composer Philip Miller, collaborate on Paper Music: A Ciné Concert by Philip Miller and William Kentridge. Their artistic partnership dates back to Kentridge’s 1994 film Felix in Exile, part of his celebrated Soho Eckstein series for which Miller wrote the score. Paper Music is part of an ongoing exploration of the different relationship between image and sound, featuring a selection of films by Kentridge with music by Miller performed by vocalists Joanna Dudley and Ann Masina, pianist Idith Meshulam, and Miller performing on electronic sampler and foley.
In another special project, violinist Daniel Hope curates an original music and theater production, A Distant Drum, which has its U.S. premiere on Tuesday, October 28 at 7:30 p.m. Hope joins forces with his father, writer Christopher Hope, founder of South Africa’s Franschhoek Literary Festival, for the work, commissioned by Carnegie Hall, which is a portrait of Nat Nakasa, a brilliant writer and irreverent spirit of his generation, who left behind South Africa’s Apartheid of the 1960s for the United States. The amazing array of artists performing in the work include music director, composer, and keyboardist Ralf Schmid; cellist Vincent Segal; percussionist Jason Marsalis; bassist Michael Olatuja; and actors Nat Ramabulana and Christiaan Schoombie; with music supervisor Andrew Tracey, producer and lighting designer Mannie Manim, digital choir recordings by Themba Mkhize, and director Jerry Mofokeng.
Also during week three of the festival, South African soprano Elza van den Heever makes her New York recital debut with pianist Vlad Iftinca on Friday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. in Weill Recital Hall. Ms. van den Heever earned rave reviews for her 2013 Metropolitan Opera debut as Elizabeth I in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda. For the UBUNTU festival, she performs Schumann’s Frauenliebe und -leben, Op. 42, and songs by Handel, Fauré, Brahms, Marais, Lemmer, and John K. Pescod.
The following evening, Saturday, October 25 at 9:00 p.m. in Zankel Hall, the fascinating folk music from the Cape region of South Africa is explored by two groups: composer, guitarist, singer-songwriter, and tireless champion of Cape musical traditions David Kramer performs with a lineup of top musicians from Cape Town and the Karoo desert. And New York audiences also have a rare opportunity to hear a Cape Malay choir—the Young Stars: Traditional Cape Malay Singers—a 15-voice male choir led by Moeniel Jacobs. They perform music from Cape Town that combines Dutch folk songs and Afrikaans comic songs with colorful inflections and ornaments from vocal traditions as far afield as Malaysia, Arabia, and East Africa.
To conclude week three of the UBUNTU festival, jazz group Kesivan and the Lights makes its New York debut on Thursday, October 30 at 8:30 p.m. in Zankel Hall. Kesivan Naidoo is one of the exciting leaders of the new generation of Cape jazz performers. A composer, drummer, and bandleader, Naidoo leads a fiery quintet that is equally exciting playing a standard or an original work. The group will also play a free Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert at Flushing Town Hall in Queens on Saturday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. presented by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute. WMI will present UBUNTU events at Carnegie Hall and in community venues throughout the festival, inviting families, young musicians, and the community at large to experience a wide range of music from South Africa.
Throughout the UBUNTU festival, an exhibition in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall lobby, entitled Johannesburg in Print, celebrates the expression of South Africa’s visual arts community through the medium of printmaking. The displayed works were created in the city of Johannesburg and highlight the vibrant David Krut Print Workshop, which has fostered a creative community of emerging and established artists in South Africa for more than a decade.
UBUNTU extends throughout New York City, with festival programming at leading partner cultural institutions featuring music, dance, film, visual arts, panel discussions, and more.
Week three partner events include a screening of the film 28 Up South Africa on Saturday, October 25 at 1:00 p.m. at the American Museum of Natural History as part of the Margaret Mead Film Festival. Patterned on the acclaimed British documentary project, this South African documentary series follows a group of people filmed first at age seven and then subsequently every seven years. The work offers a diversity of personal stories which collectively create a unique portrait of the social, cultural, and political history of a country. This fourth installment of the South African series, directed by Angus Gibson, the Oscar-nominated director of Mandela and Yizo Yizo, captures a group of 28-year-olds, first filmed as children living under Apartheid, whose lives reflect the dizzying and complex layers of change their nation has undergone in the two decades since the repressive regime’s fall.
Keyes Art Projects highlights contemporary trends in visual arts in South Africa, coordinating a series of exhibitions at leading galleries in New York City. Openings during the third week of the UBUNTU festival include Marian Goodman Gallery, presenting the work of William Kentridge from October 27 to November 27, and David Krut Projects, presenting the work of Stephen Hobbs, William Kentridge, Senzo Shabangu, and Diane Victor from October 30 to November 15.
The New York Public Library partners with Urban Stages to bring South African cultural programs to young people. In the UBUNTU festival’s third week, these include a Puppet-Making Workshop for Kids on Saturday, October 25 at 2:00 p.m. at the Bronx Library Center and South African Drumming for Teens on Wednesday, October 29 at 3:30 p.m. at the Great Kills Library in Staten Island. Additional workshops during the festival will be held on October 7 and 14 (puppet-making) and October 10, 16, and 21 (drumming).
UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa
With its UBUNTU festival, Carnegie Hall salutes South Africa, a country with its dizzying patchwork of cultures, eleven official languages, and a cultural life like none other. Roughly translated as “I am because you are,” Ubuntu is a philosophy from Southern Africa that emphasizes the importance of community, a way of thinking that has influenced recent moves toward reconciliation and cultural inclusion in South Africa as fostered by South Africa’s former president, the late Nelson Mandela. The spirit of this philosophy is embodied in the festival’s programming, which features a varied lineup of artists representing the many threads that together make up the country’s musical culture.
“In creating the UBUNTU festival, we were inspired by the cultural life of this incredibly diverse country,” said Clive Gillinson, Carnegie Hall’s Executive and Artistic Director. “It is a nation with a dynamic, often surprising culture like no other—the birthplace of larger-than-life musical presences like Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba, Abdullah Ibrahim, and now, a seemingly endless array of vocal talent from every corner of the country. Our festival also comes twenty years after the first free elections in South Africa, an anniversary made even more resonant by the recent passing of Nelson Mandela. The country’s landscape continues to evolve, and this makes for fascinating explorations throughout the arts.”
Dedicated to Mr. Mandela’s legacy, the UBUNTU festival features Carnegie Hall performances by artists representing different musical traditions, including concerts paying tribute to notable South African icons and milestones. In addition to showcasing world-renowned South African musicians who are beloved the world over, festival programming will also provide a window for audiences into many kinds of South African music that may be less well-known: the powerful spirituality and dynamism of the maskandi music of the Zulu people, music from the Cape region including a Cape Malay choir and folk musicians from remote regions of the Karoo desert, and two thrilling generations of South African jazz artists. In addition, two critically-acclaimed South African classical vocalists will make their New York recital debuts as part of the festival. Looking beyond performances at Carnegie Hall, the UBUNTU festival will extend citywide through events at prestigious partner organizations, with programming showcasing visual art, film, and dance, as well as panel discussions featuring leading social and political voices on the significant cultural issues.
UBUNTU partners include: African Film Festival Inc.; Anna Zorina Gallery; Apollo Theater; David Krut Projects; Flushing Town Hall; Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture; Jazz at Lincoln Center; The Julliard School; Keyes Art Projects; Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History; Marian Goodman Gallery; Mark Borghi Fine Art; The New Victory Theater; New York City Center; The New York Public Library; The Paley Center for Media; Queens College, City University of New York; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Ubuntu Education Fund; Weeksville Heritage Center; and the World Music Institute.
Carnegie Hall has launched a special UBUNTU festival website, carnegiehall.org/SouthAfrica, which will feature information on festival events, interviews with artists, videos introducing the music being performed, and other content designed to illuminate festival offerings. For a video overview of the festival, please click here.
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