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UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa

October 8–November 5, 2014

UBUNTU celebrated the dynamic and impassioned cultural life of a vibrant nation. Roughly translated as, “I am because you are,” ubuntu is a South African philosophy that emphasizes the importance of community and reflects the spirit of reconciliation and inclusion fostered by the nation’s former president, the late Nelson Mandela, to whom the festival was dedicated. The festival spotlighted a varied lineup of artists, and Carnegie Hall partnered with leading New York City cultural organizations to present concerts, film series, art exhibitions, and panel discussions about South Africa.

Two South African musical icons, trumpeter Hugh Masekela and singer Vusi Mahlasela, opened the festival by diving into the nation’s history with songs celebrating 20 years of democracy and the end of apartheid. Guest artist Dave Matthews joined the duo, and they set a joyous tone echoed by artists and audiences throughout the festival. Other festival highlights included a double-bill that featured guitarist, ethnomusicologist, and singer-songwriter David Kramer with his band and the 15-voice male choir Young Cape Malay Stars, showcasing the diversity of music from the Cape region. The Cape jazz tradition was celebrated with revered pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim performing a solo concert that coincided with his 80th birthday and, later in the month, the New York debut of Kesivan and the Lights, a band led by drummer Kesivan Naidoo. In their New York recital debuts, sopranos Pretty Yende and Elza van den Heever delighted with opera and song classics. There was also a fascinating fusion of film and music with Paper Music, a collaboration by Johannesburg-born visual artist William Kentridge and his South African compatriot musician Philip Miller. Throughout the festival, UBUNTU artists also participated in Weill Music Institute events, including concerts throughout New York City and a master class in the Resnick Education Wing led by Ibrahim. The festival concluded with singer Angélique Kidjo in a rousing tribute to singer and anti-apartheid activist Miriam Makeba that inspired the audience—which included Archbishop Desmond Tutu—to stand, sing, and dance along.

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Festival Partners

African Film Festival Inc.
Anna Zorina Gallery
Apollo Theater
Axis Gallery; Flushing Town Hall
Jazz at Lincoln Center
The Juilliard School
Keyes Art Projects
(Le) Poisson Rouge

Live from the New York Public Library
New Heritage Theatre Group
The New York Public Library
Queens College, City University of New York
Ubuntu Education Fund
World Music Institute
Yossi Milo Gallery

Lead funding for UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, The Howard Gilman Foundation, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the Mai Family Foundation, South African Tourism, and South African Airways.

UBUNTU is held in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture of the Republic of South Africa and the South African Consulate General in New York in celebration of 20 years of freedom and democracy.

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