• Wednesday, Jan 29, 2014

    Carnegie Hall Presents UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa

    A Citywide Festival Exploring South African Arts & Culture
    October 10 to November 5, 2014
    Dozens of Events at Carnegie Hall and Partner Venus Across New York City
    Explore South Africa's Dynamic and Diverse Culture
    Including Music, Film, Visual Arts, and More
    Featured Artists Include Trumpeter, Vocalist, and Composer Hugh Masekela;
    Vocalist Vusi Mahlasela; Jazz Pianist Abdullah Ibrahim;
    Vocalist Angélique Kidjo; Vocal Ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo;
    Visual Artist William Kentridge; and Many Others
    (For Immediate Release: January 29, 2014, NEW YORK )—Carnegie Hall today announced UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa, a three-week festival from October 10 to November 5, 2014, featuring an exciting array of events to be presented at Carnegie Hall and partner venues throughout New York City, inviting audiences to explore the incredibly dynamic and diverse culture of South Africa.

    With its UBUNTU festival, Carnegie Hall salutes South Africa, a country with a 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 the country’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 through the arts.”

    Dedicated to Mr. Mandela’s legacy, the UBUNTU festival features Carnegie Hall performances by artists representing different musical traditions, including performances 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 which may be less well-known: the powerful spirituality and ecstasy of the maskandi music of the Zulu people, music from the Cape region including a Cape Malay choir with 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 performances and 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 significant cultural issues.

    Carnegie Hall programming will include performances by legendary South African artists, beginning with a concert by two musical icons—trumpeter, vocalist, and composer Hugh Masekela and vocalist Vusi Mahlasela—joined by special guest artists for Twenty Years of Freedom, a program celebrating the anniversary of 20 years of democracy in South Africa (October 10). Additional festival highlights include world renowned vocal ensemble Ladysmith Black Mambazo in Voices of South Africa, exploring the central role the voice plays in South African music (October 18); Grammy Award-winning vocalist Angélique Kidjo celebrating the South African cultural icon Miriam Makeba in Mama Africa (November 5); acclaimed visual artist and filmmaker William Kentridge hosting an evening of his short films with live musical accompaniment (October 27); and revered pianist and composer Abdullah Ibrahim, a great champion of Cape jazz, in a solo concert coinciding with his 80th birthday (October 17). Mr. Ibrahim will also lead a master class for young jazz musicians, presented by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (October 18).

    For two consecutive evenings in Zankel Hall, Carnegie Hall features performances incorporating dramatic elements. In a program titled Paper Music: A Ciné Concertby Philip Miller and William Kentridge, Mr. Kentridge presents an evening of his short films with live music by composer Philip Miller (October 27). The following evening, violinist Daniel Hope curates a music theater production entitled A Distant Drum, joining forces with his father, preeminent South African writer Christopher Hope, for the Carnegie Hall commissioned work which follows the life of Nat Nakasa, a brilliant, impassioned spirit of his generation who left behind South Africa’s apartheid of the 1960s for New York. Noted authority on South African music Andrew Tracey is musical supervisor (October 28).

    A double-bill performance showcasing two aspects of contemporary Zulu maskandi music (often dubbed the “Zulu blues”) features two masters from the KwaZulu-Natal province: Madala Kunene leading a quintet that draws on the spiritual aspects of the style, and Phuzekhemisi performing exuberant, high-energy music with singers and dancers in traditional attire (October 11).

    A second double-bill program in Zankel Hall features the Young Stars: Traditional Cape Malay Singers—a 15-voice male choir led by Moeniel Jacobs, performing a style of vocal music from Cape Town that combines Dutch folk songs with beautifully ornamented vocal traditions from as far afield as Malaysia, Arabia, and East Africa. The program also features a performance by guitarist, singer-songwriter, and tireless champion of Cape music traditions David Kramer, joined by folk musicians from the remote regions of the Karoo desert (October 25).

    Kesivan Naidoo, a drummer, composer, and one of the leaders of the next wave of Cape jazz performers will perform original compositions, standards and avant garde selections for his New York debut concert with his band Kesivan and the Lights (October 30). Dizu Plaatjies and his group Ibuyambo will perform the music of the Xhosa people as well as other southern African traditions (November 1).

    In addition, two young, critically-acclaimed South African sopranos will make their New York recital debuts in Weill Recital Hall as part of the festival—Pretty Yende (October 13) and Elza van den Heever (October 24).

    Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute will present UBUNTU festival events at Carnegie Hall and in community venues throughout New York City, inviting families, young musicians, and the community at large to experience a wide range of music from South Africa. In addition to the master class led by Abdullah Ibrahim, events include a lively Carnegie Hall Family Concert featuring Ladysmith Black Mambazo (October 19), and a variety of freeCarnegie Hall Neighborhood Concerts in community venues, including performances by Phuzekhemisi, Abdullah Ibrahim’s Ekaya, and Kesivan and the Lights.

    Festival programming at leading cultural institutions throughout New York City will include music, dance, film, visual arts, panel discussions and more. UBUNTU partners include: 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; and Yossi Milo Gallery.

    A complete schedule for the UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa festival will be announced in summer 2014. Tied to UBUNTU, Carnegie Hall has launched a special web site: 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.

    Information about the UBUNTU festival was unveiled as part of the announcement of Carnegie Hall’s 2014–2015 season.
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