Kunzwana # 1

"KUNZWANA comes from the Shona word nzw(an)a which means
‘listening, hearing and understanding one another’." - Keith Goddard


Kunzwana # 1 is both a musical journey and cross-cultural collaboration featuring some outstanding and innovative Austrian musicians with their Zimbabwean counterparts.

As a kind of prelude the Austrian artists will visit the group Simonga in the village of Siachilaba in the Binga area along the Zambezi River.  This encounter aims to recognise the traditional Ngoma Buntibe music as highly appreciated musical art form / Tonkunst of the Tonga people, and highlight it again as a source of inspiration.  From there the Austrian artists will take some more impressions and ideas along on their journey to Harare.

At the Book Café in Harare the quartet from Austria will meet some outstanding and open-minded Zimbabwean musicians for an extensive exchange. They will retreat for an intense rehearsal phase with a focus on Mbira music and its derivative forms such as Chimurenga and Mbira-inspired contemporary music styles.  Such dense and creative interaction will result in the formation of the cross-cultural Kunzwana # 1 ensemble, striking a balance between different styles and cultures and ready to excel in performances at the Book Café and Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA) 2014, and other venues in Southern Africa.  Further joint performances at music festivals in Austria in July 2014 are already in the pipeline.

Time's Up for Tales of Resilience - Itinerant Story Telling/Story Building in Southern Africa and Austria in 2014

Often it is an individual experience – wrapped up as a story – which eventually allows the reception of a past, the comprehension of the present and the formulation of a future. Furthermore, or in fact precisely because of and through that - stories enable an insight into „The Other“ - a view of the other life, the other culture, the other approach or mindset.  Apart from “The Other,” stories let us see “The Common”, similar values, familiar desires and kindred visions. Through listening to them and trying to understand them, stories make us more tolerant in our dealing with cultural differences and multiple identities, they bring us closer to each other and place the commonalities above the separations.

Tales of Resilience traces stories from people who travel and have traveled between regions, cultures and continents; people who move and have moved between their origins and other worlds. Tales of Resilience documents and shares their experiences, adventures and perceptions. The project archives what these people left behind them, what they have taken with them, what they collected and what they lost along the way.  Whether forced to move or by their own volition, whether for reasons of family, politics, religion or livelihood, the stories are tales of resilience, the many ways in which people react to their circumstances.

Tales of Resilience is an itinerant Story Telling/Story Building project by a group of Austrian and Zimbabwean artists in April / May 2014. The outcome of this collaboration between Time's Up, Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association, Pamberi Trust, local artists and art institutions will be presented in Southern Africa and back in Austria.

KUNZWANA # 1 - a resounding success

All in all the Kunzwana # 1 concept proved to be not only feasible but also relevant as a valuable experiment of artistic trans-cultural encounter and collaboration of musicians from diverse backgrounds. At least in parts this has led to new forms and blends of music styles which caught the attention and curiosity of the audiences. It has also found wide coverage by the media not only in Austria. Eventually the project has gone far to challenge some stereotypes of African and so-called World music alike.

The combination of musical and other artistic forms of story-telling (Tales of Resilience, visuals, interface and new media) was well received and has been transgressing the boundaries of otherwise often segregated fields of art. Overall (in Southern Africa and Austria) the project has evolved in 6 workshops and rehearsals, 7 concerts of the full Kunzwana # 1 ensemble, 5 more concerts with some musicians only taking part, 3 openings of exhibitions or presentations of Tales of Resilience, plus some jam sessions or individual artists joining other groups or performances. What a range of activities conducted in a short period of time. (The mileage of the journey by minibus in Austria alone was more than 2500km!)

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