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.

The name Kunzwana is adopted from the original project by the late Keith Goddard, broadly following his ideas and legacy.  The Austria-Zimbabwe Friendship Association (AZFA) and Kunzwana Trust have been engaged in cultural exchange projects between Austria and Zimbabwe over the past 20 years, involving Zimbabwean celebrities like Thomas Mapfumo, Chiwoniso Maraire and Oliver Mtukudzi, but also promoting the generally unknown musical art form / Tonkunst of the Valley Tonga by featuring the group Simonga from remote Siachilaba, both within Zimbabwe and abroad.

Parallel and interwoven with this musical journey and exchange runs the Tales of Resilience project as another collaboration between Austrian and Zimbabwean artists researching and celebrating the resilience of Tonga and Mbira music and culture. This project will present its outcome as an arts installation in the context of HIFA at the Book Café in Harare, along with the "echoe/S" installation by Klaus Hollinetz/Werner Puntigam and an exhibition of photos created by Simonga women under the guidance of the Gwanza Month of Photography curator Calvin Dondo.

The key musicians proposed to form the Kunzwana # 1 ensemble are:

Isabelle DUTHOIT / F –  (voice & clarinet) - Noted for her large range and distinctive voice, Isabelle “boasts an incredibly dense and impulsive stage performance”. www.concerts.fr/Biographie/isabelle-duthoit

Franz HAUTZINGER / AT  – A versatile, highly rated (quarter-tone) trumpet player described as “the reluctant reductionist” by ‘The Wire’,  “…has developed his quarter-tone trumpet to a whole new kind of expression, in which he elicits bizarre sounds and noises. In his solo performance, he creates adventurous soundscapes that sound more like electronic music than a trumpet”.  http://www.franzhautzinger.com/

Over the last few years the two protagonists of the international abstract music scene have worked together.  In the process they have developed instant composed music and form and shaped their sound patterns and abstract constructs as experimental improvised music.

Klaus HOLLINETZ / AT  – (electro-acoustic compositions, digital and ambient soundscapes) – Hollinetz has for many years been involved in the encounter of different musical forms like Mbira music (“Mbirations”) and the Ngoma Buntibe music of the Tonga people (“Six Reflections” and others).  He creates with digital sounds and musical structures a bridge to compositional processes and electro-acoustic music, way off the cliché of so-called world music.  http://www.servus.at/pntgm/ph.htm

Werner PUNTIGAM / AT – (trombone, conch shell, visuals) – A frequent arts and music traveler between Austria and Southern Africa, well known for his “pntgm EAR X EYE” productions: music (composition & improvisation) / visual artworks (photography & design) / interdisciplinary (performance & installation); founder of several intercultural projects such as "Mbirations" or "Mo' Some Big Noise" among many others. http://www.servus.at/pntgm/

Werner Puntigam and Klaus Hollinetz have a strong record in interdisciplinary and inter-cultural activities. Both artists were invited by the Austria Zimbabwe Friendship Association to Zimbabwe in 1997 as highly individual composers, to reflect on the extraordinary music of the Tonga people through their own compositions. In "echoe/S" (S refers to the village of Siachilaba), they recover several acoustic and visual materials collected over the last few years in the village, and remix it for a new, complex multimedia space installation. http://www.servus.at/pntgm/echoe-S.htm

Hope MASIKE / ZIM  - (vocals, mbira) – Awarded the Zimbabwe Arts Council’s National Arts Merit Award for ‘Outstanding Female Musician of 2012’, Hope Masike is one of Zimbabwe's most sensational mbira-players to emerge in this decade.  She is arguably responsible for unearthing new musical possibilities in mbira in this era. Best known for her sizzling voice and her role in the popularisation of modern mbira music, Masike takes pride in dressing mbira in news cloaks. Her music is a together-blend of different music styles, with a fascinating repertoire ranging from ancient traditional mbira classics to jazz- driven instrumentals in irregular time, and funk.  It is well received in Zimbabwe and the region, with collaborations in Europe in the last 3 years with artists from Norway, Sweden and Mozambique.

Kunzwana # 1 will also feature other musicians from the Southern African region, such as Josh Meck (guitar/bass), Washington Guveya (chimurenga guitar), Blessing Chimanga and Orthnell ‘MANGOMA’ Moyo (percussion) amongst others.  

The artists collaborating for the Tales of Resilience project are: Tina Auer, Tim Boykett and Andi Mayrhofer from Time's Up / AT (http://www.timesup.org/);  Calvin Dondo and Annie Mpalume / ZIM.