Since earliest times music and dance have played a major role in uniting people through ritual, often seeking union with the divine through trance or ecstasy. This festival seeks to bring back some spiritual nourishment to our lives; to focus our physical and mental selves. While the music and rituals associated with each genre are very different from each other, they share a common thread in bringing people together in search of enlightenment. These are just a few of the many forms that music takes to enrich our lives.
For centuries the Shona people of Zimbabwe have connected with the spirits of ancestors. These spirits are summoned by spirit mediums at biras, all-night ritual ceremonies where mystical mbira (metal-pronged thumb piano) music is played and people participate through dancing, singing, ululating and sometimes whistling. The collective energy created evokes a trance atmosphere that summons the spirits of ancestors to come and give daily guidance and healing.
The internationally renowned traditional mbira master Chartwell Dutiro (mbira, lead vocal, dance), who played mbira in bira ceremonies in his native Zimbabwe from the age of four and is best known for his eight-year stint with Zimbabwe’s famed Thomas Mapfumo & the Blacks Unlimited, is joined by his son Shorai Dutiro (mbira, vocal), Glenn West (mbira, vocal), Nora Balaban (mbira, vocal) and Bill Ruyle (hosho – gourds, tabla – tuned drums, percussion).
“If you can talk you can sing. If you can walk, you can dance – or just sit and reflect.” – Zimbabwean proverb
“enchanting” – Time Out New York