UBUNTU: MUSIC AND ARTS OF SOUTH AFRICA
A CITYWIDE FESTIVAL EXPLORING
SOUTH AFRICAN ARTS & CULTURE
October 8 to November 5, 2014
ANGÉLIQUE KIDJO CLOSES CARNEGIE HALL’S FESTIVAL WITH
SPECIAL GUESTS EZRA KOENIG AND LAURA MVULA IN A
TRIBUTE TO ICONIC SINGER & ACTIVIST MIRIAM MAKEBA ON WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5
Dizu Plaatjies and Ibuyambo Perform Traditional Music of the Xhosa People and other
Southern African Traditions on Saturday, November 1 in Zankel Hall
Partner Events at Leading Cultural Institutions Extend the Reach of the Festival Citywide
The month-long, citywide festival UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa concludes in early November with events ranging from concerts at Carnegie Hall to music, theater, and film screenings at partner venues throughout New York City.
Acclaimed, Grammy Award-winning vocalist Angélique Kidjo closes the festival on Wednesday, November 5 at 8:00 p.m. in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage, leading a tribute to the life and music of the late, iconic South African singer Miriam Makeba with special guests Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend and singer Laura Mvula. Also appearing at the concert will be Makeba’s former supporting singers Zamokuhle “Zamo” Mbutho, Faith Kekana, and Stella Khumalo.
Known throughout the world as “Mama Africa,” Makeba was celebrated both for her voice and for her staunch opposition to Apartheid. In 1963, she became the first artist to testify about the repressive regime of her country at the United Nations—testimony that led to her loss of citizenship and right of return. In the years she spent in exile, Makeba performed across the globe, becoming a “citizen of the world” with honorary citizenship in ten countries, and spreading the message of the plight of her homeland. Makeba, who died in 2008, was a great mentor and friend to Angélique Kidjo.
Speaking about Makeba, Kidjo said, “For the generation of my mother she was an example of a woman having a career, and showing, already at that time, a different vision of Africa. She was the one that really gave me the opportunity to think that one day as an African woman, I can have a career as a singer, because when you start singing in Benin or in any other African country, as long as you … are singing traditional songs it’s okay. But as soon as you start performing on stage with drums, guitar, keyboards, or whatever it is … old people say that is evil. So when I became a performer on stage it was not easy at all for me. So here comes Miriam Makeba (when) I was struggling, asking myself if it was worth the singing, and she really nailed the choice for me. I said to myself, she is an African woman, she had a career, she has a voice, and she presents the Africa that I want to represent. So if she can, I surely can too.”
Kicking off week four of the festival, on Saturday, November 1 at 9:00 p.m. in Zankel Hall, traditional-instrument maker and master musician Dizu Plaatjies and his group Ibuyambo perform an energetic concert of traditional music of the Xhosa people—a Bantu ethnic group, and the second largest group in South Africa—and of other Southern African traditions. The music features drums, rattles, whistles, flutes, mouth harps, and stringed-instruments in addition to group singing and hand clapping. Popular Xhosa songs include a wedding song, “Qongqothwane,” performed by Miriam Makeba as “Click Song #1,” and “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa),” a hymn written in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, which was later adopted by the liberation movement, eventually becoming the national anthem of a democratic South Africa.
Additional festival highlights taking place throughout New York City include a second festival performance by Cape jazz musician, composer, drummer, and band leader Kesivan Naidoo with his quintet Kesivan and the Lights on Saturday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m. This free concert at Flushing Town Hall follows the ensemble’s Zankel Hall performance on Thursday, October 30 at 8:30 p.m. and is part of Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concerts presented by the Weill Music Institute.
Throughout the UBUNTU festival, an exhibition in Carnegie Hall’s Zankel Hall lobby, entitled Johannesburg in Print, celebrates the expression of South Africa’s visual arts community through the medium of printmaking. The displayed works were created in the city of Johannesburg and highlight the vibrant David Krut Print Workshop, which has fostered a creative community of emerging and established artists in South Africa for more than a decade.
UBUNTU extends throughout New York City, with festival programming at leading partner cultural institutions featuring music, dance, film, visual arts, panel discussions, and more.
On Saturday, November 1 at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday, November 2 at 2:00 p.m., festival partner The Paley Center for Media presents Spotlight on South Africa—a series of screenings featuring select interview and performance footage by celebrated South African artists and performers. Featured screenings include: Soul! (1971) with Hugh Masekela and the Union of South Africa; Paul Simon’s Graceland: The African Concert (1987); an interview with Nadine Gordimer on Voices: Writers and Politics (1985); and a 1965 appearance by Miriam Makeba on The Hollywood Palace.
The Isango Ensemble—a theatrical group whose performers are drawn from townships around Cape Town—under the direction of Mark Dornford-May, performs the New York premiere of The Magic Flute: Impempe Yomlingo, featuring Mozart’s score arranged for an orchestra of marimbas and percussion on Saturday, November 1 at 2:00 p.m. at The New Victory Theater, with eight additional performances through November 9. Sung in English by an ensemble of more than two dozen voices, the show is a fusion of fairy tale and African myth and won an Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival (Young Vic, London) and a Globes de Cristal for Best Opera (Théâtre du Châelet, Paris).
On Monday, November 3 at 8:00 p.m., at the Juilliard School, the New Juilliard Ensemble under the baton of Music Director Joel Sachs presents a selection of music by contemporary South African composers. The performance features world premieres by Robert Fokkens, Andile Khumalo, and Bongani Ndodana-Breen, as well as US premieres by Michael Blake, Paul Hanmer, and Clare Loveday, and a work by Kevin Volans.
UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa
“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 throughout the arts.”
Dedicated to Mr. Mandela’s legacy, the UBUNTU festival features Carnegie Hall performances by artists representing different musical traditions, including concerts 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 that may be less well-known: the powerful spirituality and dynamism of the maskandi music of the Zulu people, music from the Cape region including a Cape Malay choir and 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 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 the significant cultural issues.
UBUNTU partners include: African Film Festival Inc.; Anna Zorina Gallery; Apollo Theater; David Krut Projects; Flushing Town Hall; Hostos Center for Arts and Culture at Hostos Community College; Jazz at Lincoln Center; The Juilliard School; Keyes Art Projects; Margaret Mead Film Festival at the American Museum of Natural History; Marian Goodman Gallery; Mark Borghi Fine Art; The New Victory Theater; New York City Center; The New York Public Library; The Paley Center for Media; Queens College, City University of New York; Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; Ubuntu Education Fund; Weeksville Heritage Center; and the World Music Institute.
Carnegie Hall has launched a special UBUNTU festival website, 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.
UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa
Saturday, November 1 at 2:00 p.m.
The Paley Center is screening television programs that include Soul! (1971) with Hugh Masekela and the Union of South Africa, Paul Simon’s Graceland: The African Concert (1987), an interview with Nadine Gordimer on Voices: Writers and Politics (1985), and a 1965 appearance by Miriam Makeba on The Hollywood Palace.
The Paley Center for Media
Tickets: Free with Paley Center admission ($10 for adults, $8 for students and seniors, $5 for children under 14)
Presented by The Paley Center for Media.
Saturday, November 1 at 2:00 p.m.
THE MAGIC FLUTE: IMPEMPE YOMLINGO
The New Victory Theater
Presented by The New Victory Theater.
Saturday, November 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Flushing Town Hall
Carnegie Hall’s Neighborhood Concerts are sponsored by Target®.
Saturday, November 1 at 9:00 p.m.
Monday, November 3 at 8:00 p.m.
MICHAEL BLAKE Rural Arias (US Premiere)
Paul Recital Hall, Juilliard School
Tickets: Free, available beginning October 20.
Presented by The Juilliard School.
Wednesday, November 5 at 8:00 p.m.
MAMA AFRICA: A TRIBUTE TO MIRIAM MAKEBA
Additional support is provided by the Mai Family Foundation, South African Tourism, and South African Airways.
UBUNTU is held in collaboration with the South African Consulate General in New York in celebration of South Africa’s 20 years of freedom and democracy.
Bank of America is the Proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall.
Breguet is the Exclusive Timepiece of Carnegie Hall.
MasterCard is a Proud Supporter of Carnegie Hall.
United® is the Official Airline of Carnegie Hall.
Image at top of release by Nabil Elderkin