An American non-profit group, Cultures in Harmony, is in the country to foster partnerships in the local arts industry that will benefit Zimbabweans as well as produce the first-ever symphony orchestra performance of Oliver Mtukudzi’s music.
The group is led by music teacher William Harvey, who has performed solo with orchestras in the Philippines, Argentina, Mexico, and USA. He will be joined by cello player Ryan Murphy and violist Kayleigh Miller. All three artists bring over 30 years of musical experience that spurn across continents fusing various local musical genres with Western classical music.
Harvey spent four years teaching violin at Afghanistan National Institute of Music (ANIM), where he founded the Afghan Youth Orchestra (AYO), which he conducted eight times for President Karzai and led on a tour of the USA which he coordinated. In 2012 and 2013, he led them on the season finales of Afghan Star, the hugely popular televised singing contest on which he was a guest judge in 2011.
Kayleigh played violin for 12 years prior to becoming a violist, participated in numerous youth orchestras, and gained leadership skills as a concertmaster and section leader. She is a member of the Boston-based Discovery Ensemble, and has performed with the Boston Philharmonic since 2006. Her interest in community service began in high school, where she performed at local senior centers, elementary school classrooms, and on a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. She has taught strings, music history, and sight-singing in a wide variety of settings.
Mr. Murphy, who is on his third visit to Zimbabwe since 2006, is an avid orchestral player and joined the San Antonio Symphony for their 2012-2013 season and became a tenured member of the cello section the next year. He has previously participated in the Pittsburgh Symphony’s OTPAAM program which is an orchestral training program for African American musicians. During the summer he plays in the Colorado Music Festival in Boulder, Colorado.
The three Americans will participate in the annual Musicamp event facilitated by the National Musicamp Association of Zimbabwe between Saturday August 22nd and Friday August 29th in Marondera teaching music composition and other related musical subjects.
Harvey said he was working on compositions of several of Oliver Mtukudzi’s songs that will be performed by the Zimbabwean musical icon and the Musicamp Orchestra at a concert scheduled for Friday August 29th 2015 at St George College Hall in Harare. The Musicamp Orchestra is made up of students drawn from Zimbabwe and South Africa. The group will also perform at a benefit concert with proceeds being channeled to Eyes for Africa, Zimbabwe on Saturday.
The American musicians will also perform and conduct music lessons at the Pfumvudza Arts Festival which opens in Marondera’s Wise Owl School on Wednesday evening. The festival is being coordinated by the Revival Arts Trust and will include exhibitions, workshops and performances fused with a mix of mbira and European classical performances. Among the local groups to perform at the Festival are African Roots, winners of this year’s Chibuku Road to Fame contest.
In 2010, Cultures in Harmony was named a Best Practice in International Cultural Engagement (along with the Kennedy Center & Library of Congress) by the US Center for Citizen Diplomacy. CiH workshops in Pakistan, Qatar, Egypt, the Philippines, Tunisia, Zimbabwe, and Mexico have benefited thousands of young musicians- ZimPAS © August 18th 2015.