Cantata for Choir, Soloists and Orchestra (25 mins)
Music: Bryan Kesselman
Words: Russ McAnulla
First performance 2 June 2016, Reps Theatre, Harare, Zimbabwe
First British performance: 27 July 2016, St John's Wood Church, London.
Performers in Zimbabwe
Chitungwiza Harmony Singers of Zimbabwe
Performers in London
Teressa Edwards, Rebecca Anstey, Nick Allen, George Tamisai
Conductor: Michael Cayton
Members of Tonic Choir, Total Praise UK Singers, and Chitungwiza Harmony Singers of Zimbabwe
The Wallace Ensemble
Click for details of how your choral society can perform Zimbabwe Suite.
The Zimbabwe Suite (Kesselman/McAnulla)
Written in 2015, this new piece was first performed in Harare during May 2016. The work is in five movements, each describing a different element of the Zimbabwe landscape and life. Two of these sections have been translated into Shona and Ndebele, the two main local languages used in Zimbabwe in addition to the "official" language of English. The Zimbabwe Suite was given its world premiere in Harare by the Chitungwiza Harmony Singers accompanied by two pianos. The London performance was with orchestra as originally conceived.
The work is in five sections, each describing a different element of the Zimbabwe landscape and life.
1..."Eastern highlands" A majestic mountain range rising steeply from the central African plateau. Green and lush.
2..."Our Africa" The bustling villages and vibrant cities that make all visitors fall in love with Zimbabwe.
3..."Great Zimbabwe" The enigmatic ancient ruins of a city civilisation in the South of Zimbabwe.
4..."Safari walks" A description of a few of the many wonderful wild animals that you can encounter on the walking safaris available in the safari camps, the wildest of them in the North of the country.
5..."Victoria Falls" One of the most famous falls in the world, situated on the great Zambezi river, in the West of Zimbabwe.
Two of these pieces have been translated into Shona and Ndebele, the two main local languages used in Zimbabwe in addition to the "official" language of English.
A few words from London concert promoter, Russ McAnulla
I became a lover of sub Saharan Africa when I spent many happy years there in the late 70's and early 80's, bringing up my children through their formative years in the unrivalled sunshine and free way of life that only that area of the world seems to supply. In those days I was not a singer, but a bell-ringer by hobby, ringing at Harare Cathedral. One of my fellow ringers in those days recently mentioned in an email that she had become involved with a very good local choir in Harare, where she still lives. This triggered a desire to tell people about the wonders of Zimbabwe using words and music. I set to work in an attempt to paint pictures of Zimbabwe, using words. When this was complete, I approached Bryan, who composed some stunning music to bring these mundane words to wonderful life.
I first encountered Bryan's music when I sang in the first performance of his "Voices which must be heard". I was hooked from the first rehearsal! I subsequently joined the "Tonic Extra" choir, which premiered another of his works; "The Seven Ages of Man" last year. After collaborating with Bryan to produce the "Zimbabwe Suite", initially for a Harare based choir, I decided that it would be great fun to perform it in the UK too. The conductor Michael Cayton invited us to use the wonderful St John's Wood church as a venue. The church has wonderful acoustics, and is large enough to accommodate an orchestra as well as a choir. I thought that would be a great opportunity to showcase a whole concert of Bryan's work, with an orchestral accompaniment. So we brought together two choirs along with a great orchestra, soloists and conductor, for a night to truly remember.
Reactions from audience and performers
We very much enjoyed the Zimbabwe concert. It was melodic, exciting and deeply moving.
We both thought that last night was "better than terrific". It was a wonderful piece of musical theatre. The Zimbabwe Suite's music and words were truly powerful and performed so well by a powerful choir.
I really enjoyed the concert last night. The Zimbabwe suite was an amazing orchestral explosion of music. Very creative. And must have taken quite a considerable time to complete. Absolutely wonderful.
What an amazing evening — we enjoyed the whole concert, especially the Zimbabwe Suite. How original and uplifting. Thanks for a memorable event.
Your concert at St Johns Wood made for a superb evening.
A quickie to say how much I enjoyed listening to the atmospheric Zimbabwe Suite.
I just wanted to say how much my daughter and I enjoyed your concert last Wednesday. Hearing the Seven Ages of Man for the first time was great, but the highlight was the Zimbabwe Suite — simply superb.
I would like to say how much I enjoyed singing and listening to your music. It does not fit into any of the genres I have sung to date, but is fresh and uplifting.
I loved the music and it was great to be involved!
It was a great event to be a part of, and I hope for you and the choirs that there might be more like it. Well done, and thank you for the music!