Music of Zimbabwe Featured at Denison
Posted: October 29, 2006
Denison University's Lilly Artist Series presents an evening of sacred and spiritual musical vibrations from Africa at 8 p.m. on Wednesday (Nov. 8) in Swasey Chapel. The performers represent the respected elder generation of mbira players in Zimbabwe and are known as the Mbira Masters of Zimbabwe -- Cosmas Magaya and Beauler Dyoko -- together with ethnomusicologist Paul Berliner. The event is free, open to the public and is cosponsored by the international studies department. The music has been described as "ancient resonance in twinkling syncopations" by The New York Times.
The mbira is a musical instrument of ancient origins. It has hand-forged tuned metal keys bound to a wooden soundboard or a hollow gourd. The free end of the keys are stroked and plucked with the thumbs and one forefinger to produce ringing, polyrhythmic tapestries that accompany stories, songs and dance.
Magaya is an internationally recognized master of the mbira dzaVadzimu. He performs and teaches mbira and has been invited to teach master classes at many universities such as Stanford, Northwestern and Duke. He has also completed several international performance tours and his work is featured on a number of critically acclaimed CDs.
Dyoko, known as the "Queen of Mbira Music," is Zimbabwe's first woman mbira recording artist. She also is leader and featured singer with the popular contemporary Mbira ensemble, The Black Souls. Dyoko is the sole supporter of a large extended family of grandchildren, nieces and nephews. She has written original songs in support of AIDS awareness and non-violence, teaches traditional Shona cooking and is an herbalist and a fashion designer.
Berliner is a professor of ethnomusicology, specializing in African music, at Duke University. He has recorded two albums of Shona mbira music with Zimbabwean artists in an effort to expand the popularity of this music. He and Magaya also have collaborated since 1971 on field research that resulted in the book, "The Soul of Mbira."
CALENDAR LISTING: Denison University, Granville -- The Lilly Artist Series presents the Mbira Masters of Zimbabwe; 8 p.m., Wednesday (Nov. 8), Swasey Chapel. Free and open to the public. Call 740-587-6369 to confirm information.
Denison University, founded in 1831, is an independent, residential liberal arts institution located in Granville, Ohio. A highly selective college enrolling 2,100 full-time undergraduate students from all 50 states and dozens of foreign countries, Denison is a place where innovative faculty and motivated students collaborate in rigorous scholarship, civic engagement and the cultivation of independent thinking.
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