South African house band Mi Casa, music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi and Italian jazz drummer Roberto Gatto will lead this year’s edition of Musica — a four-day music event hosted by the Italian Embassy in Zimbabwe.
By Abigail Matsikidze
The festival, which turns 10 years this year, is running under the theme The World Coming Together in Zimbabwe and will also feature Italian jazz legends, saxophonist Raffaele Casarano and guitarist Lorenzo Petrocca.
Musica, which is focused on promoting peace through music, will run at various places in Harare from October 4 to 7, with the final concert taking place at the Italian Embassy in Chisipite.
“The 10th edition of Musica will be bigger and better than ever before. This is not just due to the formidable line-up of international and local musicians, who include Roberto Gatto — one of the world’s best jazz drummers — but also to the enhanced level of collaboration between them, in music as well as in fashion,” said Italian ambassador to Zimbabwe Enrico De Agostini.
De Agostini promised the public to expect an exquisite performance from those billed to perform at the showcase, saying the festival has grown to become one of the major highlights on the country’s cultural calendar.
“Musica in Zimbabwe started as a spin-off of another festival that we established in Mozambique called the Italia-Mozambique Jazz Festival, which I started in 2005 to celebrate the anniversary of the signing of the peace accord between Frelimo and Renamo in Rome 13 years before. The festival was and still is, focused on promoting peace through music,” he said.
“Zimbabwe’s first edition was held in 2007 under the name October Jazz Festival and it featured artists from Italy and Zimbabwe. 2014 was the major turning point because the festival was re-branded Musica. As the name changed, so did the concept. From then onwards, we opened it to all genres of music and to musicians from all over the world, including the United States, South Africa, Germany, Mozambique, Sweden, Senegal and France.”
De Agostini said collaborations were the best thing to come out of Musica.
“That is the whole point of Musica; it is about communication and building relationships, promoting understanding at different levels. We started this festival to promote dialogue between peoples through the universal language of music. A deeper level of communication between musicians happens both on stage and during workshops,” he said.
“The collaborations have taken the best of Zimbabwean artists to the global stage and provided them with international exposure. Artists such as Dudu Manhenga, Hope Masike and Blessing Chimanga have gone to tour Europe; collaborating with artists that they had met and worked with at the festival.
“The most enduring collaboration to come out of the festival is Zimboita, a group that is made up of Zimbabwean and Italian musicians and has Blessing Chimanga as its front man. I am very excited to have them at the festival this year, after two years of absence,” he said.
“Speaking of future collaborations, we are currently finalising the Move On Project, which we started in 2015. It’s a song about the peaceful resolution of conflicts, recorded over a period of about a year featuring outstanding international and Zimbabwean artists. It carries a message of peace to the world and it’s great to see such a huge and significant project originate here in Zimbabwe.”
Another key milestone of the festival was the introduction, also in 2014, of The Battle of the School Bands to the festival’s programming.
“Through this, we have reached out to teenagers and provided them with the opportunity to perform alongside established local and international artists in front of a mature audience. On October 1, we will have the finals of The Battle of the School Bands at St John’s Spring Fair where we will select the winners that will perform on Musica main stage.”