By Style Reporter
United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean artiste Anna Mudeka has been commissioned by the Hostry Festival in Norwich to lead The African Choir of Norfolk.
Mudeka, a singer, songwriter, dancer, musician and artistic director, has in turn sent invitations to people of African heritage from across the UK to lend their vocal talents to the choir, which will showcase the rich cultural heritage of the continent through a diverse repertoire.
The African Choir of Norfolk’s inaugural performance is scheduled for this year’s Hostry Festival in October. Not to be defeated by the Covid-19 lockdown in the UK, Arts Council England has funded Arts La’Olam to enable rehearsals to be transferred online, empowering members to unleash their full choral force in perfect harmonisation in time for the festival launch, and a follow-up performance at the Norfolk Arts Awards.
“Music is a great way to bring people together, and by going online we’re able to reach a larger group of people, which is essential during these uncertain and stressful times,” Mudeka said.
“When the choir was formed before the lockdown, women, both young and old, were developing a sisterhood, and being able to transfer the rehearsals online — thanks to Arts La’Olam and the Arts Council — is wonderful. These rehearsals are a lifeline to some women and the future development of the choir.”
Artistic director of the Hostry Festival Stash Kirkbride said they were pleased that the Arts Council England was supporting the new online African Choir, enabling them to reach more people.
“We’re grateful for the support and partnership with Arts La’Olam; the support network for the choir has expanded, enabling the choir to become even more vibrant and exciting,” Kirkbride said.
“I’m very pleased Anna Mudeka is heading up this project — her boundless energy will certainly come across on the Zoom choir rehearsals, which is great for the choir members. Being able to go online has been one of the positive aspects of the lockdown, when we’ve had to think more creatively than usual.
“The new initiative in partnership with Hostry means we can support a worthwhile and exciting project.”
The choir is part of #betweenspaces, a new virtual programme of events, commissions and participatory online workshops from Arts La’Olam that address social isolation, bring families and people of all ages together in a spirit of creative celebration, and create legacy artworks that commemorate these curious and crucial times.