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AWESOME AFRICA MUSIC FESTIVAL (article first published : 2003-08-19)

One of the key events on the KZN cultural calendar is the fifth The Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival, which will be held for the first time this year in Durban’s Albert Park.

The festival has developed a unique multi-cultural musical identity which includes unusual marriages of different genres and styles as well as musicianship of the highest order. It is well on its way to establishing Durban as a nucleus of excellence in the African arts.

The choice of the venue is an integral part of the urban renewal project in Durban. The idea is to bring visitors back into the increasingly cosmopolitan CBD by creating an exciting point of focus and link the bustling Albert Park area with the nearby places of interest in the small craft harbour.

The general theme of the music focuses on collaborations with artists from the African continent and beyond. It represents a massive cross-cultural fusion of energy that attracts musicians and music lovers nationally and internationally. This year there will be more of a focus on multi-disciplinary collaborations involving visual art, dancing, music, cuisine and the spoken word.

A new musical aspect to this year’s festival is the inclusion of the Gateway Philharmonic Orchestra, an amateur and teaching orchestra based in Durban. The 55 member orchestra is under the baton of Philipp Maier and is breaking new musical ground with the inclusion of indigenous music into original orchestral compositions. “We are writing new pieces to reflect the “profile and feel” of this event. The fusion of all musical elements from classical, to indigenous, rock, to gospel to kwaito is our aim”, says Philipp Maier.

A second exciting feature of this year’s festival is the "Trancing in Dreamtime" collaboration between Australian Aboriginals and San Bushmen. Kerrianne Cox is one of Australia’s premier indigenous artists known for her distinctive voice, powerful stage presence and strong lyrical content. Her music engages her audiences in thought-provoking social issues. Also an accomplished songwriter, Kerrianne’s style crosses from funky blues to soul fusion and folk. The lyrics for her music emerge from her own life experience and her strong connection to the land.

As in previous years there will be a rich selection of satellite events in the time leading up to the festival in areas in and around Durban featuring Awesome Africa participants performing with emerging and established artists in which the event is being held. In previous years, some of the most boundary-breaking collaborations have been established in the curtain-raiser events.

On September 26, Awesome Africa will host a Hip Hop evening at the BAT Centre featuring local Durban act Blackfist of Garvey and an international collaboration between Constructus from SA, Interlope from France and Zong from the Reunion Islands.

Booking for the Standard Bank Awesome Africa Music Festival is through Computicket. More information from 031 206 2494.




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