19 March 2017

Zimbabwe: Eisteddfod Marimba Challenge Draws Big Crowd

With a week left, the 2017 National Institute of Allied Arts (NIAA) Eisteddfod continues apace, keeping this year's adjudicators extremely busy. Italian-born adjudicator and drumming specialist Max Covini, who teaches at Peterhouse, held an enjoyable Drumkit Clinic following the drumkit adjudication sessions.

This was well-attended and enjoyed by budding young drummers who learned much from Covini. The coming week sees three more workshops for upcoming musicians, with open instrumental and piano lessons by principal adjudicator Corinne Marsh and open vocal lessons with adjudicator Andre Serfontein. The full Eisteddfod programme and venue details can be found on the NIAA Facebook page.

In addition to having a very active Facebook presence since 2015, NIAA is now found on the YouTube platform as well. On the NIAA Facebook page, many photos and video snippets of a cross-section of sessions provide a taste of each festival and a place where not only the participants, their families and friends, but also the public, can find film clips and pictures to enjoy and share. This publicises, maintains interest in, and spreads the word about the NIAA and its festivals, offering a peek at what happens there, as well as being a useful way to share visuals.

On the YouTube platform, to which links are found on the Facebook page, there are professionally-produced videos of complete performances delivered at a cross section of sessions, also to be enjoyed and shared by all involved and the public too, and add another dimension to NIAA's publicity. Last year, a video clip of Watershed School's performance at the Marimba Challenge posted on the NIAA Facebook page "went viral", after being very widely shared round the world by participants, their former schoolmates, families, friends and others. To date it has been viewed almost 10 million times, demonstrating the amazing reach and popularity of social media.

This year's Marimba Challenge was again a very exciting event. It drew a large enthusiastic audience who thoroughly enjoyed the energetic, skilful and humorous performances by entrants in the junior and senior school challenges. The standard was extremely high, so the adjudicators had their own tough challenge in identifying the winners. The Nic Manomano Junior Trophy went to Dominican Convent Primary School, with Eaglesvale Prep School being runners up, and the Kutinya Challenge Senior Trophy was won by Hillcrest College, with runners up being Prince Edward School.

Meanwhile, in the past week audiences have enjoyed lots of lovely western choral and instrumental music, plus vocal solos and duets, delivered by the youngest of children right through the ranks up to adults in the open sections.

On March 22, the Vocal Challenge will be held at Harare International School (HIS), featuring some of the very best of our country's singers in a wide range of genres. Like the Marimba Challenge, this offers the public a superb opportunity for a wonderful evening's entertainment. The final and junior highlights concerts featuring the cream of the crop across the musical genres adjudicated through the festival, wrap the Eisteddfod on March 25 and 26 at HIS. Tickets are being sold at the Spotlight, so don't miss these two special musical highlights of the year!

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