Tag Archives: BZAM

Christmas Celebration as 1700 turn out to hear 330 Academy Students ..

Christmas Celebration as 1700 turn out to hear 330 Academy Students ..

More than 1700 people brought candles to the Amphitheatre in Bulawayo’s Centenary Park on Tuesday night to join over 330 Zimbabwe Academy of Music students celebrating Christmas. The students, drawn from schools across Bulawayo, sang carols, their own arrangements of Christmas music old and new, and staged a musical Nativity play. The majority of the performers were participants in the Bulawayo Schools Music Project, which is funded by the British Council and supporters of BZAM – British Friend’s of the Zimbabwe Academy of Music.

Members of the Bulawayo Salvation Army Band, Academy Brass, and the Marimba ensemble Rainbow Blaze joined in the spectacular evening, BSMP’s biggest community project yet.

A Triumphant Academy Showcase

Bravo to all those who made last night’s Zimbabwe Academy of Music/Bulawayo Schools Music Project gala so successful.

Taking part in ‘Jonah Man Jazz’ and Terry Riley’s ‘In C’ were students from :-

Centenary Primary School, Coghlan Primary School, Dominican Convent Primary School, Girls’ College, Helemu Primary School, King George VI School, Losikeyi Primary School, Masiyephambili Junior School, McKeurtan Primary School, Mgoqo Primary School, Mtshede Primary School, Mzilikazi Primary School, Ntabeni Primary School, Petra Primary School, Sigombe Primary School, Sizane Secondary School and St.Thomas Aquinas Primary School.

They were joined by an orchestra of teachers and students at the Academy,  along with pupils from Girls’ College, Petra Primary and Sizane Secondary School.

Congratulations to all those who worked with the participants,  including Rose Green, Vusi Ndebele, Adri Botha, Ben Chiwakira, Jeanette Delport, Brian Hartman, Shirley Jerrard, Obadiah Mthombeni, Christiane Price,Ineke te Velde,  Jill Wilde and teachers from the Participating Schools.  A big vote of thanks as well to visiting teachers and course leaders Rebecca Baxter and Richard Sisson,  and Michael Bullivant and Bruce MacDonald of ZAM.

The showcase gala is performed again this evening (Wed 4th Dec),  with guests including British Ambassador HE Deborah Bronnert,  and Jill Coates,  director of British Council Zimbabwe.

The Bulawayo Schools Music Project is jointly funded by The British Council Zimbabwe and donors to BZAM – British Friends of the Zimbabwe Academy of Music. 

A bumper Christmas at the Academy

British music teacher Becs Baxter is currently in Bulawayo working with students from ZAM on their Christmas showcase.  Around 70 Saturday School members will join with other students in two special gala concerts on December 3rd and 4th.

Girls’ College Choir and Orchestra and vocal groups from Convent and Petra High Schools will also take part,  performing Christmas carols,  Jonah Man Jazz and what is almost certainly the first performance in Zimbabwe of Terry Riley’s In C.   

Meanwhile on December 10th, we’ll be creating another huge Bulawayo Community Choir for Carols by Candlelight at Centenary Park.   Following in the footsteps of last years Carnival of the Carnivores,  we hope more than 500 young people from across the city will join the massed ranks of forces,  with the ZAM Band and Bulawayo Salvation Army Band. 

BZAM Trustee Richard Sisson will be on the ground to help marshal the enormous forces – and create another spectacular community event.  Come and join us if you are in town.


  • ZAM Academy Showcases – Tue 3rd, Wed 4th Dec 1800 Sibson Hall at the Academy
  • Carols by Candelight – Tue 10th Dec, Ampitheatre, Centenary Park 1830 


Both events are fully supported by the Bulawayo Schools Music Programme,  which is funded by British Council Zimbabwe and BZAM – British Friends of the Zimbabwe Academy of Music


New term for Bulawayo Saturday Music School

New term for Bulawayo Saturday Music School

Nearly seventy young students from across Bulawayo gathered at the Zimbabwe Academy of Music on Saturday for the first of a new term of BSMP Saturday Schools. The aspiring musicians, drawn from state, council and private schools across the city, have the opportunity to study strings, percussion, marimba and brass instruments – as well as singing in the Saturday School Choir, and exploring music theory.

Once again the course has been over-subscribed, with teachers from schools in the Western Suburbs launching their own choirs and music ensembles for pupils who can’t get a place on the Academy Saturday School.

The project will run for 12 weekends through until the end of the year, culminating in a series of concerts at the Academy. Watch this space for details.

The Saturday School’s are part of the Bulawayo Schools Music Project, jointly funded by the British Council Zimbabwe and the British Friends of the Zimbabwe Academy of Music. If you are based outside Zimbabwe, and would like to know more about BZAM, or help support its work, please contact the trustees via email – contact@bzam.org.uk

Five prove music can transform lives

The Royal Philharmonic Society today awarded Honorary Membership to five inspirational artists who have proven music can change lives.  Two of the recipients run projects based in Africa,  reports BZAM Trustee Petroc Trelawny, who attended a seminar celebrating their achievements in London this morning. 

Armand Diangienda Wabasolele is a former airline pilot who founded and runs the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste in Kinshasa,  Democractic Republic of Congo. Rosemary Nalden founded the charity Buskaid 21 years ago. It now runs a music school in Soweto, South Africa.

Honorary Membership of the RPS has been awarded fewer than 130 times in the societies 200 year history. Brahms, Weber, Stravinsky, and former ZAM student Graham Johnson are amongst previous recipients.  Today, it was also presented to Ricardo Castro, the pianist who founded the NEOJIBA Orchestra in Bahia, Brazil, Dr Ahmad Sarmast, founder of the Afghanistan National Institute of Music in Kabul, and Aaron P Dworkin, whose Sphinx Organisation works to ensure classical music embraces aspiring Black and Latino musicians in the United States.

Ricardo Castro talked about how music ‘prepares people to be more responsible and disciplined’.  Of his experiences in Kinshasa, Armand Wabasolele recalled that when he started the orchestra, ‘people had a problem with classical music.  They thought it was music to go to sleep with.  It was not well received when a child told his father he wanted to play an instrument’.   Now it has all changed,  he said ‘with parents actively bringing their children to us to be taught’.

Training teachers to embrace classical music is one of the aims of the Bulawayo Schools Music Project.  Rosemary Nalden explained how it was key to her work with Buskaid in Soweto.  ‘The only thing the new teachers lack is experience’,  she said,  ‘but that will come with time’.

Both Mr Wabasolele and Dr Sarmast told of how their students perform western classical works,  alongside the indigenous music of their respective countries. ‘Beethoven,  Bach and Mozart don’t belong to Europe and America’ said Dr Sarmast, ‘they belong to the world and Afghanistan as a right to them as well’.

The five awardees will be formally be presented with their Honorary Membership at a dinner in London tonight.  The programme which brought them to the UK, called Music Transforms Lives,  was supported by the British Council, partners with BZAM in the Bulawayo Schools Music Project.  



Bulawayo musicians off to capital

Song of the Carnivores, Richard Sisson’s highly acclaimed community cantata gets its Harare premiere this week. Pupils from Government schools in Bulawayo will join students from across Zimbabwe in a performance at the 7 Arts Theatre.  The show, led by ZAM Head of Outreach Vusi Ndbele, and conducted by the composer is part of HIFA – The Harare International Festival of the Arts.

500 children took part in the premiere of Song of the Carnivores in Bulawayo last May, the culmination of a project sponsored by BZAM, the British Council and ZSL – Zoological Society of London.  The Harare show will feature around 100 students, two soloists, four string quartets, a marimba band and double bassist Leon Bosch. 

If you are in Harare,  come and see Song of the Carnivores on Friday May 3rd at 1pm.  Full details here.  

Meanwhile plans are underway for the next community music event in Bulawayo, coordinated by ZAM and scheduled for this December.

BZAM raises funds in London

Supporters and friends of BZAM gathered at 49, Queens Gate Terrace in London last Wednesday (March 13) for a gala fundraising concert.   Three artists who have visited the Academy took to the stage at the Vernon Ellis Foundation.  Njabulo Madlala,  who sang in last summer’s Bulawayo performances of Song of the Carnivores and Carmina Burana, was joined by pianist William Vann to perform songs by Schubert, Vaughan Williams and R. Strauss.  The distinguished Liszt pianist Leslie Howard,  who has so far made thirteen trips to Zimbabwe,  and is an Honorary Fellow of the Academy, performed Liszt’s Legendes, and teamed up with David Barnard to play Poulenc’s Sonata for Piano Four-hands.  David spent several weeks in the Western Suburbs last year coaching students taking part in Song of the Carnivores.

Trustee Petroc Trelawny spoke of what BZAM had achieved so far, funding teachers salaries and student bursaries, providing equipment and advice, and supporting visits by inspirational musical figures like Njabulo, David and Mary King, head of the South Banks Voice Lab, who was a special guest.   He then talked about the Bulawayo Schools Music Project (BSMP), which will run weekly Saturday Schools, with 75% of the students drawn from Government schools in the Western Suburbs and city centre, stage annual mass participation community music events,  and sponsor a certificate course for teachers who want to be able teach music to their students.  He confirmed the relationship between BZAM and the British Council which will fund the BSMP,  and thanked other supporters of BZAM including Stanbic Bank, Musequality and the Royal Overseas League.   ‘We are thrilled to be entering into this exciting partnership with the British Council’, Trelawny told the audience,  ‘but that still leaves us with the task of raising at least £25,000 for our share of the BSMP, and our continued direct funding of the Academy’.   Appealing for support,  he asked guests to spread the word about BZAM’s plans with friends and colleagues who share an interest in music and Zimbabwe.

Guests at the event drank wines from South Africa generously supported by High Timber Restaurant.

African song raises money for music in Bulawayo

African song raises money for music in Bulawayo

Baritone Njabulo Madlala and pianist William Vann take a bow after performing folk songs from Southern Africa at last weeks BZAM Fundraiser. The concert, at 49 Queens Gate Terrace in London, home of the Vernon Ellis Foundation, also featured Bulawayo veterans Leslie Howard and David Barnard. Full report soon.

Truro collection raises in excess of £700

A collection at Truro Cathedral on Saturday night raised £724.40 for BZAM.  Gifts were made by audience members at the Three Spires Singers pre-Christmas performance of Handel’s oratorio ‘Messiah’.  Speaking before the concert,  Trustee Petroc Trelawny said how touched he was at the decision by members of the choir to organise a retiring collection in aid in BZAM.  In a note in the programme,  he thanked the Dean and Chapter of Truro Cathedral for allowing the collection to take place.

As well as being a BZAM trustee, Petroc Trelawny is President of the Three Spires Singers. 

Christmas at the Academy

150 children from across Bulawayo took part in tonight’s Christmas concert at the Zimbabwe Academy of Music. The programme,  repeated tomorrow, features carols,  works written and performed by Academy students, and the African premiere of Gavin Bryar’s seminal 1971 minimalist work ‘Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet’.

The children taking part are drawn from a dozen schools,  Masiyephambili Junior, Masiyephambili College, Mtshede, Mzilikazi and Helemu Primary schools, Ntabeni , Petra High, Christian Brothers’ College,  Coghlan, Dominican Convent High, Girls’ College and King George VI,  a mix of fee paying and primarily Government funded schools,  located in the city centre and Western Suburbs.

The concert was supported by BZAM – The British Friends of the Zimbabwe Academy of Music,  and is part of our mission to a) ensure the survival of the Academy, b) make the Academy the centre of music and culture in Bulawayo,  and c) help it reach out to the broadest range of children and young people in the city.

The children prepared for the concerts under the direction of Vusi Ndbele,  an inspirational young Zimbabwean teacher in charge of outreach at the Academy,  whose salary is partly funded by BZAM.  Jeanne-Louise Moolman,  violist in the South African Odeion Quartet,  coached and led the orchestra,  and has also managed to give lessons to aspiring Academy violinists.  Her expenses and work permit were funded by BZAM.  And BZAM Trustee Richard Sisson led the project,  his costs covered by the British Council Zimbabwe,  who have become a major partner in ZAM/BZAM’s exciting new initiative, ‘The Bulawayo School’s Music Project’ (BSMP).

BSMP will be officially launched at tomorrow’s concert at the Academy, in the presence of Senator David Coltart,  Minister for Education and Arts in the Zimbabwe Government,  and HE Deborah Bronnert CMG,  the British Ambassador.   BSMP will be the driving force behind an annual major music project  (500 children took part in the first project, ‘The Song of the Carnivores’ at Bulawayo City Hall in May), a weekly Saturday school at the Academy for up to 100 children,  and bursary provision for talented children who show the commitment required to take up the study of an instrument.

The British Council have agreed to support BSMP with an annual grant of £20,000 for the next two years,  however BZAM must raise the remainder of the £35,000 a year running costs.  So far,  BZAM has proven that we can deliver high quality, valuable musical education for young people for a relatively small outlay. These projects also ensure the viability and survival of the Academy,  keeping the building alive and full of students.

To learn more about BZAM, donate, or help in our exciting project,  please email us at ‘contact@bzam.org.uk’.