The NMBZ Group has a long history of supporting the arts in this country, and returned to the list of Hifa Investors in 2011 to back the Hifa classical music programme’s special venue, the Dutch Reformed Church on Samora Machel Avenue, this year again to be dubbed the NMB Bank Recital Room.
The same investment last year proved successful for NMB, which primarily caters for high net worth or potentially high net worth businesses and individuals, a socio-economic grouping with a passion for classical music.
Hifa each year offers those who love such music the opportunity to feast upon it in this perfect venue for such concerts, and 2012 is no exception.
The line up is wonderfully diverse and will satisfy the musical hunger of all who love more classical sounds, though there are several more contemporary components, too.
The programme features our own star soprano:
Lorna Kelly, with friends, Paul Colman and Ruth Chard on piano and John Kelly on clarinet;
From London, Gerard Rundell and Alex Wilson on percussion and piano; From Finland, an unusual concert by solo accordion player, Harri Kuusijarvi;
A delightful Soirée of Song from American opera stars Lequita Mitchell, Camille Zamora, Ronnita Miller and Michael Slattery, who will also perform on Telecel Main Stage, offering us an intimate recital of treasures from Berlin to Broadway and beyond with William Hobbs on piano; then Dr K Sextet from London, playing two diverse programmes which include favourites, Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story and Ravel’s Bolero;
From the Netherlands, the innovative Wooden Strings duo, comprising Mexican percussionist Aldo Aranda and French-British harpist Sarah Nichols, with a unique cross-cultural sound on a range of instruments;
Talented young pianist Eren Levendoglu, who grew up in Harare, was tutored by our own Di Wright and Ann Beck and now lives in Turkey;
David Neerman and Lansine Kouyate, who offer a unique acoustic performance on balafon and vibraphone, and will also play at the Telecel Main Stage;
Caitlin Felsman, who grew up in Zimbabwe, was taught by Lorna Kelly, and is now a professional opera singer in Boston, with South African pianist and organist Neil Krog;
UK-based trio Crowe, Kermani and Wilson, on flute, clarinet and piano respectively, with a varied programme that will appeal to all classical music enthusiasts; and a mesmerising concert demonstrating his virtuosity, by Spanish guitarist Samuel Diz.
Last to be mentioned but by no means least, is an all-Zimbabwean choir with a dazzling collection of visiting soloists and accompanists, conducted by Paul Colman, who lived here for years and was musical director of several Hifa Opening Shows, who together will present The Armed Man — a Mass for Peace by Karl Jenkins.
This is the most performed work by a living composer today, and is dedicated to the victims of the horrific Kosovo conflict.
It is an anti-war composition based on the Catholic mass, combined with elements from other religions, and including words by Rudyard Kipling, Alfred Lord Tennyson, and Sankichi Toge, who survived the Hiroshima bombing but like many, succumbed to leukaemia some years later. Poignantly, the CD of this work was released on September 10 2001, just a day before 9/11.
With such a varied and interesting line-up, without doubt the NMB Bank Recital Room will once again be packed throughout Hifa, and NMB Bank staff will be very busy chatting to Festival goes in between the concerts, about the latest products and developments from NMB, which first launched as a merchant bank in 1992 and listed simultaneously on the Zimbabwe and the London Stock Exchanges in 1997.
Since the end of the hyper-inflationary period and the return home of its founding directors from abroad, NMBZ Holdings, which incorporates corporate, retail and international banking, treasury and agribusiness operations, has made a major comeback in Zimbabwe’s banking world.