ENTRIES for the National Institute of Allied Arts Vocal and Instrumental Festival closed on February 13 and Nicky Hammond, festival director, said that there are about 300 more people performing than last year despite disruptions in government schools.
The festival gives anyone who sings well or plays a musical instrument the chance to perform in front of an audience, be adjudicated by an international expert and, for those who do well, there are 50 trophies to be won.
â€œWe are delighted with the response although some schools did struggle to be organised in time,â€ said Hammond.
Two girls from Girls High Schoolâ€™s Echo Choir in Harare raised the entrance fee themselves to enable their group to participate.
â€œIt was very touching and we allowed them to enter all the classes they wanted with the money they had raised,â€ said Hammond.
The festival is run entirely by volunteers and relies on money raised through entries and at the gate to pay its expenses. â€œWe are fortunate in that CBZ Bank and Mashonaland Holdings have given us some funds towards running costs this year, but we do need ongoing sponsorship to help meet the costs of our little office.â€
All the private schools in Harare have entered, with the largest numbers coming from Chisipite and the Peterhouse group of schools. Esigodini-based Falcon School has also entered this year, the first time in many years.
â€œThe big entries come from the schools such as Prince Edward, the Harare International School and one or two others,â€ said Hammond.Â â€œIt is easier for Harare-based schools but we have entries from Shashi View in Bindura, Goldridge in Gweru, Chiremba in Ruwa, Kyle College in Masvingo, Border Home which is actually an orphanage in Mutare and we expect more from outlying areas once the post reaches us.â€
Returning after a number of yearsâ€™ absence is the Churchill Pipe Band. It will be judged alongside the St Johnâ€™s College Pipe Band. While some might regard bagpipes as being peculiarly Scottish and therefore ethnic, the pipe bands fall into the Western music category for ease of judging.
There are 59 ethno-music classes, 201 for instruments and 42 for solo, duet and small vocal groups and 40 classes for choirs. Lilfordia Junior School has entered five choirs, making it the largest choral group.
The instrumental section covers classical instruments â€” all the strings, woodwind, orchestral, percussion, brass and piano â€” played solo, in duets, ensembles, orchestras and bands from grade one to eight. â€œThe only schools that can muster a full orchestra are Chisipite, Peterhouse and the Harare International School but there are a number of ensembles and groups entering,â€ said Hammond.
Vocal performers can sing contemporary songs, folk, gospel, opera, Gilbert and Sullivan, Lieder, Italian: pretty much anything a music teacher can dream up.
â€œWe try to be as accommodating as possible because the tiny band of music teachers do struggle to find the music, make time in the school syllabuses to practise, raise the cash to enter and, more of a problem, for transport to and from the festival. We want to make it as comprehensive and representative of Zimbabweâ€™s musicians as we can,â€ said Hammond. â€” Own Correspondent.