five outstanding acts from the United States of America are set to participate this week in the 14th annual Harare International Festival of the Arts (HIFA). HIFA runs from April 30 to May 5 under the theme “What’s next…”
The six-day festival will showcase local, regional and international arts and culture, including theatre, dance, music, spoken word, and the visual arts. The American delegation consists of a wide assortment of cultural acts, including outstanding singers from the Harlem-based gospel choir “Songs of Solomon,” conducted by veteran choir leader Pastor Chantel Wright. A firm believer in education through the arts, Pastor Wright founded her gospel choir in 2001 to give young people a sense of ownership and pride in their community. The gospel celebration concert will also feature 50 young Zimbabweans selected competitively for an outstanding, uplifting show as part of HIFA’s closing acts on May 5 at the Telecel main stage.
“We look forward to so many strong contributions by Americans at HIFA this year,” said Jillian Bonnardeaux, Deputy Public A airs O cer at the U.S. Embassy. “We are especially enthusiastic about the Songs of Inspiration collaboration because the performance is a true cultural exchange. American visitors are sharing their favorite songs with Zimbabwean singers, and Zimbabweans are sharing their local music and language, linking our two countries’ young people through song.”
Other Americans at HIFA this year are opera singer Lester Lynch, theater director Julie Wharton, dance theater from Ananya Dance Theatre company, and bass and trumpet improvisational player Jacob Bain from Seattle band Publish the Quest. Lynch’s commanding, rich voice will raise the curtain on Wednesday May 1 at the Cabs Opera Gala. Julie Wharton is staging Almasi Collaborative Arts’ interpretation of Sarah Ruhl’s play, “Dead Man’s Cellphone.” The play will come alive on May 2 and 5 at the Reps Theatre main stage. Meanwhile, Jacob Bain will perform May 2 in collaboration with Chris Williams on the Lays Global Stage.
Ananya Dance Theatre will perform ‘Moreechika’ at 7 Arts on Tuesday, April 30 in a production entitled “Moreechika.” It is the third work in a four-part investigation into systemic violence, trauma, resistance, and empowerment experienced by communities of color.
Last year’s American delegation was also a diverse group of vocalists, tap dancers, and jazz musicians, including Los Angeles’ Jazz Tap Ensemble, Latin jazz trumpeter Chris Washburne and his band Syotos, and opera vocalists Ronita Miller and Cailtin Felsman. The United States has participated in the last seven festivals, sending new, dynamic artists each year.
Since its inception in 1999, HIFA has become the largest cultural event in Zimbabwe and among the top eight arts festivals in Africa. HIFA has been recognized for bringing together disparate social and cultural groups, even during times of political and social uncertainty. This year’s theme, “What’s next?”, reflects the festival’s positive growth and future ambitions.