Every year, Musicamp takes place during the August school holidays. Hosted at Peterhouse Girls High School in Marondera, it caters to people of all ages looking to play and enjoy classical music.
Sixty-five musicians aged 11 to 85-years old attended Musicamp this year, the 51st anniversary. This year’s final show was arguably the best showcase in the camp’s history. In addition to the usual performances from the Musicamp bands and ensembles, the 2015 final show featured a collaboration with Oliver ‘Tuku’ Mtukukdzi, who is perhaps, Zimbabwe’s best recognised musician.
This year the camp was led by Peterhouse music teachers Billy St John and Angela Wilde alongside other instructors and performers in attendance. These included successful young Zimbabwean artists, Theresa Muteta and Vee Mukarati.
Musicamp always invites international musicians to conduct its various groups, including a string ensemble, wind band, jazz band, choir, and full symphony orchestra. The success of Musicamp is largely due to the high calibre of international musicians and conductors who travel to Zimbabwe to teach and inspire our mostly young but also older musicians.
This year, the Musicamp choir was taught and conducted by Germaine Gamiet, and the wind band by Wesley Wong, both highly acclaimed and sought-after conductors from South Africa.
Harare-based composer and saxophonist Vee Mukarati ably led the jazz band in some of his original compositions. American violinist and conductor, William Harvey, conducted the symphony orchestra and string ensemble. He is the founder of Cultures in Harmony, a decades-old organisation that promotes classical music through youth projects around the world. Harvey also composed and re-arranged three of Oliver Mtukudzi’s most beloved songs: Neria, Todii, and Wenge Mambo.
Musicamp was also fortunate to have musicians Ryan Murphy and Kayleigh Miller taking part to assist with the cello and viola sections of the orchestra. Both musicians are graduates of Julliard, the prestigious school for exceptionally gifted performers in New York City.
After a gruelling week of rehearsals and some smaller performances, the final show came together and was a brilliant success.
Speaking after the closing show, Musicamp Chairman Billy St John said, “The highlight for me was Neria. It was the first song we rehearsed when Tuku came to Peterhouse. It really moved me. Not just because the piece was so beautiful, but the realisation that we had achieved something very special and historical. Tuku brought in a whole new dimension and audience to our camp. It was a true sign of unity between western and African music.”
Tuku also told reporters how impressed he was by the young musicians. “Their dedication and passion for music is amazing. I am so thrilled to be part of this collaboration with a diverse group of young Zimbabweans, and I am really impressed by how this turned out.”
Image: Young and old music enthusiasts playing with music legend, Oliver Mtukudzi
Image Credit: Lucy Broderick