2019, Sun, Mar 24

Mbira: A Diversity

with Stella Chiweshe, The Zonke Family, Stefan Franke

Stella Chiweshe | © Promo

Stella Chiweshe | © Promo

The musical language of the lamellophone is considered one of the most complex on the African continent. Its tines, usually made of metal, are mounted on a board or resonance box; sound is created by plucking them with the fingers. Local variants and playing styles are as diverse as their names: kalimba in Malawi, mbira in Zimbabwe... Stella Chiweshe, the “Queen of Mbira,” has made the instrument internationally known in popular music and was one of the first women to perform concerts with this instrument, which is traditionally reserved for men. The matepe variant from northern Zimbabwe can be played with up to four independent melody lines simultaneously. The Zonke Family, battling the imminent disappearance of the matepe culture, is among its few remaining master players. Stefan Franke is breaking new ground. His learning platform sympathetic-resonances.org makes mbira archives accessible and will one day also be able to connect generations of players locally and globally via a mobile app. The blind spots of Western-influenced listening experience are contrasted tonight by fascinating multi-perspective matepe and mbira music.