Ethnomusicology Visiting Artists Paul Mataruse (marimba), performing with Northwest marimba band Ruzivo, and Claire Jones (mbira) performing with the Mahonyera Mbira Ensemble, are joined by students in this evening of music from Zimbabwe.
Kanhurikwa (That which balances): Paul Mataruse
Composed in the typical interlocking Shona style, this song is inspired by the famous balancing rock formations east of Harare, the capital city of Zimbabwe. It illustrates the delicate balance of nature and how we are called to be stewards of the earth.
Tondobayana (Trad. Arr. Dana Moffett)
A traditional mbira piece adapted for marimba by Dana Moffett.
Kurauone: Paul Mataruse
Featured on Ruzivo’s award-winning latest album, this is a song to Kurauone, a precocious child. “Be good, Kurauone, God sees everything you do.”
Vahera: Paul Mataruse
Vahera is a tribe of the Shona people of Zimbabwe, known for their strong-willed women who maintain order in the household. This is a dedication to the strong women of Ruzivo!
Revai: Paul Mataruse
Revai is the result of cross-pollinating Shona-style mbira rhythms with Kore Kore chord progressions from the Northern parts of Zimbabwe. The song is a result of playing classical mbira repertoire (Taireva) through various Northern Zimbabwe mbira tunings from the Kore Kore people.
Ndangariro: Paul Mataruse
This is a dedication to all the Zimbabweans who are now scattered all over the world, displaced by harsh economic and political conditions in their home country.
Tsamba Yerudo: Paul Mataruse
Tsamba Yerudo means Love Letter, and this song serves as Paul’s love letter to his native country of Zimbabwe. Despite the challenging circumstances, Zimbabwe remains among the most beautiful and most welcoming places on earth.
Paul Mataruse – marimba, mbira, vocals; Dana Moffett – marimba, vocals; Jocelyn Moon – marimba, mbira, vocals; Zach Moon – marimba, mbira, hosho, vocals; Rose Orskog – marimba, vocals, hosho; Hannah Weatherford – marimba, vocals, hosho; Lonnie Welsh – bass guitar
Zivanai Masango – lead guitar; Tendai Muparutsa – drums; Evelyn Mukwedeya – mbira, vocals
led by Visiting Artist Claire Jones
Mahonyera will perform pieces from the centuries-old traditional repertoire of the mbira dzavadzimu.
Mahonyera Mbira Ensemble
Mahonyera* performs traditional mbira music of the Shona people of Zimbabwe. Three to four mbira players perform complex interlocking patterns on the 22-24 key mbira dzavadzimu and are accompanied by hosho (gourd shakers) and vocals.
*Mahonyera, in the chiShona language, is a style of low-pitched syllabic singing. It also refers to “the sound of distant voices.”
Claire Jones, 2015 visiting mbira instructor for the University of Washington Ethnomusicology Division, began studying Zimbabwean music in 1976 with the late Dumisani Maraire; Dr. Maraire was the first Visiting Artist to teach Zimbabwean mbira and marimba at the UW (and North America). Claire became a member of the traditional mbira group Mhuri Yekwa Muchena while living in Zimbabwe in the late 1980s, and is the author of Making Music: Musical Instruments in Zimbabwe Past and Present (Baobab/Academic Books 1992). She completed her doctoral degree at UW in 2006 with a dissertation on the modern Zimbabwean marimba. Her Seattle-based group Mahonyera Mbira Ensemblehas been together since 1991.
Shona Mbira Music
The Shona people of Zimbabwe play several different types of lamellaphone instruments, known collectively as mbira. Students in the spring 2015 world music performance studies course have been learning the basic playing techniques and repertoireofthe mbira dzavadzimu (literally, “the mbira of the ancestral spirits”). This instrument, intimately tied to traditional Shona spiritual beliefs and cultural practices, is played in possession ceremonies in many areas of the country.
The mbira dzavadzimu consists of 22 to 28 metal keys fixed to a wooden soundboard, which is then wedged into a calabash gourd used as a resonator. Bottle caps, metal rattles or shells attached to the instrument and the resonator add rhythmic buzzing when the keys are struck. The interaction of two or more players, singers, hosho (gourd rattles), rhythmic hand clapping and the occasional drummer creates a densely interwoven musical fabric. The multi-layered melodies and complex rhythmic textures of the mbira have led to its adoption by contemporary musicians in Zimbabwe and worldwide.
The members of Mahonyera are:
Claire Jones, mbira and vocals
Kevin Ugarte, mbira and vocals
Sheree Seretse, mbira and vocals
Phillip Page, mbira and vocals
Sooja Kelsey, hosho and vocals
Founded by Paul Mataruse in 2004, Ruzivo started out as a seven-piece Zimbabwean marimba band based on Whidbey Island. Over the past ten years, Ruzivo has evolved into an AfroPop band featuring the marimba, mbira, guitar and drums. The band plays traditional and contemporary Zimbabwean music mixed with East, Central and Southern African rhythms that cross-pollinated Mataruse’s childhood musical experiences in Harare, Zimbabwe. What emerges is an infectious blend of Shona mbira music of Zimbabwe with a pan-African twist.
For this concert, we are honored to host renowned Zimbabwean musicians guitarist Zivanai Masango, percussionist Tendai Muparutsa, and mbira player Evelyn Mukwedeya. Zivanai Masango has a rich musical legacy as a music producer and multi-instrumentalist and has toured extensively with Thomas Mapfumo and Oliver Mtukudzi, two of Zimbabwe’s foremost contemporary musicians. Zivanai joins us from San Diego, where he and his wife Helen have established a Zimbabwean music school. Tendai Muparutsa comes from one of Zimbabwe’s leading musical families, with over five generations of musicians, recording engineers and music producers who have touched every facet of popular Zimbabwean music to date. He is currently based at Williams College, Mass., where is on faculty in the Music Department. Evelyn Mukwedeya is playing her first show with Ruzivo, having just moved to Seattle after marrying Paul Mataruse. She was a founding member of Toronto-based Nhapitapi, a six-piece fusion of mbira, guitar and drums.
Paul Mataruse, marimba
Paul Mataruse was born and grew up in Harare, Zimbabwe, where he played marimba with his twin brother Peter and their friends in the neighborhood. He has taught marimba since 1992 and is currently musical director for Ruzivo. Paul is currently doing several collaborations with Zimbabwean musicians in Harare, with the goal of publishing new examples of fusing Zimbabwean and North-American Zimbabwean-inspired music featuring marimba, mbira, guitars and Zimbabwean vocalists.
Claire Jones, mbira
Claire Jones has been involved with Zimbabwean music since 1976 when she first fell in love with the marimbas and started studying with the late Dumisani Maraire. She performed for several years with Dumi and the Maraire Marimba Ensemble both in the U.S. and in Zimbabwe, and was a founding member of the Seattle marimba groups Kutamba and Musango. While living in Zimbabwe from 1985 to 1990 she played mbira with Mhuri Yekwa Muchena and authored the book Making Music: Musical Instruments in Zimbabwe Past and Present. She is honored to count Mondreck Muchena and Zhanje Mujuru as her main mbira teachers; she has also learned from members of Mhuri Yekwa Muchena, Ephat Mujuru, Musekiwa Chingodza, Stella Chiweshe and Sydney Maratu. Claire completed her doctoral degree with a dissertation on the modern Zimbabwean marimba in 2006. She is currently teaching and playing mbira and marimba in Seattle while teaching online courses in ethnomusicology. Her group Mahonyera Mbira Ensemble has been together since 1991.