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Cosmas Magaya: Curriculum Vitae

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Cosmas Magaya

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Contact Info

Cosmas Magaya
magaya@mweb.co.zw
3046 Gwai Crescent
Glen Nora A
Harare, Zimbabwe
011-263-4-612652 (calling from U.S.)
263-04-612652 (calling within Zimbabwe)
cell: 011-263-11-743259 (calling from U.S.)
cell: 263-011-743259 (calling within Zimbabwe)

c/o Marilyn Kolodziejczyk
(541) 484-5034
mkolo@q.com

Professional Goals

To preserve the traditional mbira music of Zimbabwe for future generations by supporting and inspiring students to study and perform the music as well as to appreciate the cultural and spiritual context in which the music is performed in Zimbabwe; to introduce mbira music to Western culture through lecture and performance in North American communities and college campuses; to contribute to a definitive scholarly analysis of Shona mbira music and surrounding culture with ethnomusicologist Dr. Paul Berliner; to continue as an advisor and consultant for Zimbabwean mbira players who perform and teach in North America; to provide strong leadership as the Village Head of Magaya village in Zimbabwe; to serve as Zimbabwean Program Director for Nhimbe for Progress, a non-profit organization serving impoverished villagers in the Mhondoro region of Zimbabwe; to serve on the Board of Directors of Tariro, a grassroots non-profit organization working in Zimbabwe to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by educating young women and girls.

Professional Experience

Lectures/Teaching, Community Artist in Residence

My paid professional experience began at age 9 when, after teaching myself to play the mbira and then studying with my cousin, I started playing at biras, religious ceremonies where the mbira player calls the ancestral spirits. I quickly became known as a strong player who could call the spirits and have been working in this setting and others, described below, ever since.

In 1998 I began touring extensively, performing and lecturing at universities and music festivals. Interest in the cultural and religious aspects of Shona mbira music as well as the popularity of the music itself has grown in the West and, as a result, I have lectured extensively in these areas as well as performed the traditional music throughout the U.S. and Europe.

2013

  • Artist-in-Residence at Missouri Southern State University, Joplin, MO (Dr. Joy Dworkin)
  • Zimbabwean Music Festival 2013, Tacoma, WA
  • Artist-in-Residence at Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR (Marilyn Kolodziejczyk)
  • Perform and teach at MbiraNYC, New York, NY (Jim Pugliese)
  • Artist-in-Residence, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY (Dr. Glenn West, Dr. Jennifer Kyker Bangoura)
  • Perform and teach at Singing Wood Marimba Centre, Santa Cruz, CA (Betty Weiss)
  • Artist-in-Residence at Zimbira, Boulder CO (Catherine Hunziker)
  • Research Collaboration with Dr. Paul Berliner in Wellfleet, MA

2012

  • Mbira Music Lecture-Performance (with Dr. Paul Berliner) for the Duke University Alumnae Africa’s Wildlife Tour, Stanley and Livingstone Hotel, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
  • Lecture (with Dr. Paul Berliner): Cross-Cultural Collaborative Approaches to Mbira Music Research, Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, 15th International Conference, University of Goettingen, Goettingen, Germany

2011

  • Artist-in-Residence at Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence at Zimbira, Boulder CO (Catherine Hunziker)
  • Artist-in-Residence at Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO (Dr. Victoria Levine)
  • Visiting Artist/Lecturer at University of Vermont, Burlington VT (Dr. Isabella Jeso)
  • House concert in Hartford, CT (Brendan Taffe)
  • Perform and teach in New York City (Jim Pugliese)
  • Artist-in-Residence, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY (Dr. Glenn West, Dr. Jennifer Kyker Bangoura)
  • Perform & teach in Santa Cruz, CA (Betty Weiss, Angela Marie)
  • Visiting Artist/Lecturer, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR (Dr. Janis Weeks, Dr. Mark Levy).

2010

  • Artist-in-Residence at Duke University, Raleigh-Durham NC (Dr. Paul Berliner)
  • Artist-in-Residence at Indiana University, Bloomington IN (Angela Scharfenburger)
  • Artist-in-Residence at University of California Los Angeles (Nolan Warden) and California State University Northridge Los Angeles, CA (Dr. Ric Alviso)
  • Artist-in-Residence with Savara Jena Mbira and Guitar Band, Santa Cruz CA (Betty Weiss)
  • Lecturer at University of Oregon African Studies Program, Eugene, OR (Dr. Janis Weeks
  • Artist-in-Residence Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR (Lynne Swift)
  • Artist-in-Residence at Zimbira, Boulder CO (Catherine Hunziker)
  • Artist-in-Residence Camp Synergia, Santa Fe, NM (Rujeko Dumbutshena)
  • Artist-in-Residence at Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR (Lynne Swift)
  • Zimbabwean Music Festival, Corvallis, OR (Alex Weeks)
  • Teaching/Performing Residency at Kutsinhira-sponsored Camp Pagungwa, Florence, OR (Dr. Janis Weeks)
  • Artist-in-Residence at Williams College, Williamstown, MA (Ernest Brown)

2009

  • Seminar and Concert in collaboration with Dr. Paul Berliner at School of Oriental and African Studies Annual Lecture, London, England

2008

  • Artist-in-Residence, Duke University, Durham, N.C. (1/08-5/08)
  • Artist-in-Residence, Camp Tumbuka, Zimbabwean music camp, Santa Fe, NM
  • Forum and performance, Eastman School of Music, U. of Rochester, Rochester, NY
  • Teaching residency, Williams College, Williamstown, MA
  • Artist-in-Residence, Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence, Camp Pagungwa Mbira Intensive, Florence, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence, Camp PaChitsuwa Mbira Intensive Whidbey Island, WA
  • Artist-in-Residence Boulder Mbira Intensive, Boulder, CO

2007

  • Zimbabwean Music Festival 2007, Olympia, WA
  • Teaching residency, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO
  • Teaching residency, University of Trondheim, Norway
  • Teaching residency, Williams College, Williamstown, MA
  • Artist-in-Residence, Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence, Camp Pagungwa Mbira Intensive, Florence, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence Boulder Mbira Intensive, Boulder, CO
  • Artist-in-Residence, Camp PaChitsuwa Mbira Intensive Whidbey Island, WA

2006

  • Teaching residency, Williams College, Williamstown, MA
  • Teaching Residency, Denison University, Granville, OH
  • Artist-in-Residence, Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence, Camp Pagungwa Mbira Intensive, Florence, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence, Camp PaChitsuwa Mbira Intensive Whidbey Island, WA
  • Artist-in-Residence Paonia Mbira Intensive, Paonia, CO
  • Artist-in-Residence, Boulder Mbira Intensive, Boulder, CO

2005

  • Zimbabwean Music Festival 2005, Bellingham, WA
  • Artist-in-Residence, Whidbey Island Mbira Intensive, WA
  • Artist-in-Residence, Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence, Camp Pagungwa Mbira Intensive, Florence, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence Boulder Mbira Intensive, Boulder, CO
  • Artist-in-Residence New York/New Jersey Mbira Intensive, New York City, NY
  • Teaching Residency, Tufts University (Medford campus), Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New England Conservatory, Cambridge/Boston, MA
  • Teaching Residency, Williams College, Williamstown, MA

2004

  • Artist-in-Residence Camp Pagungwa Mbira Intensive, Florence OR
  • Artist-in-Residence, Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence, Camp Tumbuka, Santa Fe, NM
  • Headline Performer, Salem World Beat Festival, Salem, OR
  • Lecture, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
  • Chicago World Music Festival, Chicago, IL
  • Artist-in-Residence, Mbira of the Ancestors Retreat, Boulder, CO
  • Lecture-Demonstration for underprivileged children, San Francisco Community Music Center
  • Teaching Residency, College of DuPage, DeKalb, IL
  • Teaching/Performing visit, Ball State University, Muncie, IN
  • Three-day residency as headline performer at Indianapolis International Festival, Indianapolis, IN
  • Artist-in-Residence, Northwestern University, Herskovitz Africana Library Jubilee Celebration: Fifty Years of African Studies at Northwestern University, Evanston IL
  • Lecture-demonstration with Paul Berliner, (National) African Studies Association Annual Meeting, New Orleans, LA
  • Concert, Columbia University, World Music Institute, New York, NY

2003

  • Artist-in-Residence, Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • Teaching Residency, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
  • Zimbabwean Music Festival 2003, Seattle, WA
  • Artist-in-Residence Island, British Columbia
  • Teaching Residency, Duke University, Raleigh-Durham, NC
  • Mbira Intensive, NY, NJ
  • Teaching Residency, Middlebury College, Middlebury VT
  • Teaching Residency, Bowdoin College, Brunswick Maine and University of Southern Maine, Portland, MA
  • Artist-in-Residence, Mbira of the Ancestors Retreat, Boulder, CO
  • Teaching Residency, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN
  • Teaching Residency, Earlham College, Richmond, IN
  • Teaching Residency, Brown University, Providence, RI

2002

  • Teaching Residency/Concert at Stanford University (with Mbira Leaders Group Ensemble), Stanford, CA
  • Artist-in-Residence, Camp Tumbuka, Santa Fe, NM
  • Artist-in-Residence, Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • Zimbabwean Music Festival, 2002, Seattle Center, Seattle, WA
  • Artist-in-Residence, Mbira of the Ancestors Retreat, Boulder, CO
  • Teaching Residency, Duke University, Raleigh-Durham, NC
  • Teaching Residency/Concert, Michigan State University, MI
  • Teaching Residency/Concert, Carleton College, Northfield, MN
  • Teaching Residency, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH
  • Zimbabwean Music Festival 2002, Seattle, WA

2001

  • Artist-in-Residence Zimbabwean Music Performance Series/, Northwestern University, Evanston IL
  • Voices of the New Black Millennium Series, Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago, IL
  • Artist-in-Residence, Pender Island and Salt Spring Island, B.C., Canada
  • Artist in Residence, Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • Artist-in-Residence and Honored Elder, Pasichigare Gathering, Prineville, OR
  • Performances: Sam Bond's, Tsunami Bookstore, Café Paradiso, Saturday Market, Eugene, OR
  • Lecture-Demonstration, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
  • Zimbabwean Music Festival 2001, Seaside, CA
  • Artist-in-Residence, Mbira of the Ancestors Retreat, Boulder CO
  • Popular & Traditional Music Conference, Wesleyan University, Middletown CT
  • Teaching Residency & Performance, Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY
  • Teaching Residency & Performance, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT
  • Performance and Lecture Demonstration, Smith College, Northampton, MA
  • Concert Performance arranged by World Music Institute, New York City, NY
  • Visiting Scholar, Center for the Humanities, Stanford University, Palo Alto, CA.

2000

  • Zimbabwean Music Festival 2000, Residency, Eugene, OR
  • Teaching and Research Residency with Paul Berliner, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
  • U of Oregon lecture-demonstration
  • Artist-in-Residence, Victoria, Pender Island, Salt Spring Island, B.C., Canada
  • Artist-in-Residence, Mbira of the Ancestors Retreat, Boulder, CO
  • Colorado State U., Fort Collins, CO

1999

  • Visiting Scholar, Institute for Advanced Study and Research in the African Humanities, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
  • Zimbabwe Group Leaders Mbira Ensemble—Soul of Mbira, U.S. Tour:
    • Chicago Field Museum of Natural History, IL
    • Chicago Cultural Center, IL
    • World Music Festival, Chicago, IL
    • Hot House Nightclub, Chicago, IL
    • Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
    • Lotus Festival, Bloomington, IN
    • Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
    • Duke University, Durham, NC
    • Princeton University, Princeton, NJ
    • University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
    • The Kennedy Center, Washington, DC
    • Peabody Conservatory, Baltimore, MD
    • Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
    • Smith College, North Hampton, MA
    • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Boston, MA
    • Tufts University, Medford, MA
    • Harvard University, Cambridge, MA
    • The Somerville Theatre, Somerville, MA
    • Bates College, Philadelphia, PA
    • The Painted Bride Cultural Center, Philadelphia, PA
    • Emory University, Atlanta, GA
    • Makor Cultural Center, New York City, NY
    • African Museum, New York City, NY
    • Washington Square Church, New York City, NY
    • The Fowler Museum, Los Angeles, CA
    • University of California at Los Angeles, CA
    • University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
  • Zimbabwean Music Festival, Victoria, B.C., Canada

1998

  • Artist-in-residence, Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • Zimbabwean Music Festival 1998, Victoria, B.C, Canada

1985

  • European Tour: "Mhuri yekwaRwizi"; Musical Director, Performer; Three-week tour of Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany and Portugal

1983

  • European Tour: "Mhuri yekwaRwizi"; Musical Director, Performer; Performed throughout the British Isles, Holland and Italy

Lectures and Cultural Presentations

2010

Duke University, Department of Music, Durham, NC. Spring semester 2010. Studies in Ethnomusicology. With Dr. Paul Berliner
  • “History and repertoire of the 22-key mbira dzavadzimu"
  • “The significance of the mbira in spiritual ceremonies in Shona society”
  • “Ethnomusicology research methods"
  • “Interdisciplinary approaches to musical understanding and collaborative research"

2008

Duke University, Department of Music, Durham, NC.
  • “Music, religion and politics”
  • “Introduction to the mbira”
  • “Traditional Shona religion belief and types of spirits”
  • “Mbira music during the Chimurenga period”
  • “The role of the mbira in religious contexts"

2005

Zimfest, University of Bellingham, WA.
  • “Mbira's continued evolution and the impact of cultural conservatism: changes in the social and historical context, adoption of varying styles on the mbira, the social approach to learning and integration, Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle and the impact on the music, new mbira tunings and types and evolving playing and singing styles.”

Other Related Work Experience

2009-present

  • Board member, Tariro, Zimbabwe. Serve on the board of directors for Tariro, a grassroots non-profit organization working in Zimbabwe to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS by educating young women and girls. Advise the board regarding financial matters and project decisions, facilitate the resolution of issues within the program and carry out the mission of the program wherever needed. Founded in 2003, Tariro is registered as a 501(c)(3) organization in the United States, and in Zimbabwe as a trust.

2004-present

  • Village Head (Sabhuku), Magaya Village, Mhondoro, Zimbabwe. Individuals in the position of sabhuku are recognized as political representatives of the land by the Zimbabwean government. In this capacity I act as Village Head for the village, mediating conflicts among villagers, making agricultural and land use decisions and resolving disputes.

2000-present

  • Project Director, Nhimbe for Progress, Zimbabwe. Project Director of Nhimbe for Progress, a nonprofit organization that works in impoverished Zimbabwean villages in the Mhondoro area of Zimbabwe. Nhimbe assists villagers by providing educational support for school-age children, health services, and resources to build huts, toilets, wells, and fuel efficient stoves. Responsibilities include monitoring project expenses, assisting with prioritization of projects, selection and oversight of Zimbabwean field staff, and providing access to resources needed for building, toilet and well construction.

1973-1997

  • Depot Manager, Dairy Marketing Board, Zimbabwe. My responsibilities included sales, distribution and marketing of milk and other dairy products in the Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Hwange, Masvingo and Mutare regions.

Ethnomusicology Research/Collaborations

1971-current

  • Research assistant for ethnomusicologist Dr. Paul Berliner. Assisted Dr. Berliner with the field research for a scholarly book on the traditional mbira music of Zimbabwe, The Soul of Mbira: Music and Traditions of the Shona People of Zimbabwe. Assisted with field research and interviews, translated and transcribed song texts. Published in 1978 (initially by University of California Press, later by University of Chicago Press), The Soul of Mbira was awarded the American Society of Composers and Publishers Deems Taylor Award for Outstanding Books About Music and became a seminal work in the field of ethnomusicology. It continues to serve as a standard reference in college courses dealing with African music and ethnomusicological research, and, in particular, with mbira music. Collaboration continues with Dr. Berliner for the 2nd edition of The Soul of Mbira, in addition to a major project to develop approaches to teaching and preserving the mbira musical tradition.

Discography

  • 2003 CD set accompanying World of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World’s Peoples. Thomson/Schirmer, publisher. Jeff Todd Titon, editor. 4th edition. ISBN0-534-58547-7
  • 2002 Africa: Music from the Nonesuch Explorer Series
  • 2002 Anoyimba, CD, Little Elf's Workshop, Eugene, OR.
  • 2002 Musimboti CD (with Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center ensembles), Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center
  • 2000 Mhuri yekwaMagaya, Tape #113 MBIRA Recording Library
  • 2000 Afamba Apota, CD, Little Elf's Workshop, Eugene, OR
  • 1998 Mbira, Tape, Kutsinhira Cultural Arts Center, Eugene, OR
  • 1994 Cosmas Magaya Solo, Tape #305 MBIRA Recording Library
  • 1973 Zimbabwe:The Soul of Mbira, Nonesuch Records World Explorer Series H-72054. This album was nominated for a NARAS Grammy Award: 1994 reissued by Nonesuch Records as a CD: 9 72054-2.
  • 1977 Zimbabwe: Shona Mbira Music; Nonesuch Records World Explorer Series H-72077; reissued by Nonesuch Records as a CD, September, 2002

Media

“The Explorer Series Returns,” SongLines, November/December 2002; article reviewing Nonesuch Records re-release of the “Explorer Series” music collection. "Mbira virtuoso Cosmas Magaya,[is] heard on The Soul of Mbira: Traditions of the Shona People and Shona Mbira Music,… Magaya explains, the mbira recordings became a marker of national pride: ‘These recordings are now played at the opening of Parliament, and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) uses them as theme music.’”

“Calling Up the Coolest Music People,” City Pulse, September 25, 2002; article reviewing the Mbira Masters’ performance at Michigan State University. “As for the Mbira Masters themselves... it’s safe to predict that they will surpass your most exalted musical dreams. The mbira is an angelic percussion instrument made of ringing metal tabs, plucked by the thumbs, positioned above a resonant, hollow gourd. It produces heart-breakingly sweet tones and uncannily deep buzzes that envelop body and soul (to borrow a phrase) in whatever magical world the player wants to conjure up, from earthly dance grooves to ethereal melodies to jazzy syncopation. The Master Musicians include Beauler Dyoko (the first professional woman mbira player in Zimbabwe), the incomparable Cosmas Magaya, and musician/ethnomusicologist Paul Berliner.”

“Around The World In 92 Discs,” The New York Times, September 15, 2002; article reviewing Nonesuch Records’ re-release of the “Explorer Series” music collection. “Between now and February 2005, Nonesuch plans to reissue the entire series– 92 albums – on CD’s, beginning with its 13 African discs (which include ‘Animals of Africa: Sounds of the Jungle, Plain and Bush’). The best of the batch are the meditative Nubian solo songs from Hamza El Din, the hypnotic Shona mbira (thumb-piano) music from Zimbabwe and the rip-roaring public celebrations from Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania that are modestly titled ‘East Africa: Ceremonial and Folk Music.’”

“World Records: Landmark CD series showcases international music’s lasting influence,” San Francisco Chronicle, August 31, 2002; article reviewing Nonesuch Records re-release of the “Explorer Series” music collection and interview with Cosmas Magaya. “‘People in the West now understand Zimbabwean music much better,’ says Cosmas Magaya, an mbira player from Zimbabwe who performs on some of the Nonesuch recordings. ‘Thirty years ago, we had not been recorded, especially by someone like Paul [Berliner]. He was the first white man to record me and my group.’”

“World Music Makes a Dramatic Entrance,” Chicago Tribune, 2000; article reviewing the Mbira Leaders Ensemble’s opening performance at the World Music Festival in Chicago. “The Zimbabwe Leaders Mbira Ensemble opened the evening’s lineup at the Field Museum, and even this small contingent of mbira (or “thumb piano”) virtuosos projected sound more vividly than one might have thought possible. The art of listening to this music lies in decoding the interlocking motifs that each player produces, and the ensemble took pains to make every note ring forth. To hear players of this caliber, their melismatic vocals riding above the rich instrumental texture, was a privilege, particularly to Western ears.”

“A Zimbabwean Dream Deferred,” Rhythm, April 2000; article about the planning and final realization of the Soul of Mbira Tour. “When the Soul of Mbira tour rolled through the United States last fall, a dream nearly 30 years in the making was realized at last. In 1971, ethnomusicologist Paul Berliner – who would later author the classic world music book The Soul of Mbira – arrived in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to begin researching the music and lore of the Shona “thumb piano.” Within his first weeks in southern Africa, Berliner met the core members of the Soul of Mbira group – singer Hakurotwi Mude, mbira player Cosmas Magaya and Magaya’s percussionist brother Simon. ‘Cosmas and I had the idea that it would be a wonderful thing to create a cultural bridge, to have mbira music – so powerful in its own right in Zimbabwe – gain exposure in the United States,’ Berliner recalls.”

“Variety Spices Music Fest’s Debut,” Chicago Sun-Times, September 22, 1999; article reviewing the Zimbabwe Leaders’ performance at the World Music Festival in Chicago. “On the other end of the spectrum, the Zimbabwe Leaders/Mbira Ensemble, a cadre of Zimbabwean master musicians with shoulders hunched against the brisk lakefront temperatures, presented percussive, propulsive mbira selections. Repetitive, emotive vocals that explored the throat’s dynamic range melded with the group’s layered rhythms, played mostly on the 22-key mbira, plucked with the thumbs and forefingers.”

“Real Women Do Play Mbira,” Daily Hampshire Gazette, October 14, 1999; article reviewing Cosmas Magaya and Soul of Mbira Tour’s performances in Massachusetts. “[Cosmas] Magaya started playing when he was 8 years old. He asked a relative to teach him but the man initially demurred, saying that he didn’t want the inexperienced boy getting his instrument out of tune. Magaya was determined. He carefully watched as the older man played. Then, he said, ‘Each time he went to the fields I snuck in and pinched his mbira and practiced what I learned from afar.’”

“Mbira Masters: They’re All Thumbs and That’s Good,” The Boston Globe, October 19, 1999; article reviewing The Soul of Mbira Tour’s performance in Boston. “This is the first time that a Boston audience will get to see an mbira ensemble, featuring leaders from various groups, as opposed to a soloist. ‘When you hear the music in ensemble it’s so much more powerful,’ [Paul] Berliner says by phone from a North Carolina tour stop. ‘There are so many more layers of complexity that Western audiences find themselves touched by it, like they would be touched by any ensemble.’ Mbira player Cosmas Magaya, whom Berliner met 30 years ago in Zimbabwe adds: ‘The main reason for us coming together is to pool all the different talents together, so we can share with others. Our audience will learn a lot from different people.’”

“Beyond Rhythm,” The Press-Enterprise, November 5, 1999; article reviewing the Soul of Mbira: Masters of Zimbabwe Tour’s performance at UCLA in Los Angeles, California. “Among the Shona people of Zimbabwe, the mbira is the major instrument, used in every facet of life... ‘What we’ll be playing is spiritual and traditional,’ says 47-year-old Cosmas Magaya, a longtime friend of [Paul] Berliner and one of his mbira teachers. ‘It’s music we perform in ritual ceremonies. Let’s say, one person falls sick and the doctors can’t diagnose it. What we’ll do is consult our own healers and they will divine a ritual where mbira players are invited along with members of the village and the elders. Everyone takes part in the healing.’”

“Ancient Resonance in Twinkling Syncopations,” The New York Times, November 9, 1999; music review of The Soul of Mbira Tour’s concert in New York City “Cosmas Magaya spent a few moments dissecting one of the pieces performed by the Mbira Masters of Zimbabwe on Friday night at the Washington Square Church. It had four phrases, he explained, plinking simple pairs of notes on his mbira, the African thumb piano with a buzzing gourd resonator... Even in New York, it was transporting music. The mbiras sounded, to a Western ear, like a brawny music box, circling through motifs that could repeat forever. Ensembles included up to three mbira players: Mr. Magaya, Beauler Dyoko and Paul Berliner, an ethnomusicologist who studied mbira and recorded some of the musicians in the 1970s for The Soul of Mbira (Nonesuch).”

“Mbira Group Leaders,” Skyhost, November/December, 1999; music review of the “Mbira Group Leaders Ensemble.” “This September, American audiences will be able to hear the ‘Mbira Group Leaders Ensemble’ from Zimbabwe, an ensemble formed from the leaders of several of Zimbabwe’s best mbira groups. They will be touring America for 8 weeks, with an itinerary taking them to Chicago, New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Boston, Los Angeles, California & Philadelphia, returning to Zimbabwe at the end of November. The tour is a gathering of individuals featuring Mbira players Beulah Dyoko, Hakurotwi Mude, Chaka Chawasarira, Cosmas Magaya, Simon Magaya and Paul Berliner. Each performer represents a different area of deep traditional musical knowledge from Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans living in the USA are getting ready for a feast of their music and culture, as an ensemble of such a collection of talent would not be heard in any one single venue at home.”

“Mondo Midwest: World Music Festival Chicago ‘99,” Rhythm, January/February 2000; article reviewing Mbira Masters’ opening performance at the Chicago World Music Festival. “Kicking off the festival were the aptly named Mbira Masters – half a dozen of Zimbabwe’s top mbira (thumb piano) and percussion players – who dazzled the audience with traditional Shona songs.”

“Music From Zimbabwe,” New Musical Express, September 1983; article about the ensemble Mhuri yekwaRwizi’s first international tour to London. “A group of Shona musicians will make a 3-week tour of Britain, starting in London on September 25 at the Bloomsbury Theatre and going on to nine other cities. The band, Mhuri Yekwa Rwizi, is one of the best known in Zimbabwe today and has made many recordings and this will be the first time the musicians have played outside their own country...The tour forms the opening stage of a huge World Arts Season, the first of its kind to be held in Britain, which involves shows, workshops and demonstrations by musicians and dancers from many parts of the Third World, including West and Central Java, Iran, Peru and India as well as Zimbabwe.”

“Zimbabwe Musicians to Perform in London,” Zimbabwe Herald, September 20, 1983; article touting the ensemble Mhuri yekwaRwizi’s first international tour. “The Mhuri yekwaRwizi Mbira Ensemble is to make its international debut in London on Sunday. It will give a recital of Shona music to mark the start of a world arts season in Britain. Other groups are coming from Japan, Peru, India and Iran.”

“Mbira Sound Captures First London Audience,” The Herald, October 6, 1983; article describing Mr. Magaya’s first international tour with his mbira ensemble Mhuri yekwaRwizi. “The first group of Zimbabwean mbira players to perform in London, Mhuri yekwaRwizi, drew a capacity crowd at the Bloomsbury theatre last Sunday. And the audience, unfamiliar with the mbira, showed keen interest in its rhythmic, crisp and absorbing sound. The intricate, merging of three mbira instruments into a harmonious melody complemented by the high baritone voice of the vocalist simply cast a spell in the hall and soon half the audience was chanting in time with the beat.”

City Limits, September 6-13, 1983; article on folk music reviewing Mhuri yekwaRwizi’s first appearance in London. “Those of you who thought African music is all drum-based might have had your ideas shaken lately with the appearance of the odd kora player and the buzzing of xylophones in West London. Any remaining illusions will be shattered by Mhuri yekwaRwizi, the mbira (thumb piano) ensemble from Zimbabwe. Their music is melodic, rhythmic and infectiously joyful, built around the uniquely powerful singing of Hakurotwi Mude, fluid yodeling responses and the heavenly sound of massed mbiras projecting their sound from within dome gourd resonators.”

“Music From Zimbabwe,” Financial Times, September 9, 1983; article reviewing the first world tour of Mhuri yekwaRwizi. “Mhuri yekwaRwizi opened the World Arts Season at the Bloomsbury Theatre on Sunday evening, a series presented by Arts Worldwide... The music is essentially layered – one, two or more patterns repeated over a percussive pulse with a vocal line or lines added on top... The effect is exhilarating and generates considerable excitement to which dance a short sequence of staccato gestures that builds to a climax and subsides, adds a further layer.”

“Mbira Music Earns Londoners’ Applause,” The Herald, September 29, 1983; article reviewing Mhuri yekwaRwizi’s opening performance in London. “The opening concert in London by the Mhuri yekwaRwizi Ensemble was enthusiastically received and the group has now embarked upon an extensive provincial tour. As well as giving concerts in leading regional centres, the group is to stage workshops for adults and for schoolchildren during its first overseas tour.”

“Zestful Zimbabwe,” West Africa, October 10, 1983; article reviewing Mhuri yekwaRwizi’s first international tour. “The spirit of the Shona descended on Central London when the Mhuri yekwaRwizi ensemble from Zimbabwe began their Arts Worldwide tour of Britain at the Bloomsbury Theatre. The infectious music produced by this group proved to be a cultural bridge as songs in Shona, unintelligible to the majority of those present, moved by the power of their musical content to exuberant joyfulness... While the audience responded and merged with the group, dancing their cares away, Cosmas Magaya announced, ‘we are glad to see you are showing your appreciation’ for the British polite handclap would never have sufficed since we have all been transported a few thousand mile away.”

“Music From Zimbabwe,” Daily Telegraph, October 25, 1983; review of the Arts Worldwide Tour and Mhuri yekwaRwizi’s performance. “A fascinating occasion, particularly for the participants. My only regret was to have missed the group’s earlier visit to London, when workshop sessions offered fuller opportunities to study the essential structure and character of the music itself.”

“Gwenyambira U.S.A.,” Radio Post, Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation, 1974. “It comes as something of a surprise to walk into a studio and find a European sitting on the floor, legs stretched out in front of him, playing an mbira and singing lustily. But when he is doing that, Dr, Paul “Gwenyambira” Berliner is a happy man... The music he found in Rhodesia fascinated him and he decided to make a close study of it. He met musicians such as Cosmas Magaya and learnt not only to play an mbira but also how to sing in true, traditional style.”

from The Soul of Mbira, by Dr. Paul Berliner “The growth and development of performers’ styles became apparent to me when on my second trip to Zimbabwe I had the opportunity to play variations on mbira pieces that I had learned from tapes made during my first visit. Upon hearing my performance, one of my teachers, Cosmas Magaya, listened quizzically at first, as if the variations sounded faintly familiar to him. Suddenly he laughed with delight, remarking, ‘Ahhh, I remember those styles; that is the way I used to play two years ago!’”

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