Otto Gumaelius

Marimba Music From Southern Africa

Otto Gumaelius is a London based, Botswana raised, performing artist & teacher of southern African folk music on the marimba.

Southburgh Festival of World Music

I spent my Saturday afternoon teaching marimba workshops at Southburgh Festival of World Music, and what a great day it was! The festival was full of friendly smiles. It was a treat getting to see Chartwell Dutiro perform with his group Mystic Mbira. A big thanks to Anna Mudeka for having me. I hope to be back next year!

 Photo credit: Briannah Wilson

Photo credit: Briannah Wilson

ZimFest Paris

I've just come back from a lovely long weekend in Paris where I got the opportunity to teach and perform. The occasion was ZimFest - and the weekend was all about cultural music from Zimbabwe, even though I of course snuck in some material from Botswana :) On offer were mbira and marimba workshops, which included elements of singing and dancing. On the Saturday the teachers and other collaborators came together to give a concert, followed by a second smaller concert on Sunday afternoon where the students got to showcase what they learnt.

It was a lovely weekend at Théâtre de Verre with a beautiful mix of cultures and people from all walks of life coming together through music.

 Photo Credit: Fredrik Andersson

Photo Credit: Fredrik Andersson

African Heritage Residential Weekend

My teaching took me up to Kettering today, where I worked with teenagers of African heritage, most of whom were born here in the UK, or moved here when they were very young. I shared a few folk songs on the marimbas, and we got to sing and dance a bit as well. 

 Together with some of the organisers and mentors. From left to right, Rumbi Mukoyi, Saba Getty, Otto Gumaelius & Dumi Senda

Together with some of the organisers and mentors. From left to right, Rumbi Mukoyi, Saba Getty, Otto Gumaelius & Dumi Senda

 My lovely office for the day :)

My lovely office for the day :)

Art Night London

My band and I had the pleasure of being part of this year's Art Night, which took place across several venues across south London. We were part of two live performance processions, curated by Marinella Senatore. The first took place at Battersea Power Station, and the second was at New Union Square in Nine Elms.

Here are a few pictures from the lovely night shot by Robert Piwko.

Art Night London - Marinella Senatore
Art Night London - Marinella Senatore
Art Night London - Marinella Senatore

From The Forest Theatre & Arts Festival

From the Forest is London’s newest theatre and arts festival, which took place in Waltham Forest from 21st June to 1st July. Starting out as a four day festival in a single venue in the Winter of 2016, the festival expanded to over 60 shows this year, spread across multiple venues over two weeks. Championing the creation of new performances in great venues, the festival aims to provide an affordable platform for artists to showcase their material. Anyone and everyone is welcome to apply to be a part of the festival.

Here are a few pictures and videos from our show.

From The Forest Festival - Otto Gumaelius & The Taste of Southern Africa
From The Forest Festival - Otto Gumaelius & The Taste of Southern Africa
From The Forest Festival - Otto Gumaelius & The Taste of Southern Africa
From The Forest Festival - Otto Gumaelius & The Taste of Southern Africa

The song we're playing in the clip above is a Tswana folk song called Mangwane Mpulele. It's sung in Botswana, South Africa and Lesotho.

The words are:

Mangwane mpulele, ke nelwa ke pula
Le ga dile pedi, le ga dile tharo, nka nyala mosadi

Heritage Zimbabwe Culture Day

My band and I spent the day in Coventry at a Zimbabwean culture day event. I shared some marimba songs with the young children and had a general jam towards the end of the afternoon with some of the attendees who grew up playing marimba in Zimbabwe. I find that's always the best part of these days out - meeting people who haven't played or seen a marimba in many years, and being able to give them the opportunity to reunite with the instruments and the songs. 

In the evening we got the pleasure of performing an hour long set for the attendees at the culture day event, before joining Stella Chiweshe on the stage. We performed two of her songs with her - Cha Chimurenga and Huya Uzoona. 

Here are a few pictures and videos from the day!

 Marimba workshop at Heritage Zimbabwe Culture Day

Marimba workshop at Heritage Zimbabwe Culture Day

 Combined marimba & dance workshop

Combined marimba & dance workshop

Wandsworth Arts Fringe

Here's a little taster from our show at Wandsworth Arts Fringe! It's a cover of a beautiful lullaby written by the late Chiwoniso Maraire for her children. The song is called Usacheme (Don't Cry).

Summer Gigs Alert!

Summer Gigs Alert!

Here are some of the places to you can catch my lovely band and I this summer! (Updated 24/05/18)

May 19th - Wandsworth Fringe Festival at St Mary's Church in Putney. Click here for tickets.

May 27 - Summer Gala at Goals Eltham. Click here for tickets.

May 30 - All Points East Festival, Bandstand, Victoria Park. Free entry.

June 2nd - #Heritage Zimbabwe Culture Show at Dunchurch Sportsfield and Village Hall in Rugby. Click here for more information.

June 17th - Victoria Park for Victoria Park Bandstand Season. 

June 23rd - Luna - Home of Live Music in Leytonstone.

June 30th - From The Forest Festival at Mirth, Marvel & Maud. Click here for tickets.

August 31st - One Love Festival at Gilcombe Farm in Somerset. Click here for tickets.

Otto Gumaelius & Taste of Southern Africa Marimba Band - Upcoming Shows

PanAfrik 2018 at Cadogan Hall

Friday night saw the marimba band and I performing our southern African music at the wonderful Cadogan Hall in Chelsea. I was last there a few years ago watching Sibongile Khumalo performing alongside Thandiswa Mazwai and Glora Bosman. What an honour it was to play on that same stage!

Here are a few pictures from the night:

Cadogan Hall London - Panafrik - Otto Gumaelius & Taste of Southern Africa Marimba Band 1.JPG
Cadogan Hall London - Panafrik - Otto Gumaelius & Taste of Southern Africa Marimba Band 2.JPG
Cadogan Hall London - Panafrik - Otto Gumaelius & Taste of Southern Africa Marimba Band 3.JPG
Cadogan Hall London - Panafrik - Otto Gumaelius & Taste of Southern Africa Marimba Band 4.JPG
Cadogan Hall London - Panafrik - Otto Gumaelius & Taste of Southern Africa Marimba Band 5.JPG
Cadogan Hall London - Panafrik - Otto Gumaelius & Taste of Southern Africa Marimba Band 6.JPG

On-And-Off

Here's a little glimpse into our blisteringly cold - but wonderfully artistic - Saturday afternoon at Nine Elms! We were one of five acts invited by _inventory London to take part in On-And-Off (Winter Trail, Remapping Nine Elms). Photo credit: Giulia Brescianini.

'On-and-Off' and 'Meet Me by the Balloons' were commissioned by Nine Elms as part of Winter Trails: Remapping Nine Elms, an arts festival that took place in December 2017. Artists: Rhine Bernardino, Jay Jay Revlon, Otto Gumaelius Band, Selina Bonelli, Eunjung Kim feat. Hollie Miller, and House of Absolute. www.inventoryplatform.com

 My marimba band © Giulia Brescianini

My marimba band © Giulia Brescianini

 Jay Jay Revlon teaching a Vogueing workshop © Giulia Brescianini

Jay Jay Revlon teaching a Vogueing workshop © Giulia Brescianini

 Selina Bonelli © Giulia Brescianini

Selina Bonelli © Giulia Brescianini

 Eunjung Kim © Giulia Brescianini

Eunjung Kim © Giulia Brescianini

 House Of Absolute © Giulia Brescianini

House Of Absolute © Giulia Brescianini

Marimba Band Wedding Entertainment: Steph & Ben

Playing marimba music amongst the tropical plants of the Barbican Centre's conservatory felt very right! Although not much of the conservatory is visible in the picture, this was definitely one of the coolest weddings my events band, Duduetsa African Marimba Band, has had the privilege of playing at this year! Warmest congratulations to Ben & Steph!

Barbican Conservatory - Duduetsa African Marimba Band.JPG

Grassroot Soccer World AIDS Day Charity Gala

Every year in December, more than 300 stars, footballers, philanthropists, and leaders in business and media come together at the Grassroot Soccer World AIDS Day Gala in London to support the Grassroot Soccer charity's work to educate, inspire, and mobilize young people in challenging circumstances to live healthier lives.

My events band, Duduetsa African Marimba Band, had the honour of providing southern African entertainment during the first part of the evening.  

Grassroot Soccer World AIDS Day Gala - Duduetsa African Marimba Band.JPG

Liminal Boundaries

I'm very excited to be a part of this year's ThisIsNotArt Festival, which is running under the theme of Liminal Boundaries. I'm billed to perform with my band at The Brookmill in Deptford at 8:30. And it's free entry - so come dance with us!

ThisIsNotArt - Luminal Boundaries - Otto Gumaelius.jpg

Marimba percussionist Otto Gumaelius launches Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival in UK

PRESS RELEASE

 © Dennis Teoh / Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival

© Dennis Teoh / Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival

On October 21st in London, marimba percussionist Otto Gumaelius launched the Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival, a weekend of activities celebrating the cultural arts of southern Africa.

The festival was founded with the desire to share and promote the cultural arts of southern Africa with the UK during Black History Month. The driving vision behind the festival was to create a platform to appreciate southern African culture in the UK, and to reinforce a positive image of the African continent.  

Born to a Motswana mother and a Swedish father, Otto started playing folk music on the marimba in primary school in Botswana. He moved to Sweden in 2003 to pursue his International Baccalaureate diploma, and was able to continue playing the marimba through Zimba Marimba Band, a Swedish marimba band playing traditional Shona music from Zimbabwe. The band undertook several study tours to southern Africa and performed at HIFA (Harare International Festival of the Arts) in 2007. After completing his studies, Otto moved first to Edinburgh for university, and then to London for work.

In 2016, he decided to dedicate himself full time to the marimba and the cultural arts of southern Africa, and founded African Marimba Music Ltd, a business delivering cultural marimba workshops and performances, with music from Botswana, Zimbabwe and South Africa. With the business established, Otto felt the time was right to establish a cultural arts festival.

Otto explained, “For many years now, I have wanted to put on a cultural arts festival to celebrate my cultural heritage and to generate a positive spotlight on southern Africa. It was important for me to create a space where people from all walks of life could come together and engage with the cultural arts of southern Africa. My intention was to do this by giving people a chance to try it out themselves through workshops, and then get the opportunity to see the cultural arts in action through live performance”.

In this first iteration of the festival, five workshops ran throughout the day – dance from Mozambique led by Nelson Neves; marimba from Botswana led by Otto Gumaelius himself; mbira from Zimbabwe led by Takudzwa Mukiwa; singing from Zimbabwe and South Africa led by Tsungai Tsikirai; and drumming from South Africa led by Yusuf Legwabe.

   
  
    © Otto Gumaelius / Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival

© Otto Gumaelius / Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival

After the workshops, participants had the chance to taste some southern African cuisine, before watching the headline marimba concert, which Otto put together with his London-based musician colleagues. The concert included marimba and mbira, with both traditional and contemporary songs and dances. The repertoire was predominantly from Botswana, South Africa and Zimbabwe – and included folk songs, liberation struggle songs, a gospel cover and some of Otto’s own original music.

 

   
  
    © Dennis Teoh / Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival

© Dennis Teoh / Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival

Otto revealed, “I have been passionate about the cultural arts of southern Africa for as long as I can remember, from the days when my cousins and I would watch cassette recordings of my late maternal grandmother’s traditional dance troupe, Ditshepe. I feel proud to have been able to put on a festival like this – and for it to have been received so warmly by everyone who came to watch, participate and support. I look forward to growing the festival further next year, and to eventually bring local acts from the various southern African countries to perform live here”.

For enquiries about the festival or marimba music and lessons in the UK, contact Otto through his website www.ottogumaelius.com

ENDS

Marimba Night At KataKata

I'm performing at KataKata in Brixton this Saturday together with Graham Knight. Come down for a lovely night of acoustic southern African marimba music! Music starts at 8pm, and it's £5 entry. See you on Saturday!

Marimba-Night-With-Otto-Gumaelius-at-KataKata.jpg

©2018, Otto Gumaelius - Marimba Music From Southern Africa. All Rights Reserved.