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.

Filtering by Category: Performances

Music For Liberia Charity Fundraiser Concert

Since 2008, Music for Liberia has raised money for education in Liberia through concerts and events featuring world renowned classical, African and jazz musicians. Through donations, the charity and its partners have been able to fund crucial work in Liberia, including building libraries, supporting rural schools and providing accommodation for Ebola orphans.

This year’s Music For Liberia Charity Fundraiser concert was held on November 10th at St Gabriel’s Church in Pimlico. Here are a few pictures from our performance.

Otto And The Mutapa Calling African Marimba Band - Music For Liberia Charity Concert - St Gabriels Church Pimlico London
Otto And The Mutapa Calling African Marimba Band - Music For Liberia Charity Concert - St Gabriels Church Pimlico London
Otto And The Mutapa Calling African Marimba Band - Music For Liberia Charity Concert - St Gabriels Church Pimlico London
Otto And The Mutapa Calling African Marimba Band - Music For Liberia Charity Concert - St Gabriels Church Pimlico London
Otto & The Mutapa Calling African Marimba Band At Music For Liberia in Pimlico London

South Africa Heritage Day Family Picnic

Otto & The Mutapa Calling had the pleasure of entertaining the crowds at the South Africa Heritage Day family picnic this past weekend in Wimbledon Park. It was lovely seeing the diverse community of cultures come together in their beautiful traditional outfits to celebrate their heritage! Here are a few pictures from the day.

Otto & The Mutapa Calling at South Africa Heritage Day Picnic in Wimbledon Park London
Otto & The Mutapa Calling at South Africa Heritage Day Picnic in Wimbledon Park London
Otto & The Mutapa Calling at South Africa Heritage Day Picnic in Wimbledon Park London
Otto & The Mutapa Calling at South Africa Heritage Day Picnic in Wimbledon Park London
Otto & The Mutapa Calling at South Africa Heritage Day Picnic in Wimbledon Park London
Otto & The Mutapa Calling at South Africa Heritage Day Picnic in Wimbledon Park London

Leytonstone Street Festival

My band and I had a lovely time performing at Leytonestone Street Festival yesterday! There was a ton of great food, talented music bands and all round good vibes! It was a pleasure to be part of the action, and to perform at one of our favourite live music venues, Luna - The Home of Live Music. Here's a little clip of my song Dineo.

One Love Festival of Reggae & Ska

At the forefront of the UK Reggae and World music scene for over 11 years is One Love Festival of Reggae and Ska in the beautiful countryside of Somerset. Also known as the people’s festival of undividing peace and unconquering love, the festival creates a world where hope and love unites everyone into a combined and unbreakable positive force – where everyone is welcome and no-one’s judged – an atmosphere of acceptance where there are no borders - creating one people and one world.

This year, the festival introduced the Kaya World Music Stage – an outdoor stage introducing a line up of exciting music from around the world. My band, Otto & The Mutapa Calling, had the great honour of performing on the Kaya World Music Stage.

Here is a little clip of one of the songs we played.

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

Art Night London

Art Night is an annual free contemporary arts festival that puts art into extraordinary locations around London for one night a year.

The main festival is curated by the Hayward Gallery and Art Night Open features curated events from artists, curators and local institutions.

My band, Otto & The Mutapa Calling, had the pleasure of being part of this year's Art Night, which took place across several venues across south London this year. 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.

Otto & The Mutapa Calling performing at Art Night London 2018. Credits: Marinella Senatore, 'The London Procession' (2018). Curated by Hayward Gallery for Art Night 2018. Video by Joshua Simpson. Courtesy the artist and Art Night

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

Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival

I'm very excited to be two weeks away from the launch of Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival on October 21st. This two day festival is aimed at sharing the cultural arts of southern Africa with the UK during Black History Month.

It'll be a great opportunity to try out something new, make new friends, and share in the colourful culture of southern Africa.

We've got a great line up of dance and music workshops and a fantastic concert to round off the day.

Tickets are available from: www.tasteofsouthernafrica.com/tickets 

Taste of Southern Africa Cultural Arts Festival

South African Heritage Day Celebrations in Wimbledon Park

South African Diaspora UK hosted a lovely get together in Wimbledon Park this past weekend to mark South African Heritage Day, also known as Braai Day. I had the honour of taking part and got to give a small performance with my niece, after which I set up my marimbas on the side and let the kids have a go too.

Afrotake Media put the following short video together to cover some of the day's events:

Otto Gumaelius - SA Heritage Day
Otto Gumaelius - SA Heritage Day
Otto Gumaelius - SA Heritage Day

Gandanga: Folk Songs of Southern Africa

Gandanga is a tune that was sung by the guerrilla combatants during the independence struggle from the illegal, racist government of Ian Smith, in what was then called Rhodesia. Songs like these would have been sung during the night time when the combatants sought refuge in the various villages. Very tongue-in-cheek, the combatants sing that they cannot be fed okra, because otherwise they will become ill or go insane. They of course want to be fed meat! After all, they are out fighting for the freedom of their people!

Some commentators draw parallels to modern day politics, where far too often political leaders think they are justified in their demands for things like huge pay cheques because they claim to be serving the people. Perhaps this is why Chiwoniso Maraire sang in her beautiful song Rebel Woman, "there will be no compensation, it was of your free will, that you stood on the front line. Rebel woman, these are the rules of war. Remember that you fought for your people, and all the freedom's been hard won, it's been so hard won. But as you weep rebel woman, remember you were strong".

It's a reminder of the harsh reality that when you stand up and fight for what you believe in, your ultimate reward lies in what you achieve for your people, rather than what your people will give you in return.

The lyrics to Gandanga go:

Gandanga haridye derere (A rebel doesn't eat okra)
mukoma rinorwara (Brother, it would make them ill)
Gandanga haridye derere (A rebel doesn't eat okra)
mukoma rinopenga (Brother, it would make them crazy)

Here's a marimba version I performed with my band a few weeks ago at the annual Africa Utopia festival at the Southbank Centre in London.

Africa Utopia

The Southbank is home to one of the greatest African festivals London has to offer - Africa Utopia! It's always a marvelous weekend of all things Africa - from food to fashion!

This year I had the great honour of getting to share my music at Africa Utopia. We performed a 45 minute set of marimba songs on the Sounds Under the Bridge stage. I went along with two of my Wednesday evening students, Susannah and Graham, who played on tenor and baritone marimba respectively, and my niece Sophia on drumkit.

Otto Gumaelius & African Marimba Band At Africa Utopia

Our set was made up of Shona and Tswana folk songs, as well as some of my own songs, such as Kenekelekae (Where Was I), and the music went down a treat. Here's a short clip of our final song of our set, Taive Gumi ne Vaviri (We Were Twelve).

Fête de la Musique in Paris

The 21st of June is World Music Day - and it's a day that's spectacularly celebrated in Paris as musicians flood the streets to share their music with the city. In France, the day goes by the name Fête de la Musique, and this year it was an absolute pleasure to join forces with ex Zimba Marimba Band musician, Fredrik Andersson, who has set up a marimba business in Paris called Kudzana Marimba. Anna Wolanska and Sophie Nilsson, also former Zimba Marimba Band members, came over as well from Sweden, and together we refreshed and revitalised all the old songs we used to play.

On the Wednesday of Fête de la Musique we did a total of three performance-workshop slots; all in the bustling Parisian suburb of Clichy. Our first slot was at Place des Martyrs, where we got to share our music with many young children who were eager to try it out themselves.

 Marimba workshops with the young children of Clichy

Marimba workshops with the young children of Clichy

We then packed up and headed to Café KAMU, where we did an hour slot and a short workshop, which at one point had to be paused as we came under attack by an onslaught of water guns! The cool water being squirted into the air would have otherwise been a lovely carefree moment, had we not had wooden instruments in front of us which are sensitive to water! But after a few quick wipe downs we were back on track!

 Performing at Café KAMU

Performing at Café KAMU

After our brief stop over at Café KAMU, we packed up and headed to our final stop for the day where we played our final set outside Café du Parc. We managed to draw quite a large crowd and everyone seemed to enjoy our southern African music! 

 Final workshop for the day outside Café du Parc! 

Final workshop for the day outside Café du Parc! 

We played a total of 7 hours and were quite glad to get home after an otherwise very successful day! We took it easy over the next two days and did a bit of sightseeing and hanging out. On our last night together in Paris we did one more show, at Le Coq Noir, a lovely African restaurant in Clichy.   

 Delicious dinner at Le Coq Noir before our final performance

Delicious dinner at Le Coq Noir before our final performance

Below you can see a short video of our set up at Le Coq Noir. In the video, we're performing Gandanga, a song from Zimbabwe about the freedom fighters of the independence struggle. 

Our show at Le Coq Noir was the perfect end to a lovely week in Paris! Hopefully we'll be back next year to share more southern African marimba music!

For more information about marimba workshops in Paris, visit www.kudzanamarimba.com

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