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.

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

THANK YOU!

I am so, so grateful! Grateful to the universe for letting yesterday happen – in the perfect way it did. Grateful for the wonderful musicians - Nelson, Takudzwa, Tsungai and Yusuf - who I can so proudly call my friends, and who led wonderful workshops yesterday, sharing a taste of the cultural heritage that raised us and formed the adults we are today. I’m grateful for the support of family and friends, who came out yesterday to help. Sandile, for your fantastic catering; Jez, for your help in the kitchen; Cato, for dealing with all the payments. Thank you Nickson & Shaun for lending us and transporting your drums. Thank you Tsungi for your support throughout the day. Thank you to my marvelous musicians who put on a wonderful concert last night, and have made my heart glow through each and every rehearsal – Graham, Karabo, Sophia, Yusuf, Miles and Bea, you guys rock! Thank you to everyone who supported my first attempt at running a cultural arts festival – for buying tickets to the workshops, for having food and drinks, for attending our concert last night and for all your smiles, hugs, calls, texts and well-wishes. Thank you to my wonderful sound technician Francesco; thank you Tendai (Petite DJ) for rocking the theatre with your afro-house tunes; thank you Dennis and Katlego for helping with pictures and videos, and a BIG thank you to Jerry and the Brady Arts Centre for letting me host my event at your wonderful venue! My heart is as white as rice, as we say where I grew up. The next one will certainly be bigger and better. THANK YOU! <3

 Dance workshop with Nelson Neves

Dance workshop with Nelson Neves

 Marimba Workshop With Otto Gumaelius

Marimba Workshop With Otto Gumaelius

 Mbira Workshop with Taku Mukiwa

Mbira Workshop with Taku Mukiwa

 Singing workshop with Tsungai Tsikirai

Singing workshop with Tsungai Tsikirai

 Drumming workshop with Joe Legwabe

Drumming workshop with Joe Legwabe

Africa On The Square

I had a lovely time with Flame Lily Arts today, taking part in the parade during this year's Africa On The Square celebrations! 

Africa on the Square is an annual celebration of African culture, organised by the Mayor of London for Black History Month. The event takes place on Trafalgar Square every year and continues to grow with over 25,000 attending last year. It's a celebration of African arts and culture with live music, dancing, a talent show, an African market, food stalls, fashion show and lots of fun stuff for kids.

This year I was part of the parade with Flame Lily Arts, a professional cultural performing arts company based in the United Kingdom. The group was formed in 2009 out of a shared passion for entertaining audiences around the world with the culture and traditions of southern Africa.

Africa On The Square.jpg

Here's a video compilation put together by my friend Ahuv with highlights from the day!

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

The Battersea Power Station Midnight Run

In August I had the honour of being a part of The Midnight Run - a walking, arts-filled, night-time cultural journey through a city. It gathers strangers and local artists/activists to explore, play and create whilst the city sleeps.

Here's a highlights video of the Battersea edition of the Midnight Run, which I took part in. My bit is near the end of the video.

Star & Obie's Wedding

Last night we had the honour of entertaining at Star & Obie's beautiful wedding in Kent. This was us warming up the wedding party with the sounds of the southern African marimba! We're playing a popular southern African gospel song called Avulekile Amasango.

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

August Bank Holiday Weekend

I didn't get to go to Nottinghill Carnival this year - but I had a great long weekend nonetheless performing in London and Cudham with my marimba band, and in Southampton at a wedding with the fantastic Zimbabwean dance company, Flame Lily Arts.

 Performing on Saturday morning at Limehouse Basin Social Market

Performing on Saturday morning at Limehouse Basin Social Market

 Saturday evening in Southampton performing at a wedding with Flame Lily Arts

Saturday evening in Southampton performing at a wedding with Flame Lily Arts

 We were the opening act at Cudham Show and Fete on bank holiday Monday

We were the opening act at Cudham Show and Fete on bank holiday Monday

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