The 2016 NIAA Vocal and Instrumental Eisteddfod, generously sponsored by Mashonaland Holdings Limited and the British Council, was stressful but exciting! Stressful, because the first term was very short this year due to the early Easter dates – yet our small band of volunteers managed to offer the complete Eisteddfod “experience” in the limited time available – solos, duets, quartets, ensembles, choirs, bands and orchestras, the Marimba Challenge, the Vocal Challenge, multiple workshops and two concerts in the final weekend.
Exciting, because interest in NIAA and the Eisteddfod grew hugely, especially after a video of Watershed’s action packed performance at the Marimba Challenge on 4th March went viral – 4 million hits in 3 days, over 10 million views to date! Visit the NIAA Facebook page to see videos and photos of this and many of the other wonderful performances recorded at the 2016 Eisteddfod, which ran 23rd February to 20th March.
It attracted almost 2000 entries from 84 different schools and 44 private music studios and individuals, including some newcomers which was very pleasing. Entries were received for every section of the syllabus – 286 African instrumental candidates of which 87 were marimba ensembles; 804 Western Instrumental entries of which 49 were large ensembles, bands and orchestras; 717 vocal entries and 190 choirs.
Adjudication took place in Harare, Gweru and Bulawayo at venues kindly provided by Prince Edward School, Gateway High, Twin Rivers School, Harare International School, Midlands Christian College and the Bulawayo Academy of Music. Our team of adjudicators were well received by both the performers and audience as they expertly shared their knowledge and skills during adjudication sessions and at workshops. The South African contingent comprised musician, lecturer and author Boudina McConnachie (Rhodes University, Grahamstown), who was principal adjudicator; solo vocalist, teacher and conductor Sibusiso Mkhise (Grahamstown) and cellist, arranger and teacher Lara Block (Hopefield, Western Cape). The Zimbabwean adjudicators were musician, choir director and lecturer Tendekai Kuture (Africa University, Mutare); singer-songwriter Ryan Koriya (an Eisteddfod alumnus who is currently recording an album in Victoria Falls and a member of the rock band Mann Friday); pipe major and teacher Mike McMullen (Harare); jazz artist, song writer and teacher Prudence Katomeni Mbofana (Harare) and mbira player, lecturer and author Perminus Matiure (MSU, Gweru).
The Eisteddfod continues to thrive and provide a wonderful platform for so many musicians, young and old. We are very grateful to all who make an event like this possible – our sponsors, the schools, the adjudicators, the music teachers, the performers and the NIAA team of volunteers. The syllabus for next year’s edition has already been published and can be found on the NIAA website and Facebook. We look forward to seeing you all at the 2017 Eisteddfod next March.